CUTS Daily Bulletin #5 | October 20, 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
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Investment in Agri-food Systems Forum: Investing in Mitigating Food Loss and Waste
Organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN
(Date: October 20, 2023 Time: 09:00-10:30)

The session delved into the pressing issue of Food Loss and Waste (FLW), emphasising its detrimental effects on the economy, food security, nutrition, and the environment. Highlighting recent data, the session noted that 14 per cent of food gets lost in the supply chain, while 17 per cent is wasted at the retail level, collectively accounting for 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The primary challenges discussed were the prevailing lack of awareness and the absence of a compelling 'business case' for investment in FLW mitigation.

Notably, the session underscored the value of investments in rural market upgrades, including enhanced cold storage, climate-smart processing, and advanced handling technologies. Additionally, the importance of a holistic and integrated approach, aligned with sustainable food system objectives, was underscored as pivotal for effective FLW reduction.

Session Highlights
The discussions spanned from harvest to processing and packaging and highlighted the imperative of addressing FLW at various stages of the food value chain. The Food Loss Index (FLI) was recorded at 13.2 per cent, while the Food Waste Index (FWI) stood at 17 per cent for retail consumption. There were notable regional disparities. Sub-Saharan Africa reported the highest loss at 20 per cent, while North America and Europe had the lowest at 9.2 per cent. Several primary causes were identified, including inappropriate production and harvesting techniques, poor scheduling, inadequate equipment, and infrastructure challenges.

Systemic causes underscored that the environment was not always conducive to efficient agricultural systems. Food loss and waste have a substantial economic footprint, with a reported US$400bn value of food lost between harvest and consumption. This issue also has significant environmental consequences. It accounts for 8-10 per cent of global GHG emissions and uses up 250 cubic km of water for the production of food that is eventually wasted. Addressing FLW directly impacts SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production). This, in turn, promotes zero hunger, improved productivity and economic growth, and a reduction in natural resource use and GHG emissions.

Speakers highlighted the need to assess and address consumer behaviour. The Emirates Foundation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, launched Ne’ma, an initiative to tackle food loss and waste. As a result of this initiative, there was a 44 per cent decrease in food loss and waste. There was a clear call for investing in technology and startups that can redirect food and mitigate waste.

Several countries, particularly those classified as 'least developed,' faced challenges like lack of mechanisation and reliance on suboptimal practices like sun drying.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was mentioned as a key player with a priority in agriculture. Almost 70 per cent of countries have prepared national food loss pathways, highlighting the importance of regional collaboration.

The session highlighted the magnitude of the challenge posed by food loss and waste but also showcased the multitude of strategies and solutions available. There is an urgent need for strengthened governance mechanisms, investments in technology, infrastructure, and capacity building and enhanced collaboration both nationally and regionally. Future efforts should aim to bridge the gaps identified in the session, leveraging technology, policy initiatives, and collaboration to drive the transformation of agri-food systems.

On the Panel were:

  • Tony Roberto Nsanganira, Strategic Adviser, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
  • Komla Prosper Bissi, Senior Adviser on Agriculture Trade and Agriculture Value Chains Development, AfCFTA
  • Federica Irene Falomi, Economic Affairs Officer, United Nations Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries
  • Khuloud Hasan Al Nowais, Chief Sustainability Officer, Emirates Foundation
  • Divine Nganje Njie, Deputy Director, Food Systems and Food Safety Division, FAO of the UN
  • Ahmad Mukhtar, Senior Economist, Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa
(Reporting by Nahom Kiflemariam Abraham)
Getting Blended Finance Right at Scale
In partnership with The Blended Capital Group
(Date: October 20, 2023 Time: 9:30-10:30)

For the global finance system to speed the delivery of the UN SDGs and dramatically scale up climate capital flows to least-developed and middle-income economies, blended finance will be a key tool in the 21st century. This session explores leveraging private finance through blended financial instruments, mechanisms, and risk-sharing facilities beyond individual transactions. There are significant opportunities to open the flow of blended finance to support communities to build sustainable futures through community infrastructure such as pay-as-you-go distributed and decentralised infrastructure for energy, sanitation, and resilience.  Localising blended finance requires a focus on standardised contracts, venture philanthropy, innovative corporate venture and institutional investor partnerships, and broad-based sustainable finance competencies.

Session Highlights
During the panel discussion, several key points were highlighted, shedding light on critical aspects of infrastructure investment and development. One recurring theme was the significance of language in this field, highlighting the need for clear and effective communication among all stakeholders. Additionally, the stock market emerged as a critical factor in shaping infrastructure projects, influencing investment decisions and market dynamics.
It was noted that policymakers play a pivotal role in infrastructure development, and there was a call for their education and understanding of the complex interplay between government, banks, construction firms, and infrastructure investors. Furthermore, the discussion stressed the flexibility and adaptability inherent in infrastructure projects, suggesting that there are various approaches to infrastructure development. In a collaborative ecosystem involving these four parties - government, banks, construction companies, and infrastructure investors - governments were encouraged to view infrastructure as an attractive opportunity for private investors, reinforcing the notion that infrastructure projects can serve as robust investment options for the public and private sectors alike.
A speaker spoke about several key points regarding blended finance and governance that were brought to the forefront. The first notable point addressed the financial commitment that governance entities are willing to make towards blended finance, which was estimated to be in the range of $3-5bn. This commitment underscores the importance and potential impact of blended finance in addressing global challenges.
Another crucial aspect discussed was the mechanisms for blending, with an emphasis on utilising local and domestic banks as vital intermediaries. Speakers highlighted the significance of involving these institutions in the process to ensure a more efficient and responsive approach to blended finance. However, it was also noted that there seemed to be a lack of engagement from local actors in the blending process. This raises the question of how to foster greater participation and collaboration from local stakeholders to maximise the effectiveness and impact of blended finance initiatives.
Speakers shed light on critical considerations for improving the effectiveness of blended finance. One key point raised was the need to address the challenges arising from limited public Official Development Assistance (ODA) resources, which can pose a significant constraint on blended finance initiatives. Additionally, the discussion emphasised the importance of incorporating industrial policy into the blended finance framework, recognising the role that well-crafted policies play in driving sustainable development.
Another issue brought to the forefront was the scarcity of resources compared to the magnitude of the global challenges at hand, underscoring the scale of the challenge for blended finance. Panellists also stressed the paramount role of trust in the blended finance ecosystem, as it is crucial for fostering collaboration and attracting investors. Lastly, there was a consensus on the need for standardised and systematic structures to guide and showcase blended finance projects, ensuring transparency, accountability, and clarity in the process. These points collectively highlight the multifaceted nature of the blended finance landscape and the complexities that must be addressed to optimise its impact.
The panel discussion underscored that the challenges in blended finance are primarily rooted in issues of control rather than technical obstacles. One salient issue that emerged was the absence of strong policy frameworks and regulatory measures, highlighting the need for more comprehensive policy acts to govern the blended finance landscape. Furthermore, the panellists emphasised that standardisation, particularly concerning asset allocation, is a critical component in making blended finance more efficient and accessible. However, there was a consensus that there is a lack of scalable Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria, which are essential for evaluating and tracking the impact of blended finance projects.

Another notable observation was the disconnect among financial sectors, with not all of them prioritising development as an important objective. This highlights the need for a collective commitment to integrating development goals into financial sector activities. In summary, the discussion illuminated the importance of addressing control-related issues, strengthening policy frameworks, enhancing standardisation, and promoting the adoption of scalable ESG criteria to foster a more effective and impactful blended finance ecosystem.
Speakers of the Session were:

  • Rina Neoh, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Ficus Venture Capital
  • Gordon Noble, Research Director, Business, Economy and Governance, Institute for Sustainable Futures
  • Vanina Farber, elea Professor of Social Innovation and Dean, IMD EMBA Programme
  • Bertrand Badre, Managing Partner and Founder, Blue like an Orange Sustainable Capital
  • Oshani Perera, Co-founder and Director of Programmes, Shamba Centre for Food & Climate
  • Daniel Gribbin, Director ESG Advisory, Deloitte
  • Paul Clementshunt, Director, Mishcon de Reya LLP, Mishcon Purpose
The Investment, Trade and Development Nexus
(Date: October 20, 2023 Time: 9:30-11:00)

The theme of the 8th WIF repeatedly affirmed how trade and investment are crucial in facilitating growth, especially in developing economies. Reforms in the development agenda began to bolster industrial policies that make markets competitive and attractive for investment and contribute to the global value chain altogether. However, dynamism is observed with trade and investment trends, which makes it challenging for policymakers to design policies in local contexts. This session focused on ways to reinforce growth strategies that are robust against fluctuations in the trade and investment nexus.
Session Highlights
UNCTAD revealed that 80 per cent of global trade is in international production networks initiated by multinational enterprises. Over the past decade, countries grew from 20 per cent in 1990 to 40 per cent in participation in the global value chain. However, many countries are still struggling to export resources. This posed sustainability concerns, as the environmental considerations are already part of investment decisions.
The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade shared that trade has become the foundation of their national economy since its founding. In 2022, UAE’s foreign trade value increased by 70 per cent and non-oil foreign trade by 14.4 per cent from the previous year. The country envisions becoming a key hub of trade routes, and this entailed them curating business systems that encourage investment and liberalising their trade environment at par with global standards set by the WTO. The UAE is also an active investor in other countries globally, enhancing trade flows within and outside the country.
From a developing country perspective, Botswana affirmed its commitment to trade as its growth engine by being a signatory and member of regional and international trade agreements, free trade areas, unions, and the WTO. The AfCFTA is considered a significant milestone for the continent, and its implementation would allow opportunities for businesses to expand. Likewise, this will bolster African countries’ participation in regional and global value chains. Botswana, as one of its stakeholders, is committed to encouraging private sector participation in several industry areas like manufacturing, infrastructure, and energy to increase investment that results in job creation, increased productivity and sustainable economic growth.
Portugal infused the idea of another nexus – economic growth, social development and sustainability. These were argued to be a shared global and national agenda in principle (i.e., SDGs, Green Deal, etc.), and states have varying timelines to get there. Likewise, the role of the private sector as a critical player in this nexus was underscored. Portugal actively includes ESG standards for exporting Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in their national strategies to drive investment flow. They are partnering with the private sector to ensure these standards will be compatible with local contexts.
From a global bank’s perspective, polycrises are impacting changes in supply chains that lead to the reduction of FDI, flow in services, and impact in technologies. Therefore, there is a need for not just SMEs but also entrepreneurs, women, and other minorities to be integrated into the value chain to reverse disrupted trade flows. Financial institutions face challenges, such as endless capital required, unstandardised and inconsistent KPIs, and the decentralisation of world order. Implications of these could be solved around partnerships, where multinational development banks (MDBs), development finance institutions (DFIs), and other multinational agencies undergo reforms to increase their engagement in private capital for investments.
Another partnership could be between public and private sector data sharing that could improve decision-making. Lastly, technology infusion is equally important in fortifying systems as we welcome more investment.
The investment gap towards developing countries was also tackled, and supporting financial sectors is one of the ways to minimise the gap. As supply chain evolution is underway, how the financial sector would support trade flows is critical. Emerging markets require significant investment flow and, thus, need more regulation. The financial sector also plays a big role in bringing the public and private sectors together.
There has been a seven per cent decrease in FDI for the past five years. This does not reflect a decrease in globalisation but rather a different aspect of it. The panel argued that we are still complexly interdependent, as seen in the concentration of trade in goods in all regions. Therefore, this new wave of globalisation could benefit more countries as trade opportunities open. New trends are the regionalisation of global value chains and the potential for unbundling of services; these are worthy to study and build on.
The WTO is the main global body that sets trade policies in place. The ‘golden years’ of the organisation are said to be ending due to the growing complexities of international trade. Production began shifting to different places, resulting in a five-seven per cent GDP loss (12 per cent GDP loss in developing countries) for the past five years. This increases trade finance gaps, which make it difficult for SMEs and MSMEs to get credit and trade. Therefore, trade policies will still matter, and multilateralism has to be fortified. The WTO and UNCTAD have joint programmes to revive global trade. There is significant progress during ministerial meetings, but many negotiations must still occur.
Economic fragmentation trends are concerning. Four challenges were brought up, namely the rise of protectionism in trade, various digital frameworks applied, new payment systems that impact cross-border transactions, and lack of coordination with debts. With all these mentioned, there is a need to rethink national and global trade policies to reverse the fragmentation or minimise its effect on countries, especially developing economies.

  • Pedro Manuel Moreno, Deputy Secretary-General, UNCTAD
On the Panel were:
  • Pedro Manuel Moreno, Deputy Secretary-General, UNCTAD
  • H.E. Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, United Arab Emirates
  • Bernardo Ivo Cruz, Secretary of State for International Trade and Foreign Investment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Portugal
  • Ebru Pakcan, Citi Regional Chief Executive Office for Middle East & Africa Region, Citigroup
  • Zoe Knight, Group Head, HSBC Centre of Sustainable Finance and Head of Climate Change, MENAT
  • Yassir Zouaoui, Partner, Dubai, Mckinsey & Company
  • Yuvan A Beejadhur, Senior Adviser, WTO
  • Mélanie Laloum, Lead Economist, International Chamber of Commerce
  • Mmusi Kgafela, Minister for Investment, Trade and Industry, Botswana
(Reporting by Hannah Gabrielle Tejoso)
Investment Facilitation: How Digital Government Tools Can Accelerate Implementation
(Date: October 20, 2023 Time: 10:00-12:00)

Digital business environments are not only now expected by businesses but also boost investment, create jobs, enable countries to meet their investment facilitation commitments and improve ratings in the World Bank’s upcoming Business Ready indicators. This session deliberated on various examples from around the globe of the digitalisation of businesses brought about by the government.
Session Highlights
The session touched on various aspects of digitalisation, business facilitation, and data privacy in different countries and contexts, but more detailed information is needed for a comprehensive understanding of these topics. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) through its Investment Facilitation Programme, aims to help civil servants use digital tools for efficient administration.
The Government of Mali is modernising its administration, and it has tools for facilitating business operations, particularly in the context of land-locked countries. The complexity of getting medicines into the market in Mali has induced the government to build up an online single-window system thus streamlining the process of importing, exporting, and distributing medicines, with a tracking number to determine their eligibility.
Similarly, Bhutan has implemented a digital single-window system with the help of UNCTAD. This system has improved how investors engage with the government and has reduced bureaucratic steps for starting and running a business.
Digital connectivity is crucial, and the introduction of a national digital identity is mentioned. Data privacy is a significant concern, and efforts have been made to decentralise data and ensure authorised access. Data protection is necessary in the context of policymaking. Data privacy and security are crucial for safeguarding personal and sensitive information.
El Salvador is associated with a system called CuentaMype, which is designed to provide simple accounting solutions for micro and small enterprises. It helps businesses manage their financial activities.
Speakers of the Session were:

  • Bruno Masier, Innovation Secretariat, Lomas de Zamora Municipality, Argentine Republic
  • Akeel Khazal, Prime Minister’s Adviser for Simplification and Automation Procedures, Iraq
  • Jigme Tenzing, Acting Secretary of Govtech, Bhutan
  • Zeinabou Sacko Keita, Secretary-General, National Employers' Council, Mali
  • Carlos Carbajal, Director of Business Development and Head of the Office of the President, El Salvador
  • Iraís Barreto Canales, Head of the Global Economic Intelligence Unit, Mexico
  • Maurice Potcho, Director, One-stop-shop, Investment Promotion Agency, Republic of Togo
  • Tareq Masri, Director, Companies Registry, Ministry of National Economy, Palestine
  • Julien Bornon, Regional Manager for Africa, Business Facilitation Programme, UNCTAD
  • Ian Richards, Economic Affairs Officer, Business Facilitation Section, Division on Investment and Enterprise, UNCTAD
(Reporting by Mihir Shekhar Bhonsale)
Investment in Agri-Food Systems Forum: Investing in Sustainable Value Chain and Agribusiness Development
(Organised by FAO)
(Date: October 20, 2023 Time: 10:30-12:00)

The conference addressed the critical importance of sustainable agri-food value chains and agribusiness development as tools for income and employment generation, access to nutritious diets, community resilience to climate change, and optimised natural resource utilisation. Despite recognising these benefits, challenges such as a lack of incentives, fragmented agribusinesses, limited capacity for value addition, and coordination issues have impeded value chain actors' access to finance and investment opportunities.
Session discussions delved into potential reforms to foster a positive business climate and competitive markets, the most effective incentive mechanisms to boost investments, the deployment of de-risking tools, blended finance, and PPPs, and ways to incorporate agribusinesses, especially SMEs, into policy dialogues.
Session Highlights
The session provided an in-depth exploration of investment opportunities and challenges in agri-food systems, focusing on sustainable value chains and agribusiness development. With contributions from diverse stakeholders, the discussions illuminated a wide array of topics, from local farming challenges in India to private sector engagements in Yemen and Pakistan. The session delved into the intricacies of the agricultural sector, examining the changing dynamics of local farming, the role of innovative partnerships, and the importance of incorporating diverse stakeholders in decision-making processes.
The forum highlighted the challenges of household farming in India, emphasising the need to maintain traditional farming practices while integrating modern solutions. Yemen and Pakistan served as prime examples of how innovative partnerships can drive sustainable development in agriculture.
The private sector's role in promoting sustainable development and infrastructure was underlined, emphasising its potential to ensure sustainable value chains, especially in fragile states like Yemen. The discussions showcased the profound impact of technology in the agricultural sector. High-tech solutions were touted as essential for fostering progressive developments in agriculture. The forum echoed the global call for sustainable resource management, resilience in fragile states, and the proactive involvement of both the private and public sectors in these endeavours.
The contributions of young individuals and marginalised communities were spotlighted, emphasising their indispensable roles in innovation and sustainable growth. The session culminated with speakers emphasising the significance of continued dialogue and collaboration. The collective sentiment underscored the urgency of acting on the topics discussed, especially in the areas of agriculture, sustainable development, and technological advancement.
The ‘Investment in Agri-food Systems Forum’ provided invaluable insights into the vast landscape of agri-food investment. The discussions underscored the pressing need for collaborative efforts, the integration of technology, and the proactive involvement of all stakeholders to drive sustainable growth in the agri-food sector.
On the Panel were:

  • Mohammed Al-Yami, Director of the Development Effectiveness Office, Islamic Cooperation for the Development of the Private Sector
  • Daria Zinoveva, Head of International Legal Department, FGBI Agro-export
  • Suzanne Van Tilburg, Global Head Food & Energy Networks, Rabobank Group
  • Tony Roberto Nsangani, Strategic Adviser, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
  • Adeeb Qasem, Director, Economic Development Initiatives, HSA Group Yemen
  • Fatima Mohamed Ahmed M Rahma, General Director of International Relations, Ministry of Agriculture of Sudan
  • Tomás Vattai, Food Security Specialist Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa
(Reporting by Nahom Kiflemariam Abraham)
Asia Sustainable Finance Roundtable: Engagement for Transition
(With support from SynTao Green Finance and China SIF)
(Date: October 20, 2023 Time: 10:45-13:30)

This session provided an overview of the latest development of sustainable finance in Asia within the context of national and regional climate targets. Topics will include transition finance policies, taxonomy and products, transition pathways for key industries as well and just transition. The session has a special focus on engagement strategy to discuss how investors (especially global investors) can engage with Asian companies on their transition plans efficiently and effectively. The session concluded with a panel discussion on how asset owners, asset management firms and investee companies can enhance communications to tackle common challenges.

Session Highlights
The session highlighted a range of crucial elements in addressing the challenge of reducing carbon emissions by a significant 43 per cent and also about the necessity of collaboration as the most effective pathway toward achieving this ambitious goal. Notably, the discussion emphasised the vital role that private and institutional financing, along with debt equity, plays in supporting sustainable initiatives. It was underscored that a dedicated focus on finance is pivotal to driving progress in carbon reduction.
Speakers called for a transformation of existing systems to pave the way for a sustainable future and stressed the importance of renewable energy, setting a global goal of 1 terawatt. Doubling the energy efficiency goal emerged as another key target while blending capital from private, public, and institutional sources was deemed essential to reach these objectives. The emphasis on scaling clean hydrogen underscored its importance as a clean energy source in the transition.
The discussion acknowledged that, throughout this endeavour, the well-being of communities and livelihoods should remain a top priority. Moreover, the imperative to mobilise and forge partnerships, including collaborations involving influential nations like China and the UAE, was emphasised as essential for the success of green transition initiatives.
During the session, the principles of responsible investment took centre stage, underscoring the growing importance of sustainable finance policy in the mainstream financial landscape. The conversation highlighted a shift toward a results-oriented approach, placing a strong emphasis on the outcomes of sustainable financial endeavours.
Speakers also stressed the significance of establishing a legal framework that encourages investors to actively support the transition to a more sustainable and resilient economy. One of the most pressing topics discussed was the imperative to drive the economic transition towards achieving net-zero emissions. This ambitious goal requires a holistic and coordinated approach, encompassing the entire government machinery. A 'whole of government' approach was deemed essential to address economic externalities, incentivise markets, enable financial regulation that supports sustainability, and align budgeting with the overarching transition objectives.
The insights shared during the panel discussion underscored the need for a comprehensive transformation in financial and regulatory landscapes to ensure that sustainable finance is not only a core part of the mainstream but also a driving force behind a transition to a more sustainable, equitable, and environmentally responsible economy.
Speakers shared a series of promising developments in the realm of climate progress and sustainable investment. Notably, there was a commitment to a substantial reduction in carbon emissions, underlining a strong focus on environmental responsibility. The decision to phase out coal from 2023 is a commendable step toward a cleaner and more sustainable energy landscape. The pledge of US$36bn in green investments signifies a significant commitment to environmental sustainability. Furthermore, there was a strong emphasis on enhancing policies to further accelerate this transition.
The ambitious goal of reaching net-zero emissions, with alignment at or close to 100 per cent by 2040, showcases a commitment to leading the way in the fight against climate change. Speakers also highlighted the intent to reduce the operational carbon footprint by a substantial 26 per cent by 2025, which reflects a proactive approach to minimising environmental impact. In terms of sustainable investment, a key focus was emphasised, highlighting the importance of directing resources towards green initiatives.
Additionally, the panellists discussed their engagement strategy, which encompasses a wide spectrum of ESG themes, including social relations, business ethics, resource and ecosystem preservation, public health, human capital, and climate change. This holistic approach reflects a comprehensive dedication to ESG principles, making a positive impact in multiple dimensions of sustainability.
During the roundtable discussion, a range of crucial topics came to the fore, all centring on the pressing matter of energy transition. The significant increase in electric vehicles (EVs), noted as a rapidly growing trend, points to the need for sustainable and efficient transportation alternatives. Hydrogen, as the fastest-growing segment in the energy landscape, highlights the shift towards cleaner energy sources. The speakers emphasised the need for a serious commitment to transition efforts, particularly in important sectors, such as renewable development. The focus on utilisation rates underscores the importance of optimising existing resources.
Digital transformation was recognised as a pivotal aspect of the transition, reflecting the role of technology in creating more sustainable and efficient systems. The discussion underlined the importance of collaboration in addressing Asia's transitions and utilising data as a critical tool for informed decision-making. These insights collectively underscore the complexity and significance of the energy transition dialogue, highlighting the imperative of shared efforts to drive change in the region and beyond.
Speakers of the Session were:

  • King Au, Executive Director, Financial Services Development Council
  • Noran Bakr, Head of Risk, Sovereign Fund of Egypt
  • Yuebin Yang, Portfolio Manager, General Manager of Value Investment Department, AXA SPDB Asset Managers
  • Clemence Humeau, Head of Sustainability Coordination and Governance, AXA Investment Managers
  • Michelle LEUNG, ESG Analyst, Bloomberg
  • Plato K T Yip, Chairperson, Friends of the Earth
  • Nirnita Talukdar, Regional Coordinator, Asia Pacific, United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative
  • Margarita Pirovska, Director of Policy, Principles for Responsible Investment
  • Gabriel Wilsonotto, Director, Sustainable Investing, Fidelity International
  • Paul Clementshunt, Director, Mishcon de Reya LLP, Mishcon Purpose
  • Ralitza Germanova, Lead, Sustainability Disclosure and Transparency Programme, International Finance Corporation
  • Valerie Kwan, Director, Stewardship and Corporate Engagement, Asia Investor Group on Climate Change
  • Mishal Al Ismail, Head of Compliance & AML, Albilad Capital
  • Benjamin Maccarron, Founder and Managing Director, Asia Research & Engagement
  • Tanya Xu, Lead ESG Analyst, Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management
  • Suhana Dewi Selamat, Executive Director, Head, Governance, Risk & Compliance, Khazanah Nasional Berhad
  • Surabi Menon, Executive Director, Partnerships, COP28
  • Xiaohua Zhang, Director, Beijing Office, ClimateWorks Foundation
  • Chinmay Joshi, Chief Financial Officer, Tiqmo
  • Peiyjan Guo, Chairman, SynTao Green Finance
(Reporting by Rifa Kabeer)
High-Level Roundtable on Investing in Sustainable Development: The Way Forward
(Date: October 20, 2023 Time: 11:30-13:00)

The 8th UNCTAD World Investment Forum featured 8,000 participants, including 1,100 speakers, two royal highnesses, five heads of state, 68 ministers and deputy ministers, and 57 high-level representatives from international organisations and policymakers.
In five days, 157 sessions were held, and 80 organisations co-organised almost half of it. The WIF also had private sector representation – 700 CEOs, executives of multinational companies, family business networks, stock exchanges, etc.
Civil society, academia, non-profit organisation leaders, media, and youth, actively participated and engaged in the forum. Notably, 34 per cent of the participants were women, and 60 per cent were from the global south. This proves that the forum is a conducive environment for a genuine multi-stakeholder panel, reflecting UNCTAD’s commitment to inclusivity and dialogue. This session summarised the key achievements, challenges and solutions to partake by all stakeholders moving forward.
Session Highlights
The forum established that there is truly a fragmentation in the trade and investment environment, as highlighted by the downward trends of FDI and the widening SDG investment gaps. The forum was able to put concrete solutions that leveraged finance systems. Other pressing challenges were also tackled, such as high-risk ratings because of debt stress, an unconducive business environment for investors, and institutional infrastructure shortcomings.
On the other hand, the forum identified areas of investment, such as renewable energy and infrastructure, agriculture and agrisystems, and resilience in biodiversity. Stakeholders agreed to prioritise challenges in climate finance, investment promotion and facilitation, and PPP moving forward. In preparation for the COP28 in Dubai on November 2023, the forum agreed to push for carbon neutrality and investment in agencies and SEZs contributing to the energy transition.
The feats of the forum were the launching of new policy instruments and partnership initiatives, especially with the global south. The sessions were also able to influence the international policy agenda through the ministerial dialogues. The tracks in the forum were also able to focus on substantial interest areas that will jumpstart future deliberations. The deputy secretary-general emphasised that this forum is a collective response to the investment problem, and the discussion does not stop here. Progress is expected moving forward.
Several representatives including Fiji, UNFCCC, the Youth Forum, FAO, ECOSOC, UNFCC, FAO, WTO, Chile, Lebanon, Congo and UAE also spoke.
Fiji, one of the small states' representatives, mentioned that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the investment problem, and governments must actively devise ways to counter it. Moreover, it was said that small states must also progress to the green transition agenda because they are also vital parts of the value chain.
The UNFCC, on the other hand, was able to bring the climate agenda to the forum discussions. In preparation for COP28, initial discussions on fast-tracking equitable energy transition, decarbonisation, and infrastructure investment took place. They highlighted that trade and investment are critical enablers to implement concrete climate actions. This entails policy signals, incentives, and regulations in the global community to realise this.
The youth forum discussed three agendas: reimagining education, greening of industries and the future of technology. The diverse representation allowed the creation of ideas in cyber safety, AI for good, and education for the future. They were also able to forge connections and build a global network of youth leaders in continuing dialogue. A youth declaration was submitted to the UNCTAD to signal youth involvement in solving shared issues arising from the investment problem.
The FAO participated in the WIF for the first time. They highlighted the importance of forum sessions related to agriculture and agrifood systems. Investing in these systems would mean a step closer to combatting malnutrition, poverty, biodiversity loss, etc. As the world is off-track in achieving zero hunger by the end of the decade, a paradigm shift is needed to a more inclusive and sustainable agrifood system.
Mobilisation of PPP, repurposing of physical outlays, and involving civil society are some ways we could look into. Lastly, the ECOSOC stressed the need for a collective effort and mixed approach to revitalise global investment to reverse the apparent negative trends. This is a call to significantly scale up financing to close the investment gap and prevent the divide from becoming a lasting sustainable development divide. Creative and ambitious solutions are welcome if they target specific areas to slow down its negative implications.
Speakers of the Session were:

  • Pedro Manuel Moreno, Deputy Secretary-General, UNCTAD
  • Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, United Arab Emirates
  • Bernd Hackmann, Team Lead, UN Climate Change
  • Ahmad Mukhtar, Senior Economist And Head of Strategy and Policy, Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa, FAO of the UN
  • Habiba Maher, Co-Founder and COO, Youth Connect Arabia
  • Paula Narváez Ojeda, President, United Nations Economic and Social Council
  • Clara Manuela Da Luz Delgado Jesus, Ambassador, Permanent Representative At Embassy and Permanent Mission of Cabo Verde in Geneva
  • Sofia Boza Martinez, Ambassador, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Chile to the WTO
  • Marie Ndjeka Opombo, Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the United Arab Emirates
  • Vacaba Diaby, Ambassador of The Republic of Côte D'Ivoire to the United Arab Emirates
  • Lucie Berger, Ambassador of The European Union to The United Arabic Emirates
  • Naipote Katonitabua, Ambassador of The Republic of Fiji to The United Arab Emirates
  • Chrysoula Zacharopoulou Secretary of State to The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs with Responsibility for Development, Francophony and International Partnerships, Republic of France
  • Fouad Chehab Dandan, Ambassador of Lebanon to The United Arab Emirates
  • Gerard Steeghs, Ambassador of The Kingdom of The Netherlands to The United Arab Emirates
  • Mohammed Dansanta Rimi, Ambassador for The Federal Republic of Nigeria to The United Arab Emirates
  • Alain Luck, Diplomatic Adviser, Embassy of Switzerland to The United Arab Emirates and The Kingdom of Bahrain
  • James X. Zhan, Director, Division on Investment and Enterprise, UNCTAD and Lead, UNCTAD World Investment Forum
(Reporting by Hannah Gabrielle Tejoso)
Programme at a Glance
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