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Investment Law & Policy

Foreign direct investment (FDI) is an important source of capital for countries, but it does not come without risks. How can we ensure investments are made responsibly, without harming people, the environment, or the local economy?

Sustainable development is an investment issue. Capital is needed to alleviate poverty, create jobs, accelerate the clean energy transition, and allow for the development of much-needed infrastructure to provide goods and services for all.

IISD works with governments and civil society to develop and improve legal and policy tools focusing on the critical linkage between investment and sustainable development. We look for and provide new approaches to ensure that investment law and policy advance environmentally sound investment that generates broad socioeconomic benefits.

In particular, IISD experts examine how the rules and institutions that govern international investment flows can be improved to benefit developing countries. This includes our work on reforming how disputes are settled under investment treatiesa process known as investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS)where we collaborate with national governments, regional and international organizations, academics and civil society to reshape investment law and policy frameworks collaboratively and innovatively. This work is not limited to ISDS, but also covers investor obligations and improved access to justice for those individuals and communities adversely affected by foreign investment projects.

We also actively participate in the multilateral intergovernmental process at the United Nations Conference on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) to discuss possible ISDS reform, as well as in the UN talks on a binding treaty on business and human rights. 

As an integral component of our investment work, we are the host and convener of the Annual Forum of Developing Country Investment Negotiators, an event that brings together officials from across world regions to discuss the latest trends in these areas, exchange experiences, and assess possible next steps. IISD also publishes objective, independent, high-quality research and resources relating to investment law and policy, and provides advisory services for countries to support their work on developing new legal tools and frameworks for investment.

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