Agrifood Sector Must Be a Priority for Global Foreign Direct Investment

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Agrifood Sector Must Be a Priority for Global Foreign Direct Investment
The 8th World Investment Forum gathered ministers of investment and enterprise to discuss priorities and policies to attract foreign direct investment to the agrifood sector.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 18 October 2023

Ministers of investment and enterprise participating in the 8th World Investment Forum identified the agrifood sector as a top priority for global investment.

They emphasized its pivotal role in addressing a $4 trillion annual investment gap in developing countries that needs to be bridged to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and underlined its role in enhancing food security and preserving biodiversity.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan underscored challenges of attracting investment, such as risk reduction, capacity-building and reforming international financial structures.

“The solutions to these challenges are not solely in the hands of any one country or institution,” she said. “So let us come together, learn from one another, and chart a path forward that benefits all.”

Key obstacles

Meanwhile, the ministers identified high debt levels and a volatile international investment climate as key obstacles. They reached consensus on the importance of fostering a business-friendly environment, attracting environmentally responsible investments and establishing strategic public-private partnerships.

They deemed investment in transformative and sustainable technologies to be crucial for a paradigm shift in global food security and environmental sustainability. This involves accelerating the transition to renewable energy, harnessing green technologies and promoting supportive business environments.

At the Enterprise Ministerial Round Table, which included 18 ministers and representatives, participants emphasized the pivotal role of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in global economies.

Game-changing businesses

The World Investment Forum 2023 showcased game-changing start-up innovations for sustainable development. These innovations range from low- to high-tech solutions, including accessible greenhouse solutions for small farmers, lab-grown meat, land and desert regeneration technologies, and efficiency-enhancing solutions for agribusiness.

50 new SDG model zones launched

In response to the United Nations' call at the SDG Summit in September 2023 for a scale-up in efforts for the 2030 Agenda through SDG investments, the Global Alliance of Special Economic Zones launched the SDG Model Zone initiative during the forum.

This initiative recognizes the work of 50 special economic zones from around the world that are leading the way in sustainable development.


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UNCTAD is the UN trade and development body. It supports developing countries to access the benefits of a globalized economy more fairly and effectively and equips them to deal with the potential drawbacks of greater economic integration.

It provides analysis, facilitates consensus-building and offers technical assistance to help developing countries use trade, investment, finance and technology as vehicles for inclusive and sustainable development.

UNCTAD organizes the World Investment Forum with stakeholders and partners.