SDG Investor Maps in Latin America: Investment Opportunity Insights

Sustainable soya production in Paraguay

Photo by UNDP Paraguay / Santi Carneri

SDG Investor Maps in Latin America: Investment Opportunity Insights

About the SDG Investor Maps and the SDG Investor Platform

The SDG Investor Maps are a market intelligence tool developed by UNDP that translates development needs into tangible investment opportunities. Produced locally by UNDP Country Offices (COs), the SDG Investor Maps follow a standardized 8-step methodology to identify Investment Opportunity Areas (IOAs). IOAs are at the intersection of national development needs and policy priorities, underpinned by actionable data points covering business and impact considerations to guide investor decision-making towards the SDGs, including the complementary SDG Impact Standards.

The findings of the SDG Investor Maps are uploaded to the SDG Investor Platform, which was soft launched at the SDG Investment Fair 2021 in partnership with the UN Secretary General's Global Investors for Sustainable Development (GISD) Alliance. As a publicly accessible online repository of market intelligence, it presents the identified IOAs and allows investors to connect to realize the investment opportunities. Additional country-level facilitation events take place to foster collaborations between enterprises and investors and address policy opportunities.


Insights from Latin American Investment Opportunities

Four SDG Investor Maps have been completed in Latin America, which cumulatively established 76 IOAs across Brazil (21), Colombia (22), Costa Rica (11) and Paraguay (22). With similar socio-economic characteristics – the countries are all classified as upper-middle-income economies by the World Bank – the four Latin American SDG Investor Maps share similar investment opportunities and SDG needs.

Using an adapted Sustainable Industry Classification System (SICS) by the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB), the three most prominent target sectors of the IOAs in the SDG Investor Maps in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay are Food and Beverage (23 IOAs), Infrastructure (13 IOAs) and Renewable Resources and Alternative Energy (12 IOAs). These priority sectors are areas where the most pressing SDG needs, government policy priorities, and investor interests intersect. Therefore, it is not a surprise that these three areas are a priority based on the traditional focus of Latin American countries on agriculture, limited infrastructure to achieve competitiveness, and the region’s rich natural resources. As identified through the SDG Investor Maps, other critical sectors to meet development needs aligned to policy priorities are Health Care and Technology and Communications. Colombia and Costa Rica furthermore prioritize Services as a critical sector, given the investment momentum, natural endowment, and the Governments’ mandates of positioning eco-tourism as a central service offering in the countries.

On the subsector level, Food and Agriculture have the highest number of IOAs (21 IOAs), followed by Health Care Delivery (7 IOAs), across the Latin American SDG Investor Maps. Other relevant subsectors in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay include Utilities and Real Estate. Please see below for comprehensive data on the country, sectoral and subsectoral levels. Considering country-specific dimensions on the sector and sub-sector level in the four Latin American SDG Investor Maps, the following trends emerge:

  • The IOAs from Colombia are predominantly within the Technology and Communications sector (5 IOAs). The country also exhibits a focus on the Food and Beverage sector (4 IOAs). Colombia is the only country that has an IOA related to employment formalization.
  • The Renewable Resources and Alternative Energy and Infrastructure sectors are most prominent in Brazil (5 IOAs each). Agricultural technology is also essential, and forestry enjoys investment momentum within Brazil's national priority.
  • Paraguay's IOAs concentrate on the Food and Beverage sector (7 IOAs), followed by Infrastructure (5 IOAs). Specifically, four IOAs relate to sustainable agriculture production, and one IOA relates to forestry.
  • Costa Rica's IOAs are mainly situated within the Food and Beverage sector (8 IOAs), which make up 73% of the total IOAs. Specifically, within this sector, 6 IOAs relate to Sustainable Agricultural Production and 2 IOAs concern Agricultural Technology.

Across the four countries in Latin America, similar types of IOAs have been established though the SDG Investor Mas that showcase overarching opportunities for investors, categorized as shown in the table below:

IOA categories


Overall, agricultural technology (including irrigation systems) and sustainable agricultural production show the greatest opportunity in the four completed SDG Investor Maps from Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay, followed by microfinancing and microinsurance (including education and affordable housing financing) as well as sustainable energy sourcing. Each country has its particularities in terms of the opportunities, highlighting for example forestry in Brazil and Paraguay as well as tourism and employment formalization in Colombia and Costa Rica.

In terms of SDGs, the IOAs identified in the four Latin American SDG Investor Maps have the potential to contribute to a variety of dimensions of sustainable development. Most prominently, the investment opportunities target SDG 2 on Zero Hunger (22 IOAs), followed by SDG 7 on Affordable and Clean Energy (10 IOAs). Within these SDGs, key indicators the Latin American investment opportunities address center around agricultural productivity (2.3), sustainable food production systems (2.4) and renewable energy share (7.2). Additional SDG indicators the SDG Investor Maps of Colombia, Costa Rica, Paraguay and Brazil relate to prominently are 8.5 on full and productive employment and decent work as well as 15.3 on desertification and restoration of degraded land and soil. See below for the complete distribution of SDGs in the four Latin American SDG Investor Maps.



Chart 1: IOAs per Country
Chart 1 - IOAs per Country




Chart 2 - IOAs per Sector
Chart 2 - IOAs per Sector


Chart 3 - IOAs per Industry
Chart 3 - IOAs per Industry


Chart 4 - IOAs per Primary SDG
Chart 4 - IOAs per Primary SDG