Briefing Note: Aligning International Investment Agreements with the Sustainable Development Goals

Johnson, Lise; Sachs, Lisa E.; Lobel, Nathan Wiener

International investment agreements (“IIAs”) provide enforceable protections to foreign investors based on the premise that enforceable investor protections will stimulate greater foreign investment flows, which, in turn, are assumed to promote development. However, as understandings of both the effectiveness of these agreements as well as the effects of investment and investment governance on sustainable development have evolved, it is not clear that IIAs, as currently designed, are fit for their purpose of promoting development. Worse: they may be undermining efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Change is, therefore, essential. In this note, we summarize our proposal that IIAs should be designed and evaluated with respect to their ability to:
• Encourage and channel investments that contribute to sustainable development, and do not support harm-causing investments;
• Foster, and not constrain, responsible, SDG-advancing governance at the national level; and
• Promote international cooperation to overcome transnational and collective action challenges related to the governance of international investment.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
Published Here
April 13, 2021