An International Support Programme for Sustainable Investment Facilitation

Sauvant, Karl P.; Hamdani, Khalil

The global challenges of poverty, sustainable development, and climate change are being tackled with renewed vigour in international negotiations of sustainable development goals for 2016–2030. New commitments also mean increased demands for investment—quantitatively more and qualitatively more sustainable. The latter depends on unleashing the inherent package of benefits embedded in capital and on creating shared value for all stakeholders. Much evidence suggests that sustainability can be commercially viable under appropriate policy frameworks. Hence, the need to put such frameworks in place, globally and nationally, to ensure meeting the increased investment demands of the future. Actions at the national level will require international support. This note advances the case for an international support programme for sustainable investment facilitation. As it explains, potentially all investments are sustainable, but the appropriate policy frameworks need definition, often in novel ways and increasingly in partnership with multiple stakeholders, domestic and foreign. Facilitating investment for future needs, therefore, is not a matter of promotion-as-usual, but a process of discovery and diffusion of new approaches and applications, a process that needs nurturing and support by the international community. Ways in which such backing can be provided to an international support programme for sustainable investment facilitation are discussed in detail, including making use of the World Trade Organization- (WTO) led Aid-for-Trade Initiative and the recently adopted WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. The issues mentioned for possible inclusion in the support programme, as well as the options outlined on how such a programme could be put in place, are illustrative. The key premise is the importance—and urgency—of creating more favourable conditions for sustainable FDI flows to meet the investment needs of the future. As governments and the private sector increasingly share this view, they will hopefully muster the political will and find the appropriate venue to put an international support programme for sustainable investment facilitation in place.


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April 3, 2017