October 18, 2021
This session discussed the possibility of launching a new global alliance for sustainable investment, the World Investment for Development Alliance (WIDA), to support greater collaboration on investment issues. Leading actors who can help shape this new initiative were invited to share their perspectives.
The backdrop is that the world has been undergoing a series of profound changes, brought on by industrial transformation, technological shifts, societal evolution, geopolitical competition and the COVID‐19 pandemic. International investment can tie together and strengthen economies throughout these changes, making the global community stronger rather than weaker. However, international investment flows have changed form, and in many cases declined ‐ with FDI falling globally 35 percent in 2020 ‐ putting their contribution to sustainable development at risk. At the same time, there are trillions of dollars in sustainable finance waiting to capitalise a rebound in Greenfield FDI, if enabling policies and measures are put in place.
Many inter-governmental organisations, business entities, academic initiatives and civil society groups are working to support international investment and its sustainable development outcomes through enabling frameworks. Yet there is potential to better leverage these efforts, so that individual activities lead to more than the sum of the parts.
Issues addressed in the session were:
- How can organisations best work together to achieve the shared objective of growing sustainable investment?
- What are the elements to consider moving forward and create a mechanism for collaboration?
- How should public‐private collaboration be designed, including to help achieve sustainability goals?
Many inter-governmental organisations, business entities, academic initiatives, and civil society groups are working to support international investment and its sustainable development outcomes through enabling frameworks. Yet there is potential to better leverage these efforts so that individual activities lead to more than the sum of the parts. WIDA will allow the development and growth of the member states at both national and international levels.
A minimum of three issues were identified by the Panellists respectively in the session. A few of the overarching issues were related to the Investment prosperity for the organisations involved, with an increase in research and development and the way ahead. COVID-19 has brought about a series of profound changes inclusive of but not limited to technological shifts, geopolitical competition, and industrial transformation in many countries. It has not only affected the economic growth but also the international relations among the countries.
As discussed by the Panellists, sustainable growth can be achieved together with this alliance, by allowing Global events, Discussions, Annual Cluster Conferences, collaborations, and by exchanging views on popular regional issues in such clusters. The idea is to grow together and have a common voice for sustainable development. Both Public and Private Organisations at both regional and national levels should support and come together to enhance research and development among nations involved. Cambodia, for example, is coming up with its new Investment law and few of such policies have been archived from the dialogue and discussions with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The idea is to collaborate, think, discuss and exchange views to enhance one another for a better sustainable future together. One needs to focus on filling the gap between the FDI and local industries by allowing industries exposure to the international market by framing such developmental policies at a regional level. It is for the nations to understand that development in all the sectors will have the potential of socio economic development.
Thus the focus should be on expanding the research and development in all the plausible highlighted areas. It was highlighted in the session that fiscal incentives like; tax holidays for example, at a regional level will allow sustainable growth.
It was noted that FDI has made the lives of the people easy, and given opportunities to grow, especially to women who might be involved in various sectors. The idea for gender neutral laws was pitched by the Panellists. A few of the other questions as discussed were why should there be a collaboration between different organisations, why should the industries or private sectors be at the core of such collaboration, and lastly, what should be the target for such collaborations.
The focus should be on increasing the significant amount of jobs, investing in education, and internal organisational activities to learn from each other in every sphere of development. One idea for such enhanced investment could be One Stop Shop, private sector investments, diversity in stakeholders, etc. The Panellists focused on the idea of co-learning, enhancing the efficiency of dialogue and collaborations through this alliance to bring sustainable investment future.
A few of the other highlights were Technical and Infrastructural investments, enhancing transparency among members of the alliance. Whilst the investment landscapes have become uncertain, the idea of one voice of advocacy among the alliance members was pitched. As a bigger picture, cross Boarder investment was seen as the need of the hour to bridge the gap created by the COVID-19 Pandemic. The alliance will aim at allowing such gaps to be filled by boosting partnerships. This alliance will also allow for a much formal platform for collaborations, joint research, and development with an exchange in information, reduction in duplication of efforts, and facilitation in many nuanced areas of research. The alliance will help to resolve and focus on the Climate crisis by coming together to frame a much cleaner model, policies, and framework.
- James Zhan, Director, Investment and Enterprise, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
On the panel were:
- E. Mr. Sok Chenda Sophea, Minister attached to the Prime Minister, Secretary General of the Council of the Development of Cambodia
- Chiza Charles Chiumya, Acting Director for Industry, Mining and Entrepreneurship
- Markus Thill, President, Africa region, Robert Bosch (Pty) Ltd
- Ivan Nimac, Acting Practice Manager, Investment Climate, World Bank Group
- Ana Novik, Head, Investment Division, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
- Fahad Al Gergawi, President, World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies
- Rupa Chanda, Director, Trade, Investment and Innovation Division, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
- Nathalie Bernasconi Osterwalder, Executive Director, IISD Europe and Director, Economic Law and Policy Programme, International Institute for Sustainable Development
- Rajesh Aggarwal, Chief, Trade Facilitation and Policy for Business, International Trade Centre (ITC)
- Farok Contractor, President, Academy of International Business
- Sean Doherty, Head, International Trade and Investment and Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum