• News
  • Columns
  • Interviews
  • BW Communities
  • Events
  • BW TV
  • Subscribe to Print
BW Businessworld

2.5 Trillion Dollar Investment Gap To Achieve SDGs: Nisha Dutt, CEO, Intellecap

In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Nisha Dutt, CEO, Intellecap, discusses the way forward in establishing social defaults, ensuring an equitable future for all, and the need for collective action


With just 13 years left for achieving the sustainable development goals, there still exist significant gaps in investment, finance and political will, which will require partnerships and collaborations between all stakeholders. In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Nisha Dutt, CEO, Intellecap, discusses the way forward in establishing social defaults, ensuring an equitable future for all, and the need for collective action. 


What according to you is the way forward in establishing social defaults and ensuring an equitable future for all?

We live in transformative times. Today, in an interconnected and extremely dynamic world - we possess a diverse range of technology and resources with which we can solve challenges to create an equitable future for all. But to ensure this future, we must understand the importance of working together to exchange knowledge and networks; distribute gains impartially, and work on providing all stakeholders with improved quality of life, that ensures mental and physical well-being. Establishing new social defaults require a multi-stakeholder approach; we need entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, corporates, academics, policymakers, and other thought-leaders from around the world to come together, deliberate and discuss their roles, and create a roadmap for shared prosperity; only then can we ensure an equitable future for all.

How can innovative finance be used to finance the establishment of social defaults?

The UN SDGs are extremely important in establishing new social defaults, but based on a recent UN estimate, there is a USD$ 2.5 trillion investment gap across developing countries to achieve the 17 SDGs. If we have to use innovative finance to establish our social defaults, we have to close this investment gap by exploring new routes to access capital like citizen-driven crowdfunding, or the use of cryptocurrency for development. We will need to reconfigure the channels of capital flows, and modes through which investments are made - using more innovative structures such as blended finance models. The challenge actually lies in enabling these innovative structures, we need to critically think of elements that will form an enabling ecosystem and the kind of actions we will have to take to make innovative finance work in favor of our new social defaults.

What does the future for work and employment entail in an equitable world?

Innovations in automation, AI systems, and robotics are leading us into a world with an “augmented workforce.” With growing automation, the future of work and employment seems to be one that is fair to all, the rise of an augmented workforce, for instance, would mean reduced drudgery and increased productivity - making leisure a possibility for all. But these ideas are nascent, to ensure there is a future of work and employment, and to ensure it exists in an equitable world - we will need to work towards securing livelihoods for those with no access to employment, appropriately skilling the workforce so people remain relevant, and ensuring that the automated, augmented workforce is not one that will take over; but assist in creating an equitable, comfortable, and secure world for everyone.

Is it possible to ensure basic nutrition and access to food for all without ecological consequences?

One of our biggest immediate problems is ensuring access to an adequate supply of nutritious food to the world’s 7 billion people. Feeding our growing population is an extremely environmentally stressful activity, causing deforestation, GHG emissions, loss of agrobiodiversity, and antimicrobial resistance of pests and other crop menaces. Going forward, our challenge is only going to grow bigger, with the population projected to increase to over 9 billion, and our resources estimated to decrease. However, there is hope. If we invest and design in a conscientious manner, focusing our efforts towards creating an equitable future with new social defaults like ensuring basic nutrition and access to food for all; ensuring the right to a clean environment - it is possible to feed the world sustainably, without ecological consequences.

How can a health-economy be designed which prioritizes well-being for all?

Our healthcare systems have most often focused on the transactional treatment of health-related states, what one would call a “break-fix” model of healthcare. To design a health-economy that prioritizes well-being for all requires us to change the narrative of healthcare altogether, from the “break-fix” to the ‘unbreakable’ - creating a model that focuses more on prevention is the first step towards achieving our goal. But our path, like many others, is fraught with hurdles to overcome - especially those of providing proper care, ensuring affordability and access, all while making a healthy life for all the priority over maximizing profits.

How can collective action be used to solve some of the most pressing challenges of the world such as food, jobs, economy, urbanization, and health and help create sustainability?

Sankalp has constantly leveraged the power of collective action and will in solving some of the most pressing challenges of the world. Its focused ethos on creating an ecosystem of driven, committed, and influential players in addressing issues across the sectors of food, employment, health, and the urban economy (to name a few) has shown that no one individual or organisation can solve these challenges alone. It is only collective, and common action towards prosperity, with predetermined hypotheses for change and a vision of the future that can help us begin to, if not solve the problem altogether; because collective action ensures transparency and accountability - both of which go a long way in creating responsibility through responsible action.

How does Sankalp aim to build an ecosystem for innovations by connecting the developing world to the developed world and entrepreneurs to investors?

Over the past 9 years, Sankalp has brought together more than 700 organisations from 50 countries, and catalysed the early stage funding of more than USD$240 million, connecting over 600 enterprises to investors globally. We have always focused on organising influential and action-oriented gatherings that pivot on the ideas of sustainability, innovation, and entrepreneurship. This year too, Sankalp is bringing together a diverse range of individuals, carefully curated to help build an innovation ecosystem that will define the way the emerging markets develop with help from the developed world. For this year’s Sankalp, we are curating 600 entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, corporates, academics, policy makers, and other thought leaders so we can collectively learn, create, and progress, towards new social defaults and an equitable future for all.

Tags assigned to this article:
sustainability employment

Top themes and market attention on: