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9 May 2019  

Proposal for guiding principles on investment facilitation for sustainable development

The policy brief Towards G20 Guiding Principles on Investment Facilitation for Sustainable Development, published on the website of the Think 20 (T20) research and policy advice network, urges the Group of 20 (G20) countries to adopt guiding principles on investment facilitation. According to the brief, there is growing support for an international framework to facilitate investment for sustainable development. The brief defines investment facilitation as “an international framework of non-controversial, technical measures that can increase the quantity and quality of investment.” It argues that all countries can benefit from investment facilitation, but that least developed countries that often lack the capacity to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) have the most to gain. 

According to the authors, non-binding principles on investment facilitation can help to leverage investments that contribute to sustainable development, ensure that investment policies are transparent and effective while preserving policy space and sovereignty and support national efforts to attract investment and create an international framework that provides benchmarks and good practices.

The suggested principles outline how investment facilitation may: 1) be oriented towards practical and technical aspects and avoid controversial issues; 2) focus on sustainability considerations; 3) consider the entire life-cycle of investments; 4) benefit from multi-stakeholder processes; 5) ensure shared responsibilities among host country governments, home country governments, and investors; 6) encourage cooperative activities between home and host countries; 7) ensure participation by all government institutions dealing with investment; 8) be focused on national efforts but also include inclusive multilateral processes; and 9) include capacity building and allow for flexibility in the implementation of commitments.

Lawyer receives the Goldman Environmental Prize for protecting forest communities against unsustainable palm-oil investments

The environmental lawyer and activist Alfred Brownell has received the Goldman Environmental Prize for leading a campaign to stop illicit palm oil plantations in a 200 000 hectares large area in the Upper Guinean forest in West Africa. The forest is considered to be one of the world’s 25 most important biodiversity hotspots and an important carbon sink. It also provides important livelihoods for forest-dependent communities.

Brownell represented community members that were jailed during protests. He also mobilized civil society organizations and media to investigate illicit corporate conduct. During the campaign, the palm-oil investors allegedly harassed the local communities and threatened Brownell with violence. The companies behind the planned investments were members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), to which Brownell and community members filed complaints. Based on the complaints, RSPO investigated the situation and decided to issue stop-orders for the implementation of the palm-oil investments, mandating that the investors consulted with affected communities to obtain their consent and negotiate settlements.

Canadian farmland values grew by 6.6 percent during 2018

According to the annual FCC farmland values report from the agricultural lending institution Farm Credit Canada, the average farmland value in Canada grew by 6.6 percent during 2018, compared with 8.4 percent in 2017 and 7.9 percent in 2016. Expansion of landholdings by already large producers was an important driver for continued growth in farmland prices.

Large investment in paper mill and expansion of pulpwood plantations may intensify environmental destruction and conflicts according to activists

According to an article in Mongabay, a multinational paper company and its suppliers are involved in over a hundred land conflicts with communities in Sumatra. It is argued that the conflicts may contradict the company’s Forest Conservation Policy that states that it “will respect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, including recognition of customary land rights”. The concessions cover a combined area of 2 600 000 hectares, much of which overlaps with village land and ecologically sensitive peat forest areas.

The company is working to resolve the disputes but has stated that the process is long and complicated. According to the article, the involvement of government authorities is crucial for successful conflict resolution.

Meanwhile, the company has invested in a big new paper mill, which causes fear among environmental activists of further expansion of pulpwood plantations that may cause more environmental degradation and disputes.

Survey suggests that almost 2 in 3 institutional investors are willing to abide by the Sustainable Development Goals

According to the ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) Global Survey 2019, a survey of 347 institutional investors made by the bank BNP Paribas, over 65 percent of the participating institutional investors have begun to align their investments with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Institutional investors are increasingly incorporating ESG factors into financial analysis and investment decision-making to enhance returns and/or mitigate risk. Many institutional investors believe that investment that considers ESG issues will outperform other investments within the next five years. However, the survey also found that genuine ESG integration faces several barriers including a lack of reliable data, conflicting ESG ratings, costs required to invest in smart technologies, and the risk of greenwashing or deceptive marketing to promote the perception that certain investments are sustainable. 

 

 

 

 

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