The world needs a new generation of policies that places inclusive growth and sustainable development at the heart of efforts to attract and benefit from foreign direct investment (FDI), says UNCTAD´s World Investment Report 20121. Such an approach poses challenges for national and international decision makers, the report notes.
The report, released today, is subtitled “Towards a New Generation of Investment Policies”. It provides guidance for policymakers in their efforts to promote investment for sustainable development. The centrepiece is the Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development (IPFSD), contained in chapter 4 of the report.
New challenges in investment policies require new answers
A new generation of investment policies seeks to address specific concerns related to sustainable development at the national and international levels. At the national level, these challenges include integrating investment policies into broader development strategies, incorporating sustainable development objectives into national legislation and improving the effectiveness of investment-related policies. At the international level, the report says, there is a need to strengthen the sustainable development dimension of international investment agreements, to better balance the rights and obligations of States and investors, and to better manage the existing complexity of those agreements, which continue to grow in number around the world.
A guide for a new era of investment policies
The new investment policy framework provides guidance for governments on how to address these challenges at the level of policy design and implementation. The framework consists of:
• A set of eleven core principles for investment policymaking with the starting point that the overarching objective of investment policymaking is to promote investment for inclusive growth and sustainable development;
• Detailed guidelines for national investment policies at the strategic, normative and administrative levels;
• Specific guidance for policymakers in the form of options for the design and use of international investment agreements with a particular focus on strengthening the sustainable development dimension of these agreements.
These key components reflect the recognition that investment promotion, if it is to generate sustainable development outcomes and more quality investment, has to be accompanied – if not preceded –by the establishment of proper and effective regulatory and institutional frameworks, the report contends.
UNCTAD anticipates that the new framework may also serve as a reference for policymakers in areas as diverse as trade, competition, industry, environment, or any other field where investment plays an important role and where coherence in policymaking is crucial. While it does not seek a one-size-fits-all solution, it may come to act as a point of convergence for international cooperation on investment issues.
"Our core principles for more sustainable international investment policymaking are a direct response to the mandate member States gave us at the recent UNCTAD XIII Conference, held in Doha, Qatar, in April of this year," comments UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi. "I am convinced that our Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development will be taken up wholeheartedly by policymakers around the globe, as they face the challenge of moving from quantity- to quality investment, especially in developing countries".
An interactive format for policy discussion
The report describes the new policy framework as a pragmatic and “living document”. To that end, UNCTAD will continue to provide a platform for consultation and discussion on the framework with all investment stakeholders and the development community, including policymakers, the international development community, investors, business associations, labour unions, and relevant non-governmental organizations and interest groups. UNCTAD also has set up an interactive open-source discussion forum (“IPFSD online”) that invites the international community to exchange views, suggestions and experiences.
Overview - http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/wir2012overview_en.pdf