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Highlights of Unctad World Investment Forum 2010 in Xiamen
2010-09-14

More than 1,800 participants from 120 countries and 16 international organizations attended UNCTAD's World Investment Forum 2010 (WIF 2010) in Xiamen, China, from 6-9 September 2010.  Amongst the participants were 9 heads of State, 4 heads of international organizations, 79 ministerial-level officials, 116 senior business executives, and more than 250 other senior representatives from the public and private sector (including heads of investment promotion agencies, academics, and others).

 

 Opening Ceremony

In the Opening Ceremony, the eminent speakers, including the Secretary-General of the United Nations (via video message), the President of Iceland, the Prime Minister of Mozambique and the Vice-President of China, stressed the important role that private investment needs to play in tackling the effects of global warming and promoting a sustained economic recovery, crucial to achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. The Vice President of China, H.E. Mr. Xi Jinping, used the platform to emphasize China’s global engagement through foreign investment and announced an important policy position towards national treatment in government procurement. All speakers praised UNCTAD for upholding the theme of investment for sustainable development. 

In its 8 high-level events and conferences, the Forum brought together stakeholders from all angles of the investment community, including policy-makers, investors, negotiators, practitioners, investment promotion officials, solicitors, senior counsels, academic experts and representatives of civil society, as well as stock market managers, portfolio investors and sovereign debt managers.

In the World Leaders’ Investment Summit, 6 Heads of State and 5 CEOs of major global companies, as well as former President Clinton (via letter), reiterated the importance of sustainable investment as an engine of growth and development in the new phase of globalization, stressing the critical role of private investment in overcoming the multiple crises of food, energy and the economy, and contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  Public policy and private investment need to work together to help orient the economy towards a sustainable low-carbon future, which can begin to address the burgeoning climate crisis.

 

 Ministerial Roundtable - Attended by 28 Ministers, Dr. Supachai and Mr. Lamy

The Ministerial Roundtable picked up on this theme. The Ministers present stressed that redesigning investment policies is a must, both in terms of rebalancing the rights and obligations of investors and States, and paying more attention to the interaction of investment policies with other public policies such as climate change and financial systems reforms.  The main challenge is to find the “right” balance, nationally and internationally, whilst establishing rules and norms that ensure predictability, transparency and stability on the one hand, and that are flexible enough to serve the development purpose on the other. Ministers noted the merits of exploring international cooperation in this respect.

In the High-Level Tripartite Conference, CEOs and chief strategists from transnational corporations, senior government officials and heads of investment promotion agencies (IPAs) and other stakeholders concluded that the fight against climate change will lead to a wealth of new investment opportunities, but stressed that policies for green market creation and public-private partnerships are important to pave the way to green investment. Stakeholders argued that one way to enhance the dissemination of green technology is to promote business clusters and highlighted that talent is needed at the receiving end, particularly in developing countries. IPAs were assigned a pivotal role as drivers in developing needed networks of TNCs, domestic firms and research institutions that create a competitive offer to green investors.  

The 2010 IIA Conference focused on the central development and systemic challenges facing the current regime of international investment agreements (IIAs) and its investor-State dispute settlement system. It concluded that concerted international efforts are called for to ensure that IIAs work for sustainable development, by bringing more coherence to the international investment regime, helping rebalance the rights and obligations of investors and States in newly concluded or re-negotiated investment treaties, tackling the interaction of the IIA regime with public policies such as those related to climate change, financial systems reform, national security, human rights in the pursuit of national development strategies and sustainable development, and addressing the systemic problems of the investor-States dispute settlement system. The Conference noted the merits of international consensus-building, and the important contribution that UNCTAD could make in this area. It ended with the launching of the “G-15 of Law Schools” project of inclusive and open academic networking on international investment law issues.

 

Welcome Banquet; Speaker: Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, SG of UNCTAD

The 2010 Sustainable Stock Exchanges Conference, which was co-convened with the UN Global Compact and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and supported by the International Organization for Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and the UNEP Finance Initiative, focused on the relationship between all major exchanges and the regulatory frameworks in which they operate in light of environmental, social and governance issues. High-level stock market regulators, along with leading stock exchange executives and CEOs of large portfolio investors explored how the world's exchanges could work together with investors, regulators, and business to encourage responsible long-term approaches to investment.  The Conference noted that emerging markets are taking the lead in promoting sustainable stock exchanges.

The Conference on Sovereign Lending and Borrowing – attended by high-level government officials (including the President of Iceland and the Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe) and experts in the field – reviewed a first working draft of a set of principles for promoting responsible sovereign lending and borrowing, and discussed how to set up a transparent and inclusive process for further work in this area under the auspices of the UNCTAD.

 
The 2010 UNCTAD Investment Promotion Awards – presented during a Networking Lunch – were awarded for excellence in the promotion of green investment to create awareness of the key role that IPAs can play in fostering environmentally sustainable development. The three winners were Copenhagen Capacity from Denmark for its work to attract cutting-edge clean-tech investors through the building of strong clusters; the Board of Investment of Mauritius for its efforts to attract investors in renewable energy and raising sustainability awareness among stakeholders; and InvestHK from Hong Kong, China, and the Shenzhen Municipal Government from China for their collaboration in attracting a major solar value chain project under the “Shenzhen-Hong Kong Innovation Circle” initiative.

The 8th meeting of the UNCTAD International Investment Advisory Council (attended by 40 government and business leaders, as well as heads of international organizations) called for the creation of novel business models that encourages foreign investors to “invest in the poor (viable and sustainable investment in poverty alleviation), for the poor (accessible and affordable products and services) and with the poor (fostering business linkages with domestic SMEs)”. This requires a new partnership between international organizations, TNCs and business schools.

The Investment Showcases for Cambodia, Jordan, Lao PDR, Namibia, Viet Nam and Zambia, presented by Ministers, attracted high level potential investors, and led to a number of concrete follow-ups. Similarly, a series of consultations on the UNCTAD Border-Zone Industrial Parks Initiative (an Economic Relief Plan for Haiti) by delegations from Haiti and the Dominican Republic attracted numerous interests.

In addition to these high-level events, the 2010 WIF offered numerous networking opportunities, both formal and informal, including through two networking luncheons and three major evening events.


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