Aligning Investment Treaties with Sustainable Development
Policy makers and other stakeholders are currently asking fundamental questions about whether and to what extent international investment agreements (IIAs) are consistent with and are helping to advance sustainable development objectives at home and abroad.
A 2019 paper from CCSI examines the alignment of IIAs with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, arguing that while FDI will play an important role in advancing development outcomes, existing treaties must be reformed and future IIAs reimagined in order to achieve deep alignment with the sustainable development goals.
The paper proposes that IIAs should be designed and evaluated with respect to their ability to promote investments that advance sustainable development goals, while withholding benefits from investments that undermine these goals.
It then argues that treaties should also be evaluated according to their ability to promote, rather than constrain, responsible, SDG-advancing governance at the national level. It considers the effects of IIAs on policy-making processes and regulatory space, cautioning that current provisions in IIAs protect the interests of investors over those of other stakeholders and constrain states’ abilities to regulate investments to conform with the public interest.
Finally, it suggests that international agreements could and should do more to address transnational governance gaps, regulatory races to the bottom, and global commons problems, where international commitments related to the governance of investment could advance development outcomes.