By Samson Echenim
Government leaders, global CEOs and other investment stakeholders will step up efforts to promote investment for sustainable development at the 7th biennial UNCTAD World Investment Forum (WIF) and the first-ever Asian E-Commerce Week to be held in Abu Dhabi from December 6 to 10, this year.
The WIF is the largest global platform for high-level dialogue and action on investment and development. This year’s edition will seek to accelerate actions to align international investment with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Mukhisa Kituyi, UNCTAD secretary-general and Abdullah Bin Ahmed Al Saleh, under-secretary of the Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, signed on 13 February an agreement to host the forum.
“At the onset of what UN secretary-general António Guterres has declared the decade of action on Agenda 2030, more investment must be mobilised into areas of greatest need to ensure inclusive prosperity. I thank the United Arab Emirates for offering to host this important forum,” Kituyi said at the signing.
Al Saleh said: “The forum is a unique platform to facilitate policymaking and joint action that is necessary to stimulate investments in development areas.”
A close link will be sought with the underlying theme of the World Expo 2020, “Connecting Minds. Creating the Future.”
Investors, firms and governments are, in increasing numbers, putting sustainability at the core of their activities. Initiatives like the WIF can change investor behavior and further leverage investment for sustainable development.
“This change requires rapid and constructive dialogue between all stakeholders, the sharing of best practices, and the agreement of concrete investments and financing solutions. The biennial forum therefore, produces strategies to address global investment and development challenges; facilitates networking between global leaders in business and politics; stimulates public and private action on investment for sustainable development; and offers a unique opportunity to influence investment policymaking and shape the global investment environment,” UNCTAD stated in a release on Monday.
The forum will provide attendees with the opportunity to interact with high-level participants from the global investment community, including heads of state and government and ministers.
Other regular participants are executives of global companies and stock exchanges, sovereign wealth fund managers, investment treaty negotiators, heads of investment promotion agencies, international investment location experts, heads of international organizations, parliamentarians, civil society representatives, eminent scholars, and the international media.
“This year’s forum will focus on three key issues facing the global investment and development community through a series of high-level events: how can investment stakeholders more rapidly integrate sustainability criteria into investment decisions and business operations and create both long-term value and sustainable development impact?
“How can governments and businesses respond to the far-reaching development consequences of technological change and its impact on investment, harnessing its potential, while mitigating the risks of premature de-industrialization and social change?
“What are the implications of increasing fragmentation in international economic policymaking, especially in trade and investment, that has led to a rise in protectionism, as well as an emphasis on regionalism?,” the conference stated.
“These issues pose both challenges and opportunities for the global investment community,” said James Zhan, UNCTAD’s director of investment and enterprise.
“The forum will help advance an action-oriented, solutions-driven policy agenda, that will bring the SDGs to fruition,” Zhan said.