Boosting Social Infrastructure During COVID-19
May 15, 2020
At Rally Assets we use the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to frame our investment approach by grouping them into five investible themes, which are proving useful when thinking about how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s note explores our theme of ‘social infrastructure’ during COVID-19, which encompasses two SDGs:
- Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
- Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals
Social infrastructure is all about fundamental and overarching ‘backbone’ systems required for a free, just and transparent society that all can participate in. Think access to information, communication systems, financial services and safe products; think accountable and effective institutions.
While our social infrastructure theme is about universal elements, really its success can be measured by how well the most vulnerable are served by that infrastructure.
What does this theme mean in terms of COVID-19?
When thinking of social infrastructure during COVID-19, we’ve seen how the current infrastructure has failed many of the most vulnerable.
The pandemic has created an opportunity to remake our institutions and even capitalism so that as we emerge from this pandemic we are rebuilding and recreating with resiliency, sustainability and justice in mind. One of the best ways to seize the opportunity is to listen, share, collaborate and work in partnership with diverse groups. Systems change requires action from many different actors and partnerships enable shared value to be created
How impact investors can boost social infrastructure during COVID-19
Invest time and energy
Supporting social infrastructure during this pandemic and as the world rebuilds could mean partnering in new ways and with new groups to address the fissures that have been exposed. Often the unlikely, unusual coalitions are the most effective because diversity generates new perspectives, new ideas and new solutions that can have broad-based support.
Many organizations whose work ties into this social infrastructure theme could be helped by donations. For example:
- These three organizations work on justice and rights issues: Prisoner Emergency Support Fund helps prisoners, Peacebuilders Canada helps youth, especially those who are vulnerable and marginalized, and Raven helps Indigenous peoples
- A strong free press is key to a healthy democracy as it holds governments and corporations to account, shapes society and builds community. Discourse supports independent community news while Canadian Journalists for Free Expression works nationally and internationally
Invest in companies
Without making any specific company recommendations, we encourage you to consider investing in companies linked to the theme of social infrastructure. That could mean investing in companies that:
- Lower or remove barriers to enabling more people to have access to more services
- Create communications structures that are safe, reliable and accessible
- Increase public access to information and the reporting of a free and fair media
- Create opportunities for marginalized populations through their programs and hiring practices
- Fairly employ or support essential workers
Despite and perhaps because of the current disruptions, this is a moment when substantial progress can be made on key social and environmental problems. At Rally Assets, we are strongly committed to making that progress through working in partnership. As the United Nations says:
“A successful sustainable development agenda requires partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society. These inclusive partnerships built upon principles and values, a shared vision, and shared goals that place people and the planet at the centre, are needed at the global, regional, national and local level.”
We hope you’ll join us and many other impact investors in making the COVID-19 pandemic a turning point for a better world.
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