Investment Law & Policy
Sustainable development is an investment issue. Investment is needed to alleviate poverty, create jobs, accelerate the energy transition, and develop the key infrastructure communities need to prosper.
IISD works with governments, international institutions, academics, and civil society to develop policy tools and legal frameworks that link investment to sustainable development outcomes. Our innovative approaches to investment law and policy advance sustainable investments, generating social, economic, and environmental benefits.
IISD's experts examine how to improve the rules and institutions that govern international investment flows for the benefit of emerging economies and publish independent, high-quality, and impactful research. Building on our expertise, we propose viable alternatives to some of the most burning issues within international investment.
We provide workshops, training, and advisory services to government officials and civil society actors across a wide range of developing economies. IISD hosts the annual Investment Policy Forum—a unique event that brings together investment officials from developing economies across the world and has created a truly global network for change.
In addition, IISD's team of experts track and support key reform processes within international investment law to ensure robust sustainability outcomes. We are leading the way in reforming how disputes are settled under investment treaties—a process known as investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS).
This includes being a member of the United Nations Conference on International Trade Law process for ISDS reform and our instrumental role on reform of the Energy Charter Treaty, where we are working for the removal of one of the key remaining obstacles to the green energy transition and advancing sustainable legal solutions.
We are a founding member of the World Investment for Development Alliance, a global platform dedicated to promoting investment for sustainable development.
Investment Policy Forum
IISD hosts the annual Investment Policy Forum, the world's only yearly assembly on investment negotiation exclusively for developing economy officials.
Investment Treaty News
IISD publishes Investment Treaty News, a quarterly journal offering news and analysis on the impacts of investment law and policy for sustainable development.
Webinars on Investment Law and Policy
IISD's webinar series provides key information on developments in international law and policy. It equips developing economy governments and regional organizations to negotiate better treaties and contracts and prepare for investment disputes.
What we do
Creating Sustainable Reform
IISD collaborates with governments, international institutions, academics, and civil society to propose and support reform in international investment treaties, laws and policies. We are leading the way on global investor-state dispute settlement reform.
Capacity Building, Technical Advice and Training Courses
IISD's highly qualified international lawyers provide training courses, workshops, and a range of advisory services for developing economy officials - covering investment treaties, laws and contracts, negotiations, and dispute prevention and management.
Best Practices Policy Bulletins
IISD's Best Practices Series analyzes the evolving scope and nature of investment treaty negotiations, drawing on public treaty texts and model agreements from governments.
In the News
"Lukas Schaugg: 'The Energy Charter Treaty hinders climate action'"
"Several African countries have started the process of accession to the ECT…The extension of the ECT poses a threat to developing countries. The ISDS challenges the legal and regulatory sovereignty of the states hosting investments and can therefore even hinder the exploitation of these resources in a way that ensures local added value and respect for environmental standards."
"Länders avhopp från omstritt energiavtal sätter press på Sverige" - Dagens Nyheter
The withdrawals from the Energy Charter Treaty by several EU member states increase the pressure on Sweden, the Swedish newspaper "Dagens Nyheter' writes. "It is difficult to see that the EU will not withdraw...Everyone's eyes are now on the EU Council of Ministers", IISD’s Lukas Schaugg says.
"EU-lande løber fra energitraktat, der beskytter både sorte og grønne investeringer" - Mandag Morgen
“’Traktaten udgør en risiko for, at stater af frygt for krav om kompensationer afholder sig fra at understøtte nye energiformer og teknologier’, siger Lukas Schaugg [ekspert i international investeringslovgivning i tænketanken International Institute for Sustainable Development, IISD].”
"EU exit from climate-killing energy treaty looms" - Deutsche Welle
"Denmark's announcement is yet another sign of the growing momentum for a coordinated withdrawal from the ECT," he [Lukas Schaugg, law analyst with the International Institute for Sustainable Development] said. "Such a step will free up the policy space required for an ambitious energy transition and an investment policy in line with the times.”
"Morning Trade UK: Rebel yell — Brazil evolution — ECT end times?" - Politico Pro
Baked into the treaty is a 20-year sunset clause making it essential for the U.K. government to get any withdrawal right, warns Lukas Schaugg, an international law analyst at the International Institute for Sustainable Development.
"Legal expert: ECT withdrawal ‘is the only possible course of action’" - Euractiv
"Following the decision by several EU member states to leave the controversial Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), the European Commission must now put proposals on the table for the EU to withdraw collectively, says Lukas Schaugg. Lukas Schaugg is an international law analyst at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)."
"In U-turn, Brussels recommends EU-wide exit from controversial Energy Charter Treaty" - Euronews
"'The fact that the Commission is now advocating for a coordinated EU withdrawal is encouraging. It would reduce the risk of problematic arbitration claims in the future,' Lukas Schaugg, a law analyst at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), told Euronews."
"Why a coordinated withdrawal from the Energy Charter Treaty is inevitable" - Euractiv
"Since October 2022, seven EU member states have announced plans to withdraw from the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). Across the board, the message is clear: the insufficient and potentially climate-damaging treaty reform effort is no longer a politically viable option, write Christina Eckes, Lea Main-Klingst and Lukas Schaugg [IISD]."
"EU states 'revolt' against controversial energy treaty" - Deutsche Welle
"'You could definitely call it a revolt,' said Lukas Schaugg, law analyst with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), a Canada-based think tank, of the recent exodus from the treaty. With the Netherlands having played an integral role in establishing the ECT, he called the decision to withdraw 'a significant step.'"
"Uniper drops coal case as tensions rise over treaty on fossil fuel projects" - Financial Times
"Case numbers [relating to the ECT] could be expected to rise, 'possibly sharply', in the coming years, said Lukas Schaugg, a legal analyst at the International Institute for Sustainable Development. The biggest risk was that the revised treaty 'might relate to the prolonged protection of existing, rather than future, investments,' he said."
"This new alliance is helping grow collaboration on international investment" - World Economic Forum
"We are excited to announce the launch of the World Investment for Development Alliance (WIDA) at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2022. By bringing all relevant stakeholders onto one platform, WIDA can enable conversations and coordination to identify opportunities for collaboration. This is the first time leading organizations from the investment for development community have come together to collaborate on growing sustainable investment flows."
Interim Co-President and Co-CEO | Vice-President, Global Strategies and Managing Director, Europe
Suzy H. Nikièma
International Law Analyst
Senior Project Manager
Senior Program Assistant
Associate, Advisor Agriculture and Investment
Strengthening the Legal Framework for Environmental and Social Impact Assessment in the Mining Sector in Madagascar: Selected issues
This summary note presents the main strengths and weaknesses of the legal framework on ESIA in the mining sector in Madagascar.
Lukas Schaugg: "The Energy Charter Treaty hinders climate action"
The Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), established decades ago to facilitate energy investments in Europe and Central Asia, is now being challenged and accused of protecting investments in fossil fuels. Faced with the failure of the reform processes undertaken so far, several European countries, notably France and Germany, have decided to exit the ECT. However, the treaty is trying to expand to Africa as new oil and gas fields are discovered on the continent. In this interview, Lukas Schaugg, International Law Analyst at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), describes the challenges of the ECT in the face of the climate emergency.
Lukas Schaugg : « Le Traité sur la charte de l’énergie entrave l’action climatique » (in French)
Mis en place il y a plusieurs décennies pour faciliter les investissements dans l’énergie en Europe et en Asie centrale, le Traité sur la charte de l’énergie (TCE) est aujourd’hui contesté et accusé de protéger les investissements dans les énergies fossiles. Face à l’échec des processus de réforme engagés à ce jour, plusieurs pays européens, notamment la France et l’Allemagne, ont décidé de sortir du TCE. Cependant, le traité tente de s’étendre vers l’Afrique au moment où de nouveaux gisements de gaz et de pétrole sont découverts sur le continent. Dans cet entretien, Lukas Schaugg, Analyste en droit international à l’Institut international du développement durable (IISD), décrit les enjeux du TCE à l’heure de l’urgence climatique.
Länders avhopp från omstritt energiavtal sätter press på Sverige (in Swedish)
Danmark är det senaste EU-landet som drar sig ur Energistadgefördraget, ECT. Avtalet skyddar energiinvesteringar och används för att kräva skadestånd på många miljarder när länder fasar ut olja och kol.
A Guide for Developing Countries on How to Understand and Adapt to the Global Minimum Tax
This guide provides policy-makers in developing countries with a simple framework to understand the global minimum tax, how it may affect them, and how to adapt domestic tax policy in response.
EU-landenes opgør med sorte investorer kan give grønt bagslag (in Danish)
Danmark og andre EU-lande er ved at aflive en central international aftale om beskyttelse af energiinvestorer. Et uheldigt signal, når EU-landene skal finde milliarder af private investeringer til den grønne omstilling, vurderer chefanalytiker. Et nødvendigt skridt i opgøret med fossile investeringer, siger ekspert i bæredygtighed og international ret.
EU exit from climate-killing energy treaty looms
Denmark joins a spate of EU nations including Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands who are exiting the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), an investment pact weaponized by big emitters to sue governments — most recently for phasing out fossil fuels.
A Quest for Legal Clarity: What the International Court of Justice's upcoming advisory opinion means for climate action
The United Nations General Assembly resolution comes at a pivotal moment for the international climate community, as governments, civil society, academia, and private actors all prepare for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change's 28th Conference of the Parties (COP 28) this November.
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