The new Work Programme on the Future of Investment Treaties at the OECD

Following discussions at the Freedom of Investment Roundtable in 2021, the OECD has launched a new Work Programme on the Future of Investment Treaties. According to a recent OECD announcement, the initiative is aimed at exploring “how the investment treaties of tomorrow could help address these challenges and how to deal with existing agreements in a pragmatic way.” The initiative will complement existing international reform efforts at UNCTAD, UNCITRAL, and the WTO.

The Work Programme, which was first sketched out in a working paper in March 2021, is scheduled to last 2 years and will consist of two tracks. The first track is open for civil society organizations to participate and will focus on the role of investment treaties in addressing major challenges such as climate change. The second track—which is restricted to participation from national governments—will discuss specific substantive provisions of outdated treaties and possible avenues for reform.

As part of the first track, the OECD has launched a public consultation with a view to “to helping government policy-makers respond to the climate crisis in their investment treaty policies.” Government representatives will discuss the submissions received at the 7th annual OECD Investment Treaty Conference on May 10, 2022. Together with Client Earth and the Centre for International Environmental Law, IISD has made a submission to the consultation.