CUTS Daily Bulletin #3 | October 18, 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 
Investment Ministerial Roundtable
Investment for Sustainable Development
(Date: October 18, 2023 Time: 10:00-12:00)

The session comprised statements and perspectives from various countries regarding sustainable development, investment, and related challenges. These statements collectively highlighted the global commitment to sustainable development, addressing climate change, and attracting investments in various sectors. The speakers in the session articulated that countries are focusing on green energy, resource management, policy frameworks, and global partnerships to achieve their sustainable development goals.

Session Summary
Speakers emphasised the importance of investing in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and sustainable finance. They identified the crucial sectors as energy, water, and transport infrastructure and called for government intervention. A conducive environment for research and development is essential for sustainable finance. Speakers identified the use of tax incentives and regulatory measures to promote sustainable development and attract investments. They underlined the importance of specific strategies for sustainable development and partnerships.

The importance of a resilient economy despite resource constraints was highlighted as a major problem. The focus ought to be on environmental preservation and sustainable development. There is also the need for energy access and the realisation of UN SDGs. The salience of social certification and the "leave no one behind" policy is crucial for the success of governmental policies. Leaders also stressed the need for global economic globalisation and inclusive development.

Governments need to have an enabling environment and policy continuity. In this context, the recently concluded WTO Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) Agreement was deemed important. It aims at attracting and retaining more and higher quality investment, taking into account the respective development priorities of members.

While many nations are facing discussions around the transition from mining and energy with a focus on reducing carbon emissions, governments need to find a new balance between biodiversity preservation, conserving water resources, and investment. The focus must be on addressing the need for new considerations and an end to ‘treaty shopping’. The key therefore is to highlight the changing global landscape and the necessity for finding the new balance.

Speakers in this session also focussed on nature conservation and the importance of attracting private investments for SDGs. They highlighted green economic growth, renewable energy, and green investments and encouraged public-private partnerships in clean energy. The global leaders stressed the need to advocate for a balanced approach to incentivise renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gases. They also emphasised the importance of incentives and policy frameworks in marketing sustainable development.

The developmental priorities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region included water resource management and sustainable development. They also acknowledged the importance of hydrocarbon resource management.

Investing in sustainable development cannot ignore exploring sources of energy, such as green hydrogen. In the quest for a sustainable and environmentally responsible energy future, three pillars stand out as potential game-changers viz. Hydro energy, Green Hydrogen, and Green Finance. These elements, combined with Sustainable Technology and a focus on community involvement, are critical in addressing the pressing need for a transition to cleaner energy sources. One effective strategy to harness their potential is through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).

PPPs are key to realising the potential of these elements. By collaborating with the private sector, governments can access additional resources, expertise and investments, expediting the development of sustainable energy projects. Community involvement is equally vital. Engaging local communities ensures their support, reduces opposition to sustainable projects, and guarantees equitable sharing of benefits.

Furthermore, the world needs hydrogen more than ever. As we aim to curb carbon emissions and mitigate climate change, hydrogen stands as a versatile and clean energy carrier with the potential to revolutionise multiple sectors of the economy.

With hydrogen as the linchpin, we have the potential to forge a more sustainable and eco-friendly energy landscape, contributing significantly to the collective global effort to combat climate change and safeguard our planet for future generations.

Speakers of the Session were:

  • Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
  • Wamkele Keabetswe Mene, Secretary-General, African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat
  • Abdulla Bin Adel Fakhro, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Kingdom of Bahrain
  • Mmusi Kgafela, Minister of Trade and Industry, Republic of Botswana
  • Serge Gnaniodem Poda, Minister of Industrial Development, Commerce, Artisanal Affairs and SMEs, Burkina Faso
  • Alexandre Dias Monteiro, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Energy, Cabo Verde
  • Paul Tasong Njukang, Minister Delegate in Charge of Planning, Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Cameroon
  • Germán Umaña Mendoza, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Colombia
  • Manuel Tovar Rivera, Minister of Foreign Trade, Republic of Costa Rica
  • Zdenko Lucić, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Republic of Croatia
  • Ambassador Isiaka Abdulqadir Imam, Secretary-General, D-8 Organisation of Economic Cooperation
  • Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People, European Union
  • Manoa Seru Kamikamica, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Cooperatives, Small and Medium Enterprises and Communications, Republic of Fiji
  • Ehsan Khandouzi, Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance, Islamic Republic of Iran
  • Kholoud Mohammad Hashem Al Saqqaf, Minister of Investment, the Kingdom of Jordan
  • Shakkaliyev Arman, Minister of Trade and Integration, Republic of Kazakhstan
  • Manaf AbdAlaziz Eshaq Al-Hajri, Minister of Finance, State of Kuwait
  • Lemrabott Ould Bennahi, Minister for Trade, Industry, Manufacturing and Tourism, Islamic Republic of Mauritania
  • Ramesh Rijal, Minister of Industry, Commerce And Supplies, Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
  • Devika Vidot, Minister of Investment, Industry and Entrepreneurship, Seychelles
  • Dilum-Amunugama, State Minister of Investment Promotion, Sri Lanka
  • Kadirzoda Sadi Sanginmurod, Chairman of the State Committee for Investments and State Property Management, Republic of Tajikistan
  • Serdar Jorayev, Minister of Finance and Economy, Turkmenistan
  • Dominic Johnson, Minister of State (Minister for Investment), Department for Business and Trade, United Kingdom
  • Paula Narváez Ojeda, President, United Nations Economic and Social Council
  • Laziz Kudratov, Minister of Investment, Industry and Trade, Uzbekistan
  • Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman, Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development
  • Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, Director-General, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development
  • Bahlil Lahadalia, Minister of Investment, Republic of Indonesia
  • Kitila A. Mkumbo, Minister of State, President’s Office, Planning and Investment, The United Republic of Tanzania
  • Renganaden Padayachy, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Republic of Mauritius
  • Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, Arab Republic of Egypt
Investment in Agrifood Systems Forum: Innovative finance to unlock investment in sustainable agrifood systems
Organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN
(Date: October 18, 2023 Time: 11:00-12:30)

Sustainable agrifood systems are traditionally seen as the responsibility of the public sector to finance, partly given the inherent risks and transaction costs that make these systems unattractive to channel private investments. The session attempted to tackle the ways through which more investments may be funnelled into sustainable agrifood systems through blended finance methods.

Session Highlights
Financing sustainable agrifood systems is largely the responsibility of the public sector. Given the inherent risks of investing in the agricultural sector, there are fewer incentives for private investors to fund agricultural projects. Furthermore, the agricultural industries of emerging markets have an increasingly difficult time attracting investors as the already present risks and transactional costs of financing the agricultural sector are exacerbated by their lack of resources in market economies that are very competitive.

Given the many challenges of directing private investments into sustainable agricultural systems, the panel discussed various paths that could be undertaken to involve and attract the private sector to invest in such systems. They state that the role of PPPs is important in this aspect because, through this blended finance method, national agencies guarantee that they shoulder the responsibility of absorbing possible financial losses and neutralising risks. With the presence of these national agencies as a financial safety net, more investors will see the feasibility of investing in the agricultural sector.

The panel also recommended further research and development endeavours that could minimise risks and costs. At the same time, there is also an emphasis on collaborative efforts among the public and private sectors and international development organisations. In this respect, the panel acknowledges that more funds need to be allocated by international organisations to agricultural projects.

As a whole, the blended finance methods developed by both public and private finance experts highlight the role of the government in cushioning the given risks of investing in agriculture. As a result, investors are then more incentivised to channel their investments into sustainable agrifood systems and projects.

On the Panel were:

  • Michael Dethlefsen, Head of Division of Innovative Finance and International Financial Institutions, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation
  • Sachin Kumar Sharma, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade
  • Camille Huret, Co-Founder, Beyond Finance
  • Mauricio Benitez, Agribusiness and Finance Investment Specialist, FAO of the UN
(Reporting by Naomi Abarrondo, Rapporteur Volunteer for World Investment Forum, CUTS International)
Sustainable Finance and Business: Academic and Practitioner Dialogue
(Date: October 18, 2023 Time: 10:30-13:00)

The growing global finance landscape is becoming more complex as increased stakeholders are attempting to include sustainability in the picture. The role of the stock exchanges is crucial not only to regulate the market flow but also to promote sustainable reporting standards in the market, allowing companies and investors to align their practices and attract more investment. The Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) have developed a master plan to attain climate sustainability to integrate recommendations made by the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) for stock exchanges. This session focused on bridging the gap between academia and practitioners toward conceptualising more sustainable practices and framing recommendations for the capital markets.

Session Highlights
The miscommunication between academia and practitioners was highlighted mainly because of the data collection gap the market is willing to provide access to. It was stressed that academic work can also provide policy implications and not just merely research. However, practitioners expressed that they are truly willing to provide data to institutional bodies, but in most cases, academic requests lack clear proposals and direction. Therefore, academia must first possess a mandate and have a clear policy understanding and recommendations.

On sustainability reporting, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) revealed that they are creating the first set of standardising sustainability disclosures. In their research, developing countries like Nigeria wanted to accede to these standards, hoping to attract more investment. True enough, improving sustainability reporting could also benefit investors in their decision-making.

The role of financial markets and stock exchanges in regulation is therefore crucial because there is no world government to appeal to. The financial market is a trusted system in the global market where they could urge practitioners to participate in the sustainable finance transition. Stock exchanges are uniquely positioned to encourage engagements like ESG, corporate governance, and climate finance.

However, their influence is often overlooked and needs attention. As we face wealth transfers from the boomers and the new generation, the role of stock exchanges in bridging the younger generation to sustainable investment is crucial. This can happen through democratising access to the sustainable finance market.

The session ended with recommended actions, such as collaboration and education. In collaboration, academia, and practitioners must make a conscious effort to produce research addressing the nuances and silos of sustainable global finance.

There is also an agreement for more transparent and accessible data sharing between each other. These studies must also be recommended to the right publications and journals to gain more recognition from relevant stakeholders. On the other hand, sustainability and financial literacy among regulators and stock exchanges are lacking. The academia, through education, can help to create programs, training, or exposure to educate these stakeholders about the sustainable finance transition.

There is a common agreement to devise current curriculums, create working groups in the academe, and outsource practitioners, as education is believed to be one of the ways to contribute to the sustainable stock exchange initiative effectively.

Speakers of the Session were:

  • Mohammed Omran, Professor of Finance, Graduate School of Business, Arab Academy for Science and Technology
  • Dawid Bastiat-Jarosz, Graduate Institute, Swissox
  • Jie Cao Professor of Finance, Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Jingdong Hua, Vice-Chair of The International Sustainability Standards Board, International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation
  • Patrick Bolton, Professor of Business, Columbia Business School
  • Rajna Gibson Brandon, Professor of Finance, University of Geneva
  • Tiffany Grabski Head, SSE Academy, UN SSE
  • Lloyd Kurtz Senior, Portfolio Manager, Wells Fargo Wealth and Investment Management
  • Vanina Farber, Professor of Social Innovation and Dean, IMD EMBA Programme
  • Caroline Flammer, Professor of International and Public Affairs and Climate, Columbia University
(Reporting by Hannah Gabrielle Tejoso, Rapporteur Volunteer for World Investment Forum, CUTS International)
GST - Investment, Trade and Enterprise in the Circular Economy
(Date: October 18, 2023 Time: 11:00-11:45)

This session delved into the pivotal role of the circular economy in addressing contemporary global challenges, specifically climate change and biodiversity loss. At its core, a circular economy emphasises reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling. This sustainable model offers immense potential for business diversity. The session illuminated the challenges faced by businesses in adopting this model, shared best practices, showcased real-world industry applications, and discussed the government's potential role.

Session Highlights
For a circular economy to be successful, there is a need to first scrutinise and reorient our current unsustainable production and consumption patterns. There is a notable disparity in how businesses and policymakers perceive innovation, and bridging this gap through consultations is imperative for the growth of the circular economy.

The circular economy is more than just a buzzword; it represents a tangible global transition. By managing resources efficiently, profound changes can be achieved. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play an indispensable role in driving this transition. Recognising their significance, the first meeting at COP28 will be dedicated to SMEs.

Emirates Environment Group (EEG) emphasised the transformative role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in reshaping human behaviours. Through collaborations with governmental and private sectors, NGOs are fostering sustainable development. EEG reviews business plans, strategies, and technological approaches, with an overarching aim of investing in research and development. Notably, EEG underscores the integral role of youth, especially when merging the concepts of the circular economy with digitalisation.

‘Cool Plastic,’ an Ethiopian enterprise, highlighted the importance of collaborations across sectors, particularly when managing waste.

A decade ago, innovation was largely associated with tech-heavy large corporations. However, there is a growing acknowledgement of the inherent innovative spirit of SMEs.

Effective government policies, like bans on single-use plastics, can spur innovations such as biodegradable plastics. Governments should also incentivise those championing the circular economy.

Moreover, a standardised system to gauge the efficiency of sustainable practices was deemed necessary by the attendees. Deep Tech and AI: While Deep Tech and AI have their carbon footprint, there is potential in harnessing these technologies for the circular economy. One company in Uganda exemplified innovation by transforming spoiling milk into lactic acid, which was then used to create mosquito repellent.

  • Reprocess generated waste
  • Design a value chain where waste is non-existent
Two primary issues deter investments in these sectors. There is a misplaced notion that innovation is exclusive to developed nations and consumption habits and a shift in these habits is paramount for the success of the circular economy.

Banks often overlook the importance of SMEs, leading to constrained financing. Emphasis was laid on the need for banks to invest in the root economy and enhance their understanding of SMEs.

Speakers in the Session were:
  • Joyeeta Das, Chief Executive Officer, Samudra Oceans
  • Arab Hoballah, Executive Director, Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development
  • Thomas G Tsao, Co-founder, Gobi Partners
  • Kanika Sahijwani, Founder and Creative Director, Pusaaka
  • Jovia Kisakye, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Sparkle Agro
  • Selamawit Tomas, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Cool Plastic
  • Habiba Al Mar’ashi, Co-Founder and Chairperson, Emirates Environmental Group
  • Escipion Joanquin Oliveira Gomez, Director, Division of Enterprises Competitiveness and Institutions International Trade Centre
  • Sanya Rajpal, CEO, Adagio VR
(Reporting by Nahom Kiflemariam Abraham, Rapporteur Volunteer for World Investment Forum, CUTS International)
International Sustainable Finance Regulation Conference: Raising the Bar: Sustainable Finance Regulations for a Changing World
In partnership with the UN-backed Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI)
(Date: October 18, 2023 Time: 13:30-15:30)

Following the development of the UN SDGs, capital markets as well as governments have become more aware of the need for sustainable finance. This session looked at the experiences of regulators in implementing sustainability standards for companies, specifically the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB). The panel included regulators from both developed and developing economies and all speakers weighed in on the current state of their countries’ compliance with the ISSB, as well as the challenges in transitioning companies to sustainable finance.

Session Highlights
Governments in both developed and developing countries have begun adopting sustainability standards. The panel discussed various ways through which they are implementing ISSB among companies. In this respect, emerging markets have started aligning their guidelines to ISSB and are slowly transitioning to a mandatory approach from a voluntary approach. These markets face the challenge of companies’ preparedness in complying with these standards as they would need assistance and training from regulators on creating sustainability reports. Some countries are approaching the transition in phases wherein they are slowly introducing and creating an environment where ISSB can eventually become normative.

The panel also acknowledges the need for policymakers to craft and improve legal frameworks that will encourage and require companies to comply with ISSB. On the other hand, the panel also reiterates that public policy alone is not enough and that market forces are also needed in transitioning to sustainable finance. In light of the UN SDGs becoming more significant to investors, the panel raises the importance of investors demanding sustainability reports. This incentivises companies even more to comply with sustainability disclosures.

The partnership of public policy and market force in ushering in sustainable finance through ISSB sustainability reports is seen by the panellists as more crucial now than ever.

On the Panel were:

  • H.E. Lucie Berger, Ambassador of the European Union to the United Arabic Emirates
  • Emmanuel Givanakis, Chief Executive Officer, Financial Services Registration Authority, Abu Dhabi Global Market
  • Jose Carlos Doherty, Chief Executive Officer, Brazilian Financial and Capital Markets Association, Brazil
  • McJill Bryant Fernandez, Commissioner, Securities and Exchange Commission Philippines
  • Diego Lopez, Chief Executive Officer, Global SWF
  • Jingdong Hua, Vice-Chair of the International Sustainability Standards Board, International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation
  • Sabine Döbeli, Chief Executive Officer, Swiss Sustainable Finance
  • Carmen Wee, Chief Executive Officer, Investment Management Association of Singapore
  • Christian Guckel, Chief Risk Officer, SEDCO Capital
  • Margarita Pirovska, Director of Policy, PRI
  • Sean Kidney, Chief Executive Officer, Climate Bonds Initiative
(Reporting by Naomi Abarrondo, Rapporteur Volunteer for World Investment Forum, CUTS International)
Investing in Health
(Date: October 18, 2023 Time: 14:00-16:00)

The UNCTAD World Investment Forum recently convened a session spotlighting the significant investment gaps in achieving the sustainable development goal of ‘Good Health and Well-Being’ (SDG 3) in developing countries. Drawing insights from UNCTAD's 2021 World Investment Report, this session highlighted the potential of international private sector investment in bridging the existing US$100bn annual shortfall. Key stakeholders, including policymakers, multilateral representatives, and private sector luminaries, discussed investment priorities, the role of diverse sectors in guiding sustainable health investments, and the current global opportunities and challenges for health investors.

Session Highlights
The conference centred on the challenges and opportunities present in global healthcare investments. A primary concern raised was the urgent need for US$100bn annually for healthcare facilities and infrastructure. While domestic investors seem to be playing a limited role, there is a notable potential for international investment. This need is particularly pronounced in developing regions, with Africa standing out due to its unique healthcare challenges and significant growth potential.

An insight that sheds light on the progression and current status of universal health goals is that there is a strong emphasis on the imperative nature of equitable vaccine distribution, as well as the establishment of an international treaty for pandemic response. The current evaluation of the trajectory illuminated concerns about meeting the set 2030 agenda, especially with setbacks resulting from policy limitations.

The session drew stark contrasts between different regions and their healthcare investment behaviours. The US, for instance, despite its vast capital reserves, has not mirrored this wealth in its public healthcare investments. On the other end of the spectrum are the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), which grapple with numerous challenges. From significant underfunding to a pressing shortage of healthcare professionals, these nations face a steep uphill climb to achieve global health standards.

Regulations in the healthcare sector were highlighted as a vital area requiring strengthening. The effectiveness and robustness of regulatory frameworks are crucial in fostering trust, attracting investments, and ensuring that health interventions meet the highest standards. Collaborative efforts were a recurring theme throughout the session. From technology transfers and interagency cooperation to the deeper integration of the private sector into broader health strategies, the need for cohesive multi-sectorial efforts was evident.

The global economic landscape, significantly altered by the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, served as a backdrop to the discussions. The pandemic has emphasised the need for healthcare systems to be resilient. These systems need a foundation built on political commitment, proactive risk management, and strategies geared towards equity. The pandemic's economic impact, which resulted in trillions of dollars in losses, underscored the urgency of these requirements.

The dialogues converged on a shared vision and perspective. The healthcare challenges faced globally demand a robust, well-strategised, collective effort. Pooling resources, knowledge, and expertise from various sectors is pivotal to elevating global health standards. As the world looks to the future, the roadmap to positive, lasting healthcare outcomes requires collaboration, commitment, and strategic foresight.

Speakers in the Session were:

  • Pedro Manuel Moreno, Deputy Secretary-General, UNCTAD
  • Ahmed Alkhazraji, Executive Director, Strategy & Policy, Abu Dhabi, Department of Health
  • Ghada Abuzaid, Principal Industrial Programme Coordinator, Continental Pharmaceutical Programme, African Development Bank
  • Nadeem Aldiaij, Co-Founder, Baraka Impact Finance LLC
  • Rana Hajjeh, Director of Programme Management, World Health Organisation
  • Vanessa Huang,  General Partner, BVCF Management and Member, WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All
  • Matthews Mmopi, Partner, Johannesburg, McKinsey & Company
  • Tesfachew Taffere, Acting Managing Director, UN Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries
  • Orhan Osmansoy, Managing Partner, TVM Capital Healthcare
  •  Sharanjit Leyl, International Broadcaster
(Reporting by Nahom Kiflemariam Abraham, Rapporteur Volunteer for World Investment Forum, CUTS International)
Investing in Agrifood Systems Forum: Forging the Path - Unveiling the Private Sector’s Agrifood Investment Journey
In partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN
(Date: October 18, 2023 Time: 14:30-17:30)

This session was conducted to understand the investment challenges and opportunities in the agri-food sector and the importance of private investment for achieving the goals of food security. The session aims to explore the critical role of the private sector in this industry and to understand the areas to indulge the private sector.

Session Highlights
The panel highlighted the current challenges in achieving the food security goals. The current environment for agrifood systems and food security can be summarised in 4 ACT which are:

4A – Availability, Accessibility, Affordability and Adequacy
4C – Climate, Conflicts, Calamity, Consumer Culture
4T – Technology, Trade, Tapping Local Resources, Trends

The 4As highlight the food security goals while the 4 Cs highlight the challenges in food security which can be addressed through methods in the 4Ts.

The private sector can play a major role through investment in 4Ts which can help in achieving food security goals.

There are three areas where the focus of the private sector is needed:

  1. Lack of scale: The UAE market is not large enough to attract investments and achieve economies of scale. Hence, there is a need to look at other markets as well including the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Middle East
  2. Investment in innovation: Innovators need to leverage the technology to leapfrog ahead in the agri-food sector instead of playing catch-up role
  3. Integration with operations: Innovation should be seamlessly integrated with existing operations for mass-scale
There is a need for diversification of products as well as disruption in go-to-market strategies for companies in this sector shifting from sales model to digital adoption.

There have been numerous examples of private sector players who have disrupted the existing environment and brought transparency to the process of food delivery. Private sector players are adopting indigenous technology, such as bio-gas plants for their energy utilisation which is helping in reducing the costs of their products.

The private sector has engaged substantially in the secondary market of agri-foods, such as distribution, marketing and sales. However, significant investment needs to be made in community, quality of production and reducing wastage. For this, the private sector needs to focus on long-term investments to provide access to farmers' critical farming technology, irrigation techniques and fertilisers to maximise output rather than focusing on short-term profits.

To mitigate risks in the investment in the agri-food sector, there has to be a drive to create a better understanding of the environment, the ability to deploy large capital and easy mobilisation of resources.

The government has to frame policies facilitating investment in the food sector to attract private investments and enhance private sector participation through the PPP model. There are various examples where the government has engaged with the private sector for food security, such as an initiative in Kezad where the UAE government created an infrastructure with a private entity to have a consolidated place for all agriproducts including fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry and dates.

The government should also focus on increasing trade partnerships with agriculture-based economies as no country is self-sufficient for its food requirements.

The public and private sectors can derive learnings from various developed markets on how they operate towards their food security targets.

Speakers of the Session were:
  • Abdulhakim Elwaer, FAO Assistant Director General, Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa
  • Mohammed Al-Yami, Director of the Development Effectiveness Office, Islamic Cooperation for the Development of the Private Sector
  • Suresh Vaidyanathan, CEO of Special Projects, Ghassan Aboud Group
  • Layth Al-Dweikat, Agricultural Entrepreneur, Rawabi Farah
  • Fadi Falah Jabr, Secretary General, Arab Federation for Food Industry
  • Sheikh Majid Al Qassimi, Founding Partner, Soma Mater
  • Kayan Jaff, Senior Partnerships Officer, FAO – Near East and North Africa
(Reporting by Palash Jain, Rapporteur Volunteer for World Investment Forum, CUTS International)
Energy Transition and Investment Policy in Asia and the Pacific
(Date: October 18, 2023 Time: 14:00-15:30)

What happens in Asia happens to the world.  The Asia and Pacific (APAC) region faces a two-faceted problem: high vulnerability to the repercussions of climate change and slow development toward energy transition. The implications of these problems vary across Asian countries. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is promoting a big push for programmatic and replicable approaches toward energy transition. However, Asia’s diversity makes solutions challenging to apply. This session is organised by the ADB.

Session Highlights
The energy transition in Asia has two sides: scaling up renewables and tackling the coal problem. As coal is one of the biggest drivers of economic growth in many Asian countries, there is a need to also think of new economic areas where this transition should occur. It was suggested that countries set specific funds to retire coal power stations. Though some countries are progressive in this, mechanisms are still difficult to implement in countries that cannot afford them.

Energy is not merely an element of the transition but also sustainability. The developing countries represented in the panel (i.e., Indonesia and Malaysia) shared their governments’ efforts in including sustainability in the economic agenda, as the energy transition is also socioeconomic. Developing countries are also proactive in bringing ESG into the economic agenda to further attract investments. On the other hand, India’s large-scale ambitions toward the transition are also applaudable as they continue increasing their gigawatt capacity on renewables yearly. However, challenges such as access to equipment, capacity building, and slow green infrastructure development impede the achievement of their energy goals.

The market system was also argued to be an initiator of sustainability because it can create new markets for people to choose energy-transition practices. One of the fresh ideas laid by the panel is utilising nature-based solutions in the transition – focusing on forestry. It was also suggested to maximise technology in these nature-based solutions. Though costly for now, the return is projected to be cheaper in the future.

In the just transition agenda, three factors must be considered to facilitate development: redistribution of government budgets on renewables, increasing social protection, and human capital development. However, we observe that the transition is failing to be fair and inclusive, and just because low-income countries are often forced to pay more. Therefore, we need a collaborative response between governments, private sectors, and civil society in reframing energy and finance policies that are investor-friendly, affordable, and expandable, especially in the Asia-Pacific.


  • Paul M Vaaler, John and Bruce Mooty Chair in Law & Business, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities - Law School and Carlson School of Management
On the panel were:
  • Diala Hawila, Programme Officer, International Renewable Energy Agency
  • Kate Hughes, Principal, Climate Change Specialist, Climate Change Department, and Sustainable Development Department, Asian Development Bank
  • Nikunj Khaturia, Senior Vice President, Corporate Finance, Renew
  • Natalia Rialucky Marsudi, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, FarAtmos
  • Jeyasigan P Narayanan Nair, Executive Director (Strategic Planning), Malaysian Investment Development Authority
  • Paul M Vaaler, John and Bruce Mooty Chair in Law & Business, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities - Law School and Carlson School of Management
  • Rolando Avendano, Economist, Economic Research and Development, Impact Department, ADB
(Reporting by Hannah Gabrielle Tejoso, Rapporteur Volunteer for World Investment Forum, CUTS International)
High-Level Investment Agreements Conference 2023
(Date: October 18, 2023 Time: 15:30-18:30)

The session primarily revolved around the critical topic of amending investment agreements to align with the dynamic landscape of prevailing climate changes and the imperatives of sustainable development.
During the session, in-depth discussions took place regarding the need for proactive changes in investment agreements to address the challenges posed by climate change. Participants emphasised the importance of updating these agreements to incorporate measures that mitigate and adopt environmental impacts and promote sustainability.
Session Highlights
In a world grappling with a multitude of crises, including food scarcity, escalating climate change, and economic instabilities marked by high interest rates and inflation, the landscape for investments has become increasingly challenging. The absence of clear trade rules further complicates matters. Within this complex economic framework, the financial sector represents the upstream, while investments from the downstream. Central to this dynamic are the Special Economic Zones, acting as pivotal hubs for economic activity.
A significant trend in recent times is the rapid growth of sustainability financing on the upstream side. This sector has witnessed an extraordinary fivefold increase, emphasising the growing importance of sustainable investments. The focal point of discussions revolves around the critical task of making markets sustainable.
The international community currently grapples with the pressing need for a clearer understanding of the measures required to address investment pressures within the sphere of climate action. This encompasses both climate mitigation and adaptation. Four key aspects are instrumental in approaching climate-related challenges without compromising initiatives for positive climate action.
Investment has emerged as an integral component in this endeavour. Coordinated efforts are paramount as climate change transcends geographical boundaries, making global cooperation imperative. Identifying and implementing effective reforms in investments, with a climate-friendly focus, stands as a paramount goal.
Within this pursuit, two fundamental ideas come to the forefront. Firstly, there is a need to deliberate on the format and scope of reforms. The session must address climate change while also considering other pertinent factors. Investors must perceive fair and equitable treatment as a fundamental requirement, complementing the broader objective of addressing climate change. Sustainable development stands as an equally vital goal. Consequently, reforms must be structured in a manner that aligns with climate-friendly investments.
Columbia currently stands as a testament to the importance of international investment agreements, boasting a total of 19. In 2017, they reached a significant milestone with the Model VIP. This milestone reflects their adaptability to evolving trends, particularly in the context of multinational and regional discussions. Central to their approach is the environmental issues, as they seek to enhance their investment attraction policy. This includes incentives and programmes aimed at shaping the future of international investment agreements. Additionally, a reinforcement of clauses concerning environmental issues is anticipated.
Egypt stands as an active participant in sustainable development, offering incentives to investors who champion social benefits. Remarkably, Egypt ranks among the top 10 countries leading in energy transition, showcasing a strong commitment to sustainable energy practices. Nigeria, too, confronts environmental challenges, with efforts underway to adopt investment policies in line with sustainable development goals. A concerted push to eliminate gas flaring is a testament to Nigeria's dedication to environmental sustainability.
Saudi Arabia, recognising the significance of coherent policy-making, is actively engaged in capacity building. The aim is to encourage responsible and sustainable investment practices. An exclusive forum has been established to facilitate discussions on reforms and shape future investment policies. Rigorous research, analysis, and guidance play a pivotal role in this endeavour. Saudi Arabia is resolutely supportive of this progressive agenda.
A holistic approach is crucial, ensuring that updates to treaties consider both positive and negative impacts. Major projects are now increasingly focussed on renewable energy, promoting green investments. The reform of International Investment Agreements (IIAs) is a complex and challenging task that necessitates support from developed nations.
In Japan, significant strides have been made in reforming IIAs since 2009. The Caribbean Community stands as one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change. Their measures include the imposition of customs duties on energy-efficient projects. They recognise the importance of aligning investment treaties with climate adaptation imperatives.
Effective IIAs should be regulated in the public interest, safeguarding, promoting, integrating, and implementing measures for the benefit of all parties involved. Officials are keenly aware of state commitments, which must be factored in while drafting these treaties.
The crux of the challenge lies in the existing agreements. Reform is imperative, requiring collective efforts to revamp and adapt investment agreements to meet the needs of the present. Mutual benefits for all parties must be reflected in these agreements. Future IIAs should facilitate impact-driven discussions, incorporating all relevant stakeholders, particularly in the LDCs. Practicality and adaptability to prevailing trends are crucial considerations.
In conclusion, the imperative for sustainable development and climate change mitigation is both urgent and undeniable. The complexities of modern global finance necessitate comprehensive reforms in investment agreements, particularly in the context of climate action. The experiences of countries like Columbia, Egypt, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia serve as valuable case studies, highlighting the critical importance of aligning investment policies with sustainability goals.
As the world collectively grapples with the challenges of climate change and economic stability, global leaders must come together to forge a path towards a more sustainable and resilient future. Through coordinated efforts, impactful reforms, and a steadfast commitment to the principles of sustainable development, we can navigate the complexities of the modern economic landscape, ensuring a prosperous and sustainable future for generations to come.
Speakers of the Session were:

  • James X. Zhan, Director, Division on Investment and Enterprise, UNCTAD and Lead, UNCTAD World Investment Forum
  • Philip Fox-Drummond Gough, Director of the Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Trade in Services, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Federative Republic of Brazil
  • Maria Paula Arenas Quijano, Director of Foreign Investment and Services, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Republic of Colombia
  • Hossam Heiba, President, General Authority for Investment and Free Zones, Arab Republic of Egypt
  • Riyatno, Deputy Minister for Investment Cooperation, Republic of Indonesia
  • Eun Young Nam, Deputy Director, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Republic of Korea
  • Aminata          Traore Cissé, Permanent Secretary, Higher Council for the Private Sector, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Republic of Mali
  • Angela Pretorius, Deputy Director, Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade, Republic of Namibia
  • Patience Okala, Director, Legal Services, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission
  • Abdullah Alomair, Executive Director, International Partnership, Ministry of Investment, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Juma Al Kait, Assistant Undersecretary for International Trade, Ministry of Economy, United Arab Emirates
  • Emily Mburu-Ndoria, Director, Directorate of Trade in Services, Investment, Intellectual Property Rights and Digital Trade, African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat
  • Tai Hiong Tan, Head of Services and Investment Division, ASEAN Secretariat
  • Chantal Ononaiwu, Director, External Trade, Caribbean Community and Common Market Secretariat
  • Lorenzo Cotula, Head of Law, Economies and Justice Programme, International Institute for Environment and Development
  • Mohammad Usman Piracha, Chairperson, ISDS Reform Negotiations
  • N Jansen Calamita, Head of Investment Law and Policy, Centre for International Law and Research Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore
  • Ana Novik, Head of the Investment Division, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Juri Suehrer, Director, Trade and Investment, PwC Middle East
  • Jae Sung Lee, Senior Legal Officer, UNCITRAL Secretariat, Secretary of Working Group III, International Trade Law Division, Office of Legal Affairs, United Nations
  • Hamed El Kady, Senior Coordinator, International Investment Agreements Section, UNCTAD
  • Makane Moïse Mbengue, Professor of International Law, Director of the Department of International Law and International Organisation, University of Geneva
(Reporting by Ramsha Sajid, Rapporteur Volunteer for World Investment Forum, CUTS International)
Programme at a Glance
To Register