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Without investment, sustainable development is impossible. 

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. In particular, we examine how the rules and institutions that govern international investment flows can be improved to help developing countries attract the sort of investment that promotes sustainable development.

  • Paper
    Towards an Indicative List of FDI Sustainability Characteristics

    Towards an Indicative List of FDI Sustainability Characteristics

    Based on a review of 150 instruments, ranging from international investment agreements to codes of multinational enterprises, this paper identifies ten core characteristics of sustainable FDI and twenty emerging sustainable FDI characteristics widely accepted across ten stakeholder groups

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  • Blog
    Hunger Is On the Rise: Here are three ways to stop it

    Hunger Is On the Rise: Here are three ways to stop it

    Hunger levels are rising. Carin Smaller explores how technology could help tackle climate change and end hunger.

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  • Blog
    China’s Largest Arbitration Institution Adopts its First Investment Arbitration Rules

    China’s Largest Arbitration Institution Adopts its First Investment Arbitration Rules

    China’s new rules for investment arbitration are not yet publicly available in English. We present an advanced draft of the rules, and explain why they matter.

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  • Report
    Assessing the Impacts of Investment Treaties: Overview of the evidence

    Assessing the Impacts of Investment Treaties: Overview of the evidence

    Investment treaties grant powerful legal rights to foreign investors. Foreign investors’ ability to frame plausible multimillion-dollar claims against a wide range of host government actions—and the fact that these claims are adjudicated through a system of private arbitration—has made investment treaties controversial. This scoping study seeks to provide an overview and assessment of existing evidence of investment treaties’ impacts.

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  • Newsletter
    Investment Treaty News Quarterly (ITN), Volume 8, Issue 3, September 2017

    Investment Treaty News Quarterly (ITN), Volume 8, Issue 3, September 2017

    Investment Treaty News (ITN) is IISD’s flagship quarterly journal on international investment law and policy.

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  • Blog
    Farmland Investments Are Finding their Way to International Arbitration

    Farmland Investments Are Finding their Way to International Arbitration

    A claim registered by a Swedish investor against the Tanzanian government for revoking a land title amid concerns over the impact on local communities and a wildlife sanctuary is the first known investor-state dispute against a government linked to the so-called “land grab” phenomenon, which arose out of the 2008 food crisis.

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  • Report
    Investment-Related Dispute Settlement: Lessons from international accountability mechanisms

    Investment-Related Dispute Settlement: Lessons from international accountability mechanisms

    Investment-Related Dispute Settlement: Results of an Expert Meeting held in Washington, D.C., April 11, 2017.

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  • Commentary
    United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), Fiftieth Session, Vienna, July 3-21, 2017: Submission by IISD regarding the reform of investment-related dispute settlement

    United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), Fiftieth Session, Vienna, July 3-21, 2017: Submission by IISD regarding the reform of investment-related dispute settlement

    IISD's participation in the multilateral process in UNCITRAL is aimed at promoting the much-needed development of a comprehensive and inclusive investment-related dispute settlement mechanism.

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  • Newsletter
    Investment Treaty News Quarterly (ITN), Volume 8, Issue 2, June 2017

    Investment Treaty News Quarterly (ITN), Volume 8, Issue 2, June 2017

    Investment Treaty News is IISD’s flagship quarterly journal on international investment law and policy.

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  • Blog
    Why We Need a

    Why We Need a "Comprehensive and Inclusive" Investment-Related Dispute Settlement Mechanism

    If investment-related dispute settlement mechanisms at the international level were to be built anew, what should they look like?

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