Academic Network on Investment for Development

Over the last few decades the international operations of multinational enterprises (MNEs) have evolved immeasurably in scale and form.

At the same time, the international community is confronted simultaneously with a set of challenges, the scale and complexity of which is virtually unprecedented.  These include, climate change and large-scale environmental issues; unsustainable economic and social development, which requires immediate attention to poverty alleviation and inequality, food and energy security, and much more; and the instability of the global economic system, reflecting its inherent volatility.

To meet these challenges policy makers, business, civil society and international institutions have put in place the sustainable development goals (SDGs) with targets stretching to 2030 and beyond.

We are witnessing a step-change in the world economy. Building the future has already begun. Meeting the challenge of investment for development, in particular achieving the SDGs, requires among others that investment is reconfigured to better harness the contribution of MNEs for development, especially in light of the contemporary MNE universe and the new balance between the public and private sectors. Finding solutions requires the engagement of all investment stakeholders, especially cutting-edge academic research that can shine the light for sustainable alternatives going forward.

Research leaders, such as UNCTAD and academic colleagues have a major role to play in understanding and acting upon key pathways to make investment work for sustainable development, be this through policy making, MNE strategy or investor-community engagement for responsible and effective investment. The areas in which research work is required are immense, so it is necessary to establish an overall framework and within this agree priorities, i.e. a research agenda.

The research agenda needs to be:

  • Future-oriented. It is necessary be more proactive and forward-looking to ensure that investment contributes to a sustainable world for future generations. For example, policy makers and negotiators should have a thorough understanding of the sustainable development implications of their legal commitments in the realm of investment treaties before they negotiate and sign on to these.

  • Policy-oriented, because at this time of change a stronger relationship is needed between the work of academics, researchers and policy makers.

  • Multidisciplinary because the issues are highly complex. Working in silos has not served us well. The search for solutions needs to be multi-faceted to reflect the complexities we face.

Related link:

Shaping a New Policy Research Agenda: Multi-disciplinary Academic Conference (15 October 2014)

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