World Investment Forum: Promoting Investment For Sustainable Development

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From this coming December 6-10, government leaders, global CEOs and other investment stakeholders will be stepping up efforts to promote investment for sustainable development at the 7th biennial United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) World Investment Forum (WIF).

It will also be the first-ever Asian E-Commerce Week to be held in Abu Dhabi.

The WIF is the largest global platform for high-level dialogue and action on investment and development. This year’s edition will seek to accelerate actions to align international investment with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi and the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, Abdullah Bin Ahmed Al Saleh, signed on February 13, an agreement to host the forum.

“At the onset of what UN Secretary-General António Guterres has declared the decade of action on Agenda 2030, more investment must be mobilized into areas of greatest need to ensure inclusive prosperity. I thank the United Arab Emirates for offering to host this important forum”, Dr. Kituyi said at the signing.

Al Saleh said: “The forum is a unique platform to facilitate policymaking and joint action that is necessary to stimulate investments in development areas.”

A close link will be sought with the underlying theme of the World Expo 2020, “Connecting Minds. Creating the Future.”

Investors, firms and governments are, in increasing numbers, putting sustainability at the core of their activities. Initiatives like the WIF can change investor behavior and further leverage investment for sustainable development.

This change requires rapid and constructive dialogue between all stakeholders, the sharing of best practices, and the agreement of concrete investments and financing solutions. The biennial forum, therefore:

It produces strategies to address global investment and development challenges.

Facilitates networking between global leaders in business and politics.

Stimulates public, and private action on investment for sustainable development.

It offers a unique opportunity to influence investment policymaking and shape the global investment environment.

The forum will provide attendees with the opportunity to interact with high-level participants from the global investment community, including heads of state and government and ministers.

Other regular participants are executives of global companies and stock exchanges, sovereign wealth fund managers, investment treaty negotiators, heads of investment promotion agencies, international investment location experts, heads of international organizations, parliamentarians, civil society representatives, eminent scholars, and the international media.

Three key issues

This year’s forum will focus on three key issues facing the global investment and development community through a series of high-level events:

How can investment stakeholders more rapidly integrate sustainability criteria into investment decisions and business operations and create both long-term value and sustainable development impact?

How can governments and businesses respond to the far-reaching development consequences of technological change and its impact on investment, harnessing its potential, while mitigating the risks of premature de-industrialization and social change?

What are the implications of increasing fragmentation in international economic policymaking, especially in trade and investment that has led to a rise in protectionism, as well as an emphasis on regionalism?

These issues pose both challenges and opportunities for the global investment community, said UNCTAD’s director of investment and enterprise, James Zhan.

“The forum will help advance an action-oriented, solutions-driven policy agenda, that will bring the SDGs to fruition”, Zhan said.

With the stakes for our planet and economy ever higher, and with UNCTAD’s latest forecast for global investors looking weak, the WIF can help change investor behavior and further leverage investment for sustainable development.

e-Commerce Week

UNCTAD is uniquely placed to address the cross-cutting development implications of e-commerce and the digital economy.

Over the years, its e-Commerce Weeks have become the leading forum for ministers, government officials, CEOs, international organizations, development banks, academics, and civil society to discuss the development opportunities and challenges associated with the digital economy.

The Asia E-Commerce Week in Abu Dhabi, the second regional event ever will offer a weeklong targeted programme for policymakers and other stakeholders to identify innovative ways for shaping the digital economy and better harness the increased digitalization of economies, with a specific focus on Asia and the Pacific.

During the week-long meeting, participants will be offered space to Share: Bring all the voices to the table for an inclusive, multi-stakeholder dialogue at the national and sub-regional levelLearn: Hear from regional and international partners which good practices have been successfully implemented to harness the digital transformations, and Connect and network: Meet local and international partners in one place and take projects forward.

WIF was, however, established in 2008 to fill a systemic gap in global economic governance. At the international level, economic governance has several pillars, including a multilateral monetary system overseen by the IMF and a multilateral trading system governed by the WTO.

But there is no equivalent for international investment policy. In the absence of a multilateral system for cross-border investment, the WIF provides a global platform to gather policymakers, the private sector and other key stakeholders for high-level discussion and action to shape international investment policy. Previous editions took place in Accra (2008), Xiamen (2010), Doha (2012), Geneva (2014 and 2018), and Nairobi (2016).

Similarly, this annual event brings together ministers, senior government officials, business representatives, international organizations, development banks, academics, and civil society to discuss the development opportunities and challenges associated with the evolving digital economy.

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