© Shutterstock/Gerardo C.Lerner | Construction of a hydropower dam in Luang Prabang, Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

World Investment Forum 2023 ends with strong call for greater private and public investment

The world needs increased investment flows to drive economic transformation in energy, infrastructure, agrifood and health sectors to ensure sustainable development.

UNCTAD’s 8th World Investment Forum came to a close on 20 October with a powerful call to public and private investors to play a pivotal role in reshaping the world economy, and seize the emerging opportunities offered by the energy transition, transformation of the agrifood and health sectors and the changing solutions for sustainable development.

The weeklong event saw the convergence of 8,000 participants, including government officials, international organizations, policymakers, 700 CEOs and investors, sovereign wealth funds, sustainable stock exchanges and key capital markets actors.

Held against the backdrop of a fragmented global economy, the forum addressed the profound impact on trade and investment, with foreign direct investment experiencing a continued downturn as data from the first half of 2023 highlighted.

UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Pedro Manuel Moreno said the downturn “is of much concern as less investment means less economic growth and fewer means to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – the SDGs.”

Notably, small island developing states, exemplified by the presence of Fiji’s Deputy Prime Minister Manoa Kamikamica, called for the leveraging of blended financing and other “derisking” solutions to tackle funding shortages in countries that face debt distress, the challenging international investment climate, tightening financing conditions and persistent institutional and infrastructure shortcomings.

Foreign direct investment and COP28

In a bid to include the investment perspective in COP28 deliberations and finance a just transition, a call was made to bring investor conversations from the forum into discussions at the forthcoming climate summit, as countries prepare their new national climate action plans by 2025.

New investment policy instrument

The forum also unveiled a suite of new investment policy instruments, including the identification of 50 SDG model special economic zones, the launch of a multi-stakeholder platform on international investment agreements reform, and a collaboration with the UN World Tourism Organization to establish guiding principles for sustainable tourism investment.

Partnerships with UNCTAD to drive investment in developing countries

In addition, the forum saw the announcement of several strategic partnerships. These include collaborations with the African Sovereign Investors Forum, regional partnerships for sustainability reporting in Asia, the Gulf region and Eurasia, and an agreement between the stock exchanges of Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand to launch a central sustainability platform for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region.

To kickstart investment, the forum introduced two new donor-funded technical assistance programmes. First, a funding partnership with the German International Climate Initiative and GIZ, the German development agency, to support sustainability reporting and climate disclosure in developing countries.

Second, a 2.8 million Euro partnership between Europe, the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States and UNCTAD, aimed at bolstering the capacity for investment facilitation in Angola, Gambia, Nigeria, Suriname, Vanuatu, Zimbabwe and the wider African, Caribbean and Pacific group of countries.

This partnership will provide essential support through digital government tools such as information portals and single windows, streamlining administrative procedures for investors and fostering inclusive development. The project, set to run from October 2023 to September 2025, reflects a commitment to advancing investment facilitation and contributing to the SDGs.

The 9th World Investment Forum will take place in 2025.