Can Islamic Finance Drive Sustainable Development Goal Achievement?

The article “Reforming Islamic Finance for Achieving Sustainable Development Goals” explores the potential of Islamic finance in contributing to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the reforms necessary to align it more effectively with sustainability principles.


Islamic finance, guided by Sharia law, promotes ethical practices and social responsibility, making it an attractive option for those seeking an alternative to conventional banking and finance systems.

The article begins by outlining the core principles of Islamic finance, which include the prohibition of interest (riba), uncertainty (gharar), and gambling (maysir). Instead, Islamic finance promotes financial arrangements based on partnerships and profit-sharing, ensuring a more equitable distribution of wealth and fostering transparency in financial transactions. Furthermore, Islamic finance encourages ethical investments, avoiding industries such as alcohol, gambling, and tobacco, while supporting sectors like healthcare, education, and renewable energy.

Islamic finance offers considerable potential in contributing to the achievement of the SDGs. Notably, its emphasis on poverty alleviation through risk-sharing and social welfare mechanisms can significantly reduce poverty and income inequality. By providing microfinance and interest-free loans, Islamic finance empowers small-scale entrepreneurs, enabling them to improve their livelihoods and contribute to economic growth in their communities.

In addition to poverty alleviation, Islamic finance plays a vital role in promoting environmental sustainability. By encouraging investments in environmentally friendly projects such as renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and clean water initiatives, Islamic finance aligns with the SDGs related to climate action and responsible consumption. These investments are crucial in addressing climate change and environmental challenges, making Islamic finance an essential component of sustainable development efforts.

Another critical contribution of Islamic finance lies in financial inclusion. By promoting ethical and inclusive financial practices, Islamic finance aims to provide access to financial services for underserved and marginalized communities. In doing so, it fosters economic development and reduces the economic disparities that hinder progress towards the SDGs.

Infrastructure development is also supported by Islamic finance, with an emphasis on critical projects such as transportation, energy, and healthcare facilities. These investments are essential for economic growth and improved living standards, and Islamic finance’s ethical investment approach complements the sustainable development objectives.

However, to fully realize the potential of Islamic finance in achieving the SDGs, the article suggests several key reforms.

Reforming for Positive Societal Impact

  • Strengthened Ethical Screens: One significant reform is the strengthening of ethical screening processes to ensure that all financial products and investments align with sustainability criteria. This step is essential in maintaining the integrity and credibility of the Islamic finance industry.
  • Prioritizing Impact Investment: Another reform involves prioritizing impact investing. By focusing on projects that deliver measurable social and environmental benefits alongside financial returns, Islamic finance can reinforce its contribution to the SDGs and support sustainable development initiatives effectively.
  • Society-focused Research and Innovation: Furthermore, the article emphasizes the importance of research and innovation within the Islamic finance sector. Promoting research and innovation will lead to the development of new financial products and services that effectively address emerging sustainability challenges. This emphasis on innovation can enhance the industry’s potential in supporting sustainable development goals.
  • Partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals: Finally, collaboration and partnerships among Islamic finance institutions, governments, and international organizations are vital in amplifying the impact of sustainable projects and accelerating progress towards the SDGs. By working together, these stakeholders can address global challenges more effectively and drive positive change on a larger scale.

NEXT Steps

In conclusion, the article highlights the significant potential of Islamic finance in promoting sustainable development and addressing global challenges. By adhering to its core principles and implementing the proposed reforms, Islamic finance can play a substantial role in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. As the world seeks ethical and sustainable solutions for economic and social development, Islamic finance stands as a promising avenue for positive change and lasting impact.

SOURCE: Khan, Tariqullah. (2019). Reforming Islamic Finance for Achieving Sustainable Development Goals. journal of king Abdulaziz University Islamic Economics. 32. 3-21. 10.4197/Islec.32-1.1.

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