The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), a joint center of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, works to strengthen the sustainable development potential of international investment, and to ensure that international investment is mutually beneficial for investors and the citizens of recipient countries. We envision a world in which international investment contributes to, and does not undermine, sustainable development.
We develop and disseminate practical approaches to maximize the benefits of international investment for sustainable development—and to minimize its harms—by conducting rigorous research, providing policy analysis and advisory services, offering educational programs, developing tools and resources, and fostering multi-stakeholder dialogue and knowledge-sharing.
We integrate legal, economic, and policy expertise, and approach sustainable investment holistically, bridging diverse disciplines, including investment law, natural resource management, human rights law, economics, political economy, finance, and climate change policy. One of our great strengths lies in having knowledgeable perspective across the range of stakeholders, tools, policies, and practices that shape investment flows and outcomes. This allows us to work across communities of practice and with different stakeholder groups, and to provide insight and solutions at the intersections of these often-siloed areas relevant to sustainable investment.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) is a major global economic force, delivering 65% more goods and services to foreign markets than trade. Such investment can play a crucial role in advancing sustainable development: it facilitates the transfer of capital, knowledge, and technology, and can help to create jobs, develop linkages between local industries, promote infrastructure development, build local capacity, and foster links between countries. FDI also serves as a fundamental source of financing for development, central to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and bridging the $2.5 trillion annual funding shortfall experienced by developing countries in SDG-related sectors.
However, the benefits that FDI can produce for recipient countries are not automatic. The extent to which the positive effects are realized and the challenges and negative impacts avoided, depends on the policies and practices of governments and investors, and on the institutions available to find satisfactory outcomes for all stakeholders. Against this background, and guided by its five-pillar framework, CCSI works to provide the tools, research, and holistic support necessary to maximize the benefits of investment for sustainable development.