CUTS Daily Bulletin #1 | October 16, 2023
The World Investment Forum, 2023 is being organised at Abu Dhabi on 16-20 October, 2023. To visit the website and access more details about the conference, interested individuals are encouraged to visit the WIF website.
For earlier bulletins, please click here
Programme at a Glance
To Register 
Grand Opening 2023
(Date: October 16, 2023 Time: 10:30-12:30)

The 8th UNCTAD World Investment Forum aims to sustain its salience as a platform where global leaders, investors, and relevant stakeholders gather to bring forth problems arising between investment and sustainable development, intending to solve them through dialogue and cooperation. The previous global events – the COVID-19 pandemic, economic shocks, and geopolitical strife had contributed to the cracks in global society, which calls for nations to pursue a multilateral approach specifically on global finance and investment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The public and private sector's role in realising the SDGs is paramount to ensure inclusive growth. This will entail strong governance and better transparency and accountability from both actors to balance long-term profitability and sustainability of investment practices. 

Session Highlights
At present, there is at least a 4 trillion-dollar investment gap in pursuing the SDGs, meaning finances are not getting to the countries who need it most. By 2030, we are projected to achieve only 50 per cent of the SDGs. The gap continues to widen due to the following: risks, poor institutional capacities and investment promotions, sound policies, and a robust international financial architecture. All speakers expressed concern and agreement to close this gap by knowing what works and what does not based on local contexts. 
The developing countries' representation in the panel shared how vital foreign direct investment (FDI) is in achieving their development goals. For instance, Timor Leste has been actively engaging developed economies regarding their resources, such as gas and energy reserves, to help boost their economy.
On the other hand, as rich countries only constitute 15 per cent of the world’s population, the developing world cannot always expect developed nations to carry the burden of global investment. This is why investors and markets are essential in building the global finance architecture. Only by regional and global support alongside mutually supportive actions, we can achieve a more sustainable investment climate for everyone. 
The regressiveness of local tax systems was also brought up as more taxes were being extracted from the poor than the rich. This needs to be addressed by high-income countries because a lot of finances can be redirected to boost lending capacity, financing special facilities to fight climate change and health. Moreover, governments are challenged to rethink expenditure priorities to allow achieving SDGs alongside national priorities. 
On a positive end, parliaments are in the business of enacting laws that encourage public finance for development. They agree that the more fundamental way to attract private investments is through investing in health, education, and public goods. Suggesting that least-developed countries (LDCs) invest more in human capital and public goods as a way to go up on the development nexus is more critical than increasing people's taxes. Likewise, improving transparency and accountability across sectors, especially the public sector, is the most critical factor in facilitating investment growth. 
Responsible energy choices were also highlighted in realising global investment. The speakers adjured the plenary to commit to the renewable energy revolution towards sustainable economies. Lastly, the session also mentioned the Gaza conflict and emphasised our moral obligation to uphold justice, human dignity, and security of our Palestinian brothers. 
Speakers of the Session were:

  • Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
  • Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman, Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development
  • José Ramos-Horta President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste and Nobel laureate
  • H.E. Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, President of the Republic of Togo
  • H.E. Akylbek Zhaparov Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic
  • Martin Chungong, Secretary-General, Inter-Parliamentary Union
  • Ray Dalio, Founder and CIO Mentor, Bridgewater
  • James X. Zhan - Director of Investment and Enterprise, UNCTAD

(Reporting by Hannah Gabrielle Tejoso, Rapporteur Volunteer for World Investment Forum, CUTS International)

Symposium on Developing Public Sector Sustainability Reporting Standards that the World Needs
UNCTAD, in partnership with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
(Date: October 16, 2023 Time: 13:30-15:15)

This session focused on discovering how high-quality reporting in the public sector drives investments. It started with a premise that public sector reporting standards must be grounded to minimise grey areas and that professional accountants are seen as actors helping to ensure a sustainable global finance environment. 
Session Highlights
The public sector is highlighted to have a significant and unique role in global finance. Thus, this entails sustainable reporting and assurance. Although we can use accounting standards set by the private sector, these rarely meet the needs and contexts of the public sector. These reporting practices must be hinged on the definition of sustainable development, which includes environment, social inclusion, and economic growth. 
The sustainability reporting in the public sector is important because it advances sustainable development. This supports an economy-wide perspective for countries and also informs capital markets and development partners to make sound decisions. Likewise, sustainable reporting promotes transparency and accountability, building public trust. 
The public sector is also seen as a complex entity. This is why standard-setting must take a whole-society approach rather than outcomes-based. The sustainability reporting principles must focus on the areas of most significant impact, aligned with overarching strategies, leading by example, and selecting appropriate frameworks. Meaning, practices must align with a country’s context, emphasising the government's responsibility to ensure proper documentation. It was recommended for governments to use current financial statements and basis in terms of reporting and assurances. Only by getting accurate information can states make sound economic and investment decisions.
Climate is also at the heart of sustainable reporting. The International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB) has begun developing a public sector climate-related disclosure standard, which includes a sustainability framework that merits consultation paper and feedback, International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and hoping to release this to the public by 2025. 
Likewise, a new research paper was revealed in partnership with ACCA, the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), and the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), where they explored possible reporting and assurance factors for the public sector. As the position of the public sector remains ambiguous, a high-level and multi-stakeholder effort must be made to develop a sustainable reporting assurance. Concerns about sustainability data, such as greenwashing, were also tackled.
Panellists suggested two solutions to minimise this, such as policy change and assurance – switching from voluntary disclosure and assurance to mandatory. Furthermore, the panellists stressed that the implementation of these sustainability standards entails supporting the LDCs, which include skills development and capacity-building. Because left on their own, LDCs will face difficulty adhering to these standards. 
On the Panel were:

  • Ross Smith, Programme and Technical Director, IPSASB
  • Maggie Mcghee Executive Director, ACCA
  • Peter Paul Van De Wijs, Chief External Affairs Officer, GRI
  • David G. Madon Director, Sustainability, Policy and Regulatory Affairs, IFAC
  • Caroline Aggestam Pontoppidan Professor, Copenhagen Business School
  • Bailey Church Partner, Accounting Advisory Services, KPMG, Canada
  • Archana Shirsat Deputy Director General, INTOSAI
  • Iheanyi O. Anyahara Director, Directorate of Accounting Standards (Public Sector), Financial Reporting Council, Federal Republic of Nigeria
  • Alex Metcalfe Head of Public Sector, ACCA

(Reporting by Hannah Gabrielle Tejoso, Rapporteur Volunteer for World Investment Forum, CUTS International) 

Opening of Academic Track
(In partnership with AIB, Graduate Institute-CFD, CEPR, NYU, UNU-WIDER, SIEL, CCSI)
(Date: October 16, 2023 Time: 13:45 -15:15)

The WIF 2023 Academic Track was organised in partnership with leading academic institutions and associations in disciplines related to investment and development. The track includes a series of thematic events integrating research and ideas from leading scholars, researchers, executives from global companies and senior policymakers.

It covered a broad spectrum of issues related to foreign investment, MNEs, and development, including themes such as the energy transition, sustainable infrastructure, FDI and women empowerment, SME internationalisation, industry 4.0 and the future of global investment.

Session Highlights
Scholars in the session emphasised that achieving a successful energy transition is not only vital for reducing environmental impact but also presents economic opportunities as the global energy landscape evolves. They spoke about FDI, which likely examined how it can promote gender equality in the workplace, ensuring that women have equal opportunities for leadership and participation in the global economy.

The discussions explored how sustainable infrastructure investments can drive economic development, improve quality of life, and contribute to environmental sustainability.

Academicians emphasised about lack of an investment roadmap being a concern. They also spoke about the unique contributions of both the public and private sectors, different categories of investors, such as multinational enterprises, investment funds, and institutional financiers, and various financial methods, including equity and debt investments.

The thought leaders assembled discussed strategies for multinational firms to boost supply-chain resilience. They emphasised three core pillars: production network restructuring, implementing risk management solutions, and enhancing sustainability measures. The panellists elaborated on the first pillar, production network restructuring, highlighting how decisions regarding production locations and investments play a crucial role. They explored the concepts of reshoring and nearshoring to streamline supply chains and diversification to reduce risks and create redundancy within the system. The panellists underscored that these strategies, whether involving centralisation or decentralisation, have substantial implications for international production and FDI.

Specifically, they discussed the potential impact on FDI flows and how it might shift the nature of investments from efficiency-seeking to market-seeking. Also, one of the panellists emphasised the pivotal role of policies and regulations in both mitigating risks and encouraging investments in the clean energy transition. They shed light on how various countries have adopted a range of strategies to promote private investment in renewable energy.

The outcomes of the Academic Track reflected a multidisciplinary approach that promoted collaboration among experts from diverse fields. The discussions led to the generation of innovative insights, contributing to a forward-looking research and development agenda. Participants identified key research areas and appropriate methodologies, ensuring that future investigations are well-informed and effective.

Moreover, the track provided valuable solutions and strategies to address the challenges anticipated in investment and development, underlining its role in shaping the path forward for informed decision-making in this ever-evolving landscape.


  • James X. Zhan, Director, Division on Investment and Enterprise, UNCTAD and Lead, UNCTAD World Investment Forum
  • Sofia Boza Martinez, Ambassador, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Chile to the World Trade Organisation (WTO)
  • Paola Conconi, Professor of Economics, University of Oxford
  • Ralph Ossa, Chief Economist and Director of the Economic Research and Statistics Division, WTO
  • Robert Salomon, Dean of the Stern School of Business, NYU Abu Dhabi
  • Kunal Sen, Director, United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research and Professor of Development Economics at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester (UNU wider)
  • Ari Van Assche, Professor, HEC Montréa
  • Lisa Sachs, Director, Columbia Centre on Sustainable Investment 
  • Amelia U. Santos-Paulino, Chief of Investment Issues Section, Division on Investment and Enterprise, UNCTAD 

(Reporting by Rifa Kabeer, Rapporteur Volunteer for World Investment Forum, CUTS International)

Promoting Investment in the Blue Economy
In partnership with the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA) and the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA)
(Date: October 16, 2023 Time: 13:45 -15:15)

This session highlighted the significance of the blue economy and the urgency of adopting sustainable practices. Despite billions being involved in water-related activities and the generation of 2-6 trillion dollars from the blue economy, the sector remains under-invested. The main concern about this forum was about funds not being directed where most needed and that this represents a window of opportunity.

Dominican Republic, a nation famous for its coastal attractions is an example of a country focusing on tourism. Although tourism now contributes to 22 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), there has been a notable gap in sustainability initiatives. The Dominican Republic is now prioritising, coral rescues and similar initiatives, regulation to penalise companies ignoring sustainability, mitigation efforts, including renewable energy adoption and supporting local agriculture, diversification in tourism offerings, not just beach-centric attractions and capitalising on the Sargasso Sea project.

The Caribbean has a vast marine potential, with 91 per cent of its territory being the sea. For the blue economy to truly flourish, foreign investment and inter-agency cooperation are crucial.

Seychelles' stance on the blue economy, having embraced the blue economy strategy in 2018, Seychelles focuses on minimising ocean waste and screening investments to ensure environmental safety.

The main concern about this forum was about funds not being directed where most needed and that this represents a window of opportunity. Moreover, the need for blue tech innovation and to focus on specific regions to invest the money were highlighted in this session. The following initiatives would be needed to address this concern:

  1. Prioritising the blue economy in emerging nations;
  2. Adopting a holistic approach to blue sustainability;
  3. Concentrating on projects with investment potential; and
  4. Championing startups and innovation.
Another topic that was discussed delved into the delicate balance between the economy and the ecosystem. The degradation of marine life, evidenced by the significant decrease in fish populations, is largely attributed to the damage to seagrasses and coral reefs. Some initiatives, being taken including mangrove restoration, have already shown promising results in reversing these impacts. An economic system that bolsters both environmental and financial prosperity is needed for the coming year.

Concluding the discussion, the financial disparities in blue economy investments were highlighted in the session. Despite the issuance of green bonds valued at 3.8 trillion dollars and the emerging blue bonds, which saw the issuance of 5 billion from 2018-2022, the blue economy remains underfunded. The potential of these bonds is great but the necessity of a clear framework and guidance is needed.

Speakers of the Session were:
  • H.E. Jacqueline Mora, Vice Minister of Tourism, Dominican Republic
  • Neal Spackman, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Regenerative Resources Co.
  • Ronald Theodore, President, CAIPA
  • İsmail Erşahin, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, WAIPA
  • Paul Holthus, Founding President and Chief Executive Officer, World Ocean Council
  • Fadel Jaoui, Chief Research Economist, African Development Bank
  • Anne Rosette, Chief Executive Officer, Seychelles Investment Board 
  • Peters, Financial Journalist, Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC) Africa 

(Reporting by Nahom Kilfemariam Abraham, Rapporteur Volunteer for World Investment Forum, CUTS International)

Opening of the Investment in Agrifood Systems Forum Introduction
(Date: October 16, 2023 Time: 13:45 -15:15)

Being organised on World Food Day the session highlighted the critical role agrifood systems play in tackling global challenges, such as malnutrition, poverty, the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and climate change. Agrifood systems are at the nexus of most SDGs.

Key points included the need for affordable diets, the impact of agriculture on greenhouse gas emissions, the crisis in Ukraine affecting food security, and the critical role of the private sector. Additionally, there was a strong emphasis on protecting migrants, financing food supply chains, and engaging various stakeholders to address these challenges collectively.

Session Highlights
Leaders from various international organisations and nations came together to discuss pressing challenges and potential solutions in the quest for global food security. It emphasised the alarming fact that 3.1 billion people do not have access to an affordable diet. Agriculture systems contribute to one-third of greenhouse gas emissions that originate from these systems. Furthermore, he pointed out that 735 million people worldwide are facing hunger, and hundreds of millions suffer from malnutrition.

The impact of the Ukraine crisis on food security has been profound and there is a need for sustainable finance in the global capital market. The crucial role of the private sector in ensuring food security.

Speakers also raised the critical issue of rural-rural and rural-urban migration affecting food security in Africa. They called for a need to protect migrants and emphasised the importance of financing food and agricultural supply chains.

They highlighted the need for investment in agriculture, particularly in regions struggling to achieve the goal of zero hunger by 2030. The importance of developing the right technological models, enhancing the supply side, and engaging with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as civil society organisations was also underlined.

In summary, the discussions among these international leaders revealed the multidimensional challenges in achieving global food security.
The leaders recognised that addressing food security is not the responsibility of a single entity but requires a collaborative effort from governments, international organisations, the private sector, and civil society. By working together, it is possible to make significant progress toward a world where hunger and malnutrition are no longer prevalent, and food security is a global reality.

Speakers of the Session were:

  • Pedro Manuel Moreno, Deputy Secretary-General, UNCTAD
  • Memma Beibatta, Minister of Agriculture, Head of Delegation, Islamic Republic of Mauritania
  • Salem Abdullah Eissa Salem Al-Socatri, Minister of Agriculture & Irrigation and Fish Wealth, Republic of Yemen
  • Ibrahim Adam Ahmed El-Dukheri, Director General, Arab Organisation for Agricultural Development
  • Namira Nabil Negm, Director, African Migration Observatory
  • Dongyu Qu, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)
  • Abdul Hakim Elwaer, Assistant Director-General, Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa, FAO
  • Lello Francisco, Chairman, Angolan Investment Promotion Agency
  • Anar Azimov, Deputy Chairman for the Agrarian Services Agency, Ministry of Agriculture, Republic of Azerbaijan

(Reporting by Mihir Shekhar Bhonsale, Assistant Policy Analyst, CUTS International)

Organisation from Economic Cooperation
(Date: October 16, 2023 Time: 13:30 -15:00)

The D-8 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and UNCTAD discussed and reflected on the Guiding Principles for Member States which was developed through their cooperation. The session focused on the impact of these Guiding Principles in the reform process of international investment agreements (IIAs) among D-8 member states.

Each speaker expounded on the steps that their respective countries have taken in terms of IIA reform in accordance with the Guiding Principles and the suggestions and insights they extend to other member states in the reform process.

All D-8 member states reiterated their commitment to sustainable development and inclusive growth, aligning the steps each member state took with the Guiding Principles. Member states such as Egypt, Iran, Indonesia, and Türkiye emphasise that their governments have gone through renegotiations and reevaluation of their investment agreements to be inclusive in tackling issues such as climate change, renewable sources of energy, the welfare of their citizens, infrastructure development, modernisation, and digitalisation. Member states also continue to participate in dialogue regarding investment agreements.

There is also an emphasis on collectively pursuing and advocating for sustainable growth which is what the D-8 member states continue to reiterate their commitment to. As a whole, the panel recognises the need for dynamic policies through IIA reforms due to rapidly changing times and will continue to support steps moving towards these beneficial changes.

On the Panel were:

  • H.E. Ambassador Isiaka Abdulqadir Imam, Secretary-General, D-8 Organisation of Economic Cooperation
  • Hamed El-Kady, Senior Coordinator, International Investment Agreements Section, UNCTAD
  • Radwa I. Kamouna, Under Secretary of State, Head of International Relations Department Promotion Sector, General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI), Arab Republic of Egypt
  • Adriani Kusumawardani, Assistant Deputy for Maritime Security and Resilience, The Office of the Deputy for Maritime Sovereignty and Energy Affairs, The Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Investment, Republic of Indonesia
  • Ali Fekri, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance and President, Organisation for Investment, Economic and Technical Assistance of Iran
  • Patience Okala, Director, Legal Services, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission
  • Ambreen Iftikhar, Additional Secretary and Executive Director General, Board of Investment of Pakistan
  • Hasan Aslan Akpinar, Head of International Relations Department, Ministry of Industry and Technology, Republic of Türkiye
  • Punjul Nugraha, Director II, Economy, Implementation and External Relations, D-8 Organisation of Economic Cooperation

Reporting by Naomi Abarrondo, Rapporteur Volunteer for World Investment Forum, CUTS International

Global Leaders Investment Dialogue
(Date: October 16, 2023 Time: 15:00 -17:00)

In this session, global leaders weighed in on the current state of sustainable development and the recommended steps that should be taken moving forward for countries to keep on track with the SDGs for 2030.

Session Highlights
Many funds are labelled as sustainable but the panel honed in on the reality that a quarter of these funds fail to live up to their sustainability goals. Many financial products that are labelled as sustainable have turned out to have little significance in terms of sustainability.

Furthermore, there is an imbalance in the distribution of sustainable funds as the majority of these funds are located in developed nations, with only five per cent of such funds being in developing countries. As such, the positive effects of sustainability are not being directed towards the nations that would benefit the most from them. Much work is being done by regulators and the UNCTAD in remedying these issues through working closely with stock exchangers but there is more to be done. It is emphasised that countries have no fiscal space for mistakes as this jeopardises not just fiscal growth but also human lives as it does not fuel tangible change.

Given this, the panel pushes for better allocation of resources, greater inclusion of private actors, and prudent evaluation of key investment challenges.

Speakers of the Session were:

  • Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General, UNCTAD
  • H.E. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, COP28 President-Designate, UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change, and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology
  • H.E. Khalid Bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih, Minister of Investment, Saudi Arabia
  • Obaid Amrane, Chief Executive Officer, Ithmar Capital, Morocco and Acting Chair, International Forum for Sovereign Wealth Fund
  • Colin Hunt, Chief Executive Officer, Allied Irish Banks
  • Camila Escobar, Chief Executive Officer, Juan Valdez Café
  • Dominic Ng, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, East West Bank
  • Omar El Hamamsy, Chief Executive Officer, Orascom Development Holding
  • Sharanjit Leyl, International Broadcaster

(Reporting by Naomi Abarrondo, Rapporteur Volunteer for World Investment Forum, CUTS International)

Programme at a Glance
To Register