Think Piece

Towards an Indicative List of FDI Sustainability Characteristics

October 2017
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The amount of investment needed to meet the global challenges of the future is tremendous: meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate change commitments alone requires trillions of investment dollars. Foreign direct investment (FDI) can make an important contribution to meeting these investment needs. But to make a real difference, FDI flows would have to increase significantly. However, the issue is not only more FDI, but the right kind of FDI — what is referred to as “sustainable FDI” in this paper, that is, investment that has certain sustainability characteristics.

An indicative list of FDI sustainability characteristics constitutes a checklist that can help interested parties determine what sustainable FDI is. In fact, the very process of seeking to identify such sustainability characteristics can make an important contribution to the international investment debate, including by highlighting particular desirable characteristics of FDI and outlining how these can be promoted and encouraged.

At a time when the SDGs have become the lodestar for policymaking, it is important for national and international efforts in the investment area to contribute fully to the achievement of these goals as well. An indicative list of sustainability characteristics of FDI that are SDG-supportive provides guidance to such efforts, helping to ensure that investment law and policy play an important role in this regard.

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