SEATINI Co-Organizes an Online Event on Redesigning Investment Governance
The scramble for foreign direct investment (FDI) is often driven by promises that investment liberalization will lead to increased investment, and increased investment will in turn lead to economic growth, job creation, technology transfer, and a range of other purported benefits. Many governments continue to negotiate international investment treaties (IITs) that contain sweeping investor protections in an attempt to bring these promises to life. Current approaches to investment governance have also exacerbated and entrenched inequality, providing outsized benefits to investors along with privileged routes to remedy through investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) for alleged breaches of those protections.
On 14th October 2021, SEATINI Uganda together with the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and AfronomicsLaw held a virtual discussion and strategy meeting under the theme; ‘‘Organizing for Alternatives: Redesigning Investment Governance’’. The meeting was aimed at providing a platform for CSOs in Africa working on investment-related matters to discuss the changing international investment governance landscape and to explore connections between redesigning of the international investment regime and their work.
Prof. Olabisi D. Akinkugbe, Assistant Professor and the Viscount Bennett Professor of Law, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University noted that the current approaches to investment governance have led to entrenched inequality and outsized investor benefits.
Ms Jane Nalunga, Executive Director, SEATINI-Uganda emphasized that in order to rethink investment governance, there is need to first understand the dynamics around investment. She also emphasized the fact that there is no multilateral investment agreement in the World Trade Organization (WTO) apart from the Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs).
Chenai Makumba, Policy Research and Advocacy Manager, Tax Justice Network Africa emphasized that investments tend to undermine the ability of African Countries to raise Domestic Revenue partly due to tax incentives that take away avenues for countries to raise resources domestically.
While making her presentation, Ms Brenda Akankunda, Program Officer, Investments for Sustainable Development SEATINI Uganda noted that developing countries have taken steps to attract FDI through signing International Investment Agreements especially Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs). However, to address the issue of climate justice, it is important to incorporate the principles of climate justice within the domestic investment frameworks and beef up international institutions like the ICJ so as to uphold the Corporations accountable and align to the Polluter Pays Principle (PPP).
Martin Dietrich Brauch, Senior Legal and Economics Researcher, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment called on African governments to foster international cooperation in zero-carbon sectors including renewable generation (solar, wind, geothermal, and hydro), critical minerals, battery production, recycling among others.
The meeting revealed that investment governance is very vital to achieve sustainable development and thus the need for more engagements to address the challenges within the investment governance and to integrate them at the continental level.