The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development brought the critical challenge of how private capital can support its new goals—the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—to the attention of finance, business and policy actors. Impact finance instruments, which aim to obtain both financial and positive social/environmental returns simultaneously, can serve as effective institutional mechanisms to support the financing of SDGs. Social impact bonds (SIBs) are part of this emerging field. SIBs represent multi-stakeholder partnerships, built on outcome-based contracts, designed to harness private impact-oriented investors, service providers and public entities to address social or environmental problems. SDG 17 considers partnerships priority instruments for the achievement of SDs targets. This paper provides an exploratory analysis into the field of Social Impact Bonds and aims to (i) understand how such instruments are suitable for involving sustainable economy actors in SDG-based partnerships; (ii) determine the interplay between SIBs and SDGs. In order to address these questions, the article presents a multiple case study that includes a cross case analysis of four SIBs experienced in different social policy areas and different countries. As secondary step, the study matches phases and activities of SDG-based financial partnerships derived from a literature review with those experienced by each SIB case study. The results show that SIBs are fully compliant with SDG-based financial partnership structures derived from the literature, and their architecture reveals a high degree of SDG investment readiness. The originality of the research consists of including SIBs in the analysis of the new financial tools for the achievement of the SDGs, and extending them into the field of partnerships for the Goals, at the center of SDG 17. The paper fills the significant gap in the current research related to the issues of financing sustainable development and financial sector instruments on sustainability.
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