Invest NYC SDG Initiative Cover Photo

CSB Research

Invest NYC SDG Initiative

A two-year initiative to engage the private sector and drive financing toward creating a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient New York City

New York City is the first city in the United States to align its ambitious sustainability goals with those of the world. Our purpose is to support NYC in its work to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — “localizing the SDGs.”

This project aims to take on six primary areas: sustainable mobility, the built environment, climate resilience, renewable energy, food and health, and waste. Ultimately, our goal is to identify the best private sector business and finance opportunities, where there are significant interested key players, realistic business incentives, alignment with government policy, support from the community, and significant impact in meeting the SDGs. 

Through concrete demonstration projects in NYC, we also plan to identify any government policy, and/or finance innovation needed to be successful.  With this work, we hope we will have created a road map for other cities, both in the U.S. and internationally, to achieve the SDGs with strong private sector support.

The Process

The knowledge, technology and financing resources to make significant progress towards the UN SDGs are available, but these resources are currently fragmented and siloed throughout a complex stakeholder ecosystem. As a consequence, collaboration can be difficult and impede SDG development. 

Government Needs the Private Sector

New York City's long-term strategic plan and Green New Deal, OneNYC 2050, was created in alignment with the UN SDGs and is inspiring in its ambition.  Systemic change, however, requires engagement and collaboration between the private and public sectors, at both regional and local government levels.  The UN Business and Sustainable Development Commission's 2017 Better Business, Better World report identified $12 trillion in business opportunity with multi-stakeholder interaction. 

The Private Sector Needs Government

Effective private sector investment in advancing the SDGs will mean understanding that the focus areas in this project are largely supported by public infrastructure, owned and operated by public entities.  This infrastructure requires ongoing management and maintenance within changing physical and financial environments. Real constraints exist for governmental action, particularly as agencies are pushed to do more within the SDG framework.  Government entities are subject to various types of compliance regulations that can make innovative policy development with the private sector difficult. But systemic policy and operational change can take place.

NYU Stern CSB Creates the Space and Supports the Conversation

The NYU Center for Sustainable Business intends to lead and create that space over the next eighteen months.  As a major research university, trusted by public and private sector stakeholders, NYU brings a broad academic community with many departments already engaged in these SDG issues.  Leveraging these resources, NYU Stern CSB will connect important stakeholders among the public sector, interest organizations, and the private sector (including both the corporate and finance sectors) to develop a shared vision of how private sector investment can be stimulated in partnership with the public and non-governmental sectors.

Focus Areas

Invest NYC

 Focus Area   Project Types 
 Sustainable Mobility   Public transportation, electric/hybrid, vehicles, fuel efficiency, and congestion management 
 Built Environment   Energy efficiency, smart buildings, and affordable housing 
 Waste   Circular solutions (for plastics, glass, metals, paper, etc.), combined food waste, and wastewater for energy production 
 Renewable Energy   Wind, solar, ground source heat, identifying renewable energy buyers 
 Food and Health   Food waste, food deserts, food transport, and urban farming 
 Climate Resilience   Prevent, prepare, respond, repair and retreat in public infrastructure and private real estate 

Models for Financing the UN Sustainable Development Goals

This white paper was commissioned by the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business (CSB) to examine models for financing New York City’s sustainability goals as they are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and inform its initiative, Invest NYC SDG.  It is also intended to give cities everywhere an overview of various finance mechanisms, key players in financing, and analyses of key examples.  

CSB is grateful for support from the following sponsors: ConEdison, Goldman Sachs, Pepsico, Sims Metal Management, and The New York Community Trust.

Read the White Paper

Thank you to our Steering Committee

Lindsay Clinton, Executive Vice President of Industry and Economic Innovation, NYC Economic Development Corporation
Lara Croushore, Managing Director, Urban Ocean Lab 
Sander Dolder, Senior Vice President of Industry and Economic Innovation, NYC Economic Development Corporation 
Miles Draycott, Former Chief Risk Officer for the NYC Pension Funds
Jeff Gitterman, Co-Founder, Gitterman Wealth Management
Gretchen Johanns, Group General Counsel and Company Secretary, Sims Metal Management
Dara Kagan, First Vice President, Nonprofit and Social Enterprise Banking, Amalgamated Bank
Will Kennedy, Programme Officer, UN Office of Partnerships
Micah Kotch, Managing Director, Urban-X
Nilda Mesa, Director, Urban Sustainability and Equity Planning Program, Center for Sustainable Urban Development/Earth Institute, Columbia 
Frances Resheske, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Con Ed
Aniket Shah, Senior Fellow at Columbia University Center for Sustainable Investment, Columbia, and former Head of Sustainable Investing, Oppenheimer
Isabel Verkes, Sustainable Investment Data Research, Arabesque
John Williams, Chairman and CEO, Impact Infrastructure


With support from our sponsors, CSB aims to help create a blueprint for private sector financing of the UN SDGs at a municipal level in New York City.