Key Message

Without investment, sustainable development is impossible. Well planned, high quality foreign investment in developed and developing countries can help make current economic practices more sustainable. Inappropriate investment, however, can undermine communities and the environment, as well as domestic development strategies. IISD examines how the rules and institutions that govern international investment flows can be improved so as to help developing countries, in particular, attract the sort of investment that promotes sustainable development.


Mark Halle sees investment as critical to addressing sustainable development. (Flash Video - 1:47 min)


Mark Halle· Mark Halle
Vice-President, International
Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder· Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder
Program Leader and Senior International Lawyer
Flavia Thomé· Flavia Thomé
Project Manager
Howard Mann· Howard Mann
Associate & Senior International Law Advisor
Aaron Cosbey· Aaron Cosbey
Associate and Senior Climate Change and Trade Advisor
Oshani Perera· Oshani Perera
Program Leader
Damon Vis-Dunbar· Damon Vis-Dunbar
Project Manager
Elka Parveva-Kern· Elka Parveva-Kern
Contract and Project Administrator
Alec Crawford· Alec Crawford
Tilmann Liebert· Tilmann Liebert
Program Officer
Simon Zadek· Simon Zadek
Senior Fellow and Associate
Vivek Voora· Vivek Voora

Investment and Sustainable Development

A global agenda for change in international investment law, policy and institutions

What's New in Investment and Sustainable Development?

  • IISD will be organising a training course on the negotiation of mine development agreements entitled "Mining Contracts: Understanding and Improving The Negotiation Process and Results." The seminar will be delivered in partnership with the Sustainable Development Strategies Group (SDSG), Trade Policy Training Centre in Africa (TRAPCA) and the World Bank. It is designed for senior government officials who are involved in mining contract negotiations and will take place 26-30 May 2014 in Arusha, Tanzania.

  • IISD applauds the UNCITRAL Secretariat’s establishment of a Transparency Registry that will function as a repository for the publication of information and documents in treaty-based investor-State arbitration. This important step follows the entry into force of the UNCITRAL Rules on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration (the “Transparency Rules”) on April 1, 2014. The Transparency Registry will contain information on the commencement of an arbitration, and make available a wide range of documents, including transcripts of hearings; orders, decisions and awards of the arbitral tribunal; and submissions to the tribunal. The UNCITRAL Transparency Rules are an integral part of the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules and will apply on a default basis to UNCITRAL investor-State arbitrations conducted under investment treaties concluded after April 1, 2014.

  • World Bank Land and Poverty Conference, 24-28 March, 2014
    IISD will be actively participating at the annual World Bank conference on land and poverty issues. We will be speaking in the panel, The African land policy initiative: Advances made and next steps, on 25 March. Later that evening IISD will also be a guest speaker at the Swiss reception, providing insights into how IISD's investment programme is supporting efforts by governments and parliamentarians to improve investment in land, water and other natural resources.

  • A Response to the European Commission's December 2013 Document "Investment Provisions in the EU-Canada Free Trade Agreement (CETA)"
    On December 3, 2013, the European Commission issued a document concerning the investment provisions in the EU-Canada free trade agreement (CETA) explaining how the CETA protects the right to regulate. In the present paper, IISD examines the assertions made by the European Commission against the actual text of the draft CETA Investment Chapter dated November 21, 2013 on the substantive provisions and the draft investor-state dispute settlement provisions as of February 4, 2014. In the end, we conclude that the actual draft legal texts in the public domain fail to meet a number of the European Commission's stated objectives.

  • Africa is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in Durban, South African, from 18-21 March 2014. IISD together with the Pan African Parliament and CAADP is organising a dialogue with parliamentarians on how to strengthen investment in agriculture in the next decade. The recommendations will be submitted for approval to the joint AU African Ministers of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development (28 April-2 May 2014). Event program can be found here.

  • The Ad-Hoc Experts Group Meeting on Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) and National Champions took place on February 18-19 as part of a larger UNECA forum on the Role of National Champions in Africa. The expert group seminar was attended by over 30 African government experts and explored the constraints imposed by investment treaties on the development of African policy on FDI and the creation of national champions. The meeting developed specific recommendations for governments to reduce these constraints and improve the capacity of governments to understand and negotiate investment treaties. The Experts also called for the development of a Pan-African, made in Africa, policy towards future treaty negotiations.

IISD has been breaking new ground on investment and sustainable development issues since 1998.

Investment is critical for sustainable development, which requires fundamental changes in how we produce, distribute and dispose of goods. Today this kind of change must come mainly through investment in new technologies and new processes that can replace unsustainable practices. In developing countries, where domestic sources of capital are scarce, foreign direct investment plays a significant role.

But not all investment leads to sustainable development, and not all of the global rules and institutions relating to international investment have been conceived through a sustainable development lens. IISD's work on investment and sustainable development focuses on this critical linkage, and provides new approaches to ensure that investment law and policy will make a positive contribution to sustainable development.