Finnish government backs UN impact investing initiative

The government of Finland is making a €20m investment in the UN OPS Social Impact Initiative

The United Nations’ Office for Project Services has opened a new base in Helsinki, launched through support from the government of Finland and the City of Helsinki.

From its new home in Sofia Future Farm, UNOPS’ initiative (known as S3I) will undertake major sustainable infrastructure projects in three key sectors including renewable energy, affordable housing, and health – financed in large part through private investment.

To date, UNOPS S3I has announced several major affordable housing and renewable energy projects in the Caribbean, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mexico and Pakistan.

More than 800,000 new affordable homes will be built as part of the broader initiative, making it one of the most ambitious affordable housing projects in the world, according to UNOPS.

Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori said the initiative is of global importance and supports Helsinki’s goal of implementing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“We were really impressed with the commitment of the Finnish government in supporting new and innovative ways to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” UNOPS’ executive director Grete Faremo said.

“This aligns well with our ambition to build an international social impact investing initiative, helping nations across the world to achieve their SDG priorities,” Faremo added.

Ville Skinnari, Finland’s minister for development cooperation and foreign trade, believes the combination of public and private financing will provide a new channel for managing the developing country risks and enable a greater social impact.

“Public financing will also mobilise private finance for promoting sustainable development. [UNOPS dedicated S3I] office in Helsinki will also assist in building sustainable growth and in establishing new areas of expertise in Finland,” he added.