October 18, 2021
The summit segments of the World Investment Forum, the Global Leaders’ Investment Summits, are the headline events of the Forum. They give a platform to global leaders from government, business and the international community to present their vision for the future of investment and sustainable development. The summits discuss the immediate challenges and opportunities in investment and interrelated trade, technology and sustainability issues, and longer‐term developments that we should be aware of.
This first 2021 Global Leaders’ Investment Summit addresses the challenge of restarting the investment engine of growth for a sustainable recovery and of mobilising global investment to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It will pay particular attention to the role that global investment governance needs to play in this regard. At a time when the global pandemic has had a severe impact on investment flows in general, and investment in the SDGs in particular, with some of the achievements made during the years 2015–2019 now being reversed, it is essential for the global investment community to remobilise investment, channel it into SDG sectors, particularly in poverty‐ridden countries, and redouble efforts to ensure that it generates sustainable development impact. The realignment of global investment governance towards increased regionalism and protectionism, and the shift in national economic policies from liberalisation to regulation and intervention, poses an additional challenge in this regard.
The Opening Summit of the World Investment Forum started with how the global pandemic of COVID-19 has placed financial stress unequally on the developing countries and enhanced the borrowing costs for them. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in its productive capacity has degraded largely. In the absence of an immediate bold action, the income support will not be made resilient, which in turn will have a graver impact on the consumers. The Panellists discussed how the international community raised US$3.5 trillion for ‘green spending’ in the overall development of the physical and digital infrastructure in the developing world; however, it is not sufficient. Solutions are needed for overcoming inter connected challenges.
The Panellists, in light of the economy of Barbados, discussed how COVID-19 has affected all in terms of human capital and financial constraints. It has had a major impact upon the remittances from tourism and travel, and in turn the economies which are dependent upon these sectors. The response from the government has been insufficient. On the flip side, COVID-19 has forced the governments, already under stress, to spend more on medical aid. This has reduced the fiscal space for the governments to carry loans. In a situation of this vulnerability, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has raised a ‘Resilient and Sustainability Trust’ to increase the income of people in a manner which remains sustainable.
Further, the discussion emphasised on how important it is that the global financial institutions represent the countries as well, which were formed after the said institution was established. There should be a clear matrix in defining who must reap the benefits of the concessional funds. One approach towards the global investment policy making that the Panellists mutually agreed on is having a ‘prosperity for all’ outlook. Only then will we employ creative solutions for sustainable reconstruction of our economy.
On the other end of the spectrum, new ways of building houses, usage of electric cars, etc. can grant a competitive advantage to the economies. The Panellists stated Barbados as an outstanding example; the entire country is connected via fibre optic network, which allows both internal coordination and access to global supply chains. This, if implemented globally, will make the whole world an inclusive platform.
Another looming threat in conjugation of COVID-19, according to the Panellists, is climate change. The pandemic has created a globally severe setback, which is not likely to end anytime soon. On top of which, recovery from it is risky in the sense that it may stall even before it begins. The Panellists rightly pointed towards a three point action plan:
- To mobilise global investment in order to achieve the SDGs which will ensure a broad based economic recovery where no one is left behind. This entails the implementation of perfectly drafted 2030 Agenda;
- Realignment of global investment forums in order to promote regionalism. This requires a greater contribution from the private sector, for they boost employment opportunities. Observing physical regulations with respect to climate is also pertinent; and
- Consistent development of new technology. An ancillary to these is that the government must consider opening up their economies, for COVID-19 has led to border closures which has hampered the establishment of business or industries in nondomestic nations. A combination of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and a strong multilateral trade system would ensure quality, as opposed to quantity investment.
The President of Armenia affirmed that his country is committed towards the 2030 Agenda. It is believed that the SDGs are a representative for nations to test the extent to which they are ready to combat the global hazards. This is a unique period as the pandemic has strained our global health and weakened the implementation of SDGs in countries like Armenia, which is the seventh most vulnerable country in these aspects. It has not been forgiving of Armenia’s efforts and has been increasing the scale of inequalities. While we require a shape of new life, Armenia has displayed its commitment to consistent technology development.
The President of Botswana has supported and conferred assistance in the 2063 Regional Agenda which has been formed on the lines of 2030 Agenda. It is aimed at supporting the vulnerable groups, to minimise the shock waves that the pandemic has created on the financial standings, especially in the key sectors like that of agriculture, automobile, mining, manufacturing, etc.
On the other hand, Costa Rica, a country of only 5 million people, forms an ecosystem for nearly 350 Multi-National Companies (MNCs) to operate. It has primarily focused its investment in creating sustainable jobs. The 3P – people, planet and purpose, are the key factors that the government of this country concerns itself with. A lot of investment is dispensed in the education of the people for it is believed that human talent is the most valuable resource. Additionally, it has about 95 percent clean and renewable energy.
The Dominican Republic is one of the countries that emits the least greenhouse gases but is affected by climate change severely. A global transformation of the economy in consonance with development must be promoted in order to relieve nation states like the Dominican Republic from excessive burdens that result in additional costs detrimental to their competitiveness and the production of the goods and services in the said nation.
For a future sustained development, the key challenge is an equitable access to the global investment community. There must be a smooth shift from efficiency to resilience, with the growth of trust, equity and a rule based regulatory framework.
- Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary, General, United Nations
- E. Ms. Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister, Barbados and President of UNCTAD 15
- E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly
- John W.H. Denton, Secretary General, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)
- Duarte Pacheco, President, Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU)
- Nandini Sukumar, CEO, World Federation of Exchanges (WFE)
- Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary General, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
On the panel were:
- E. Mr. Armen Sarkissian, President of the Republic of Armenia
- E. Mr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana
- E. Mr. Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of the Republic of Costa Rica
- E. Mr. Mr. Luis Abinader Corona, President of the Dominican Republic
- Bill Winters, CEO, Standard Chartered
- Svein Tore Holsether, CEO, Yara
- Laxman Narasimhan, CEO, Reckitt
- Ignacio Galán, Chairman and CEO, Iberdrola