Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development

The IPFSD is a product of UNCTAD's accumulated expertise on national and international investment policymaking. It aims at making investment work for sustainable development and inclusive growth.

The IPFSD contains a set of "Core Principles" for investment policymaking and translates them into:

► Guidelines for National Investment Policies

► Options and provisions for the design and use of International Investment Agreements (IIAs)

Why is the IPFSD needed today?

The IPFSD is UNCTAD's response to a fast-evolving investment landscape, where new issues emerge due to the changing economic geography. It responds to questions of policy coherence and effectiveness, systemic flaws in the current system and the need to mainstream "sustainability" into investment policies.

Who benefits from the IPFSD?

The IPFSD is intended to be a point of reference for investment stakeholders. It consolidates a comprehensive list of options, providing guidelines and support for policy makers on how to shape modern investment policies.

What makes the IPFSD unique?

The IPFSD is an all-encompassing framework that takes into account the increasingly dynamic and broad spectrum of investment issues, by synergizing investment policies with a wider sustainable development dimension. It fosters interactions between the national and international levels of policy-making and coherence between investment and other policies (e.g. trade, competition, environment or social policies).


;cursor: default; width: 78.89940828402366px; height: 118px; float: left; margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;"The IPFSD is an extremely important document of UNCTAD, one that we have to help put into life and practice. It is all the more relevant in the wake of RIO+20, the world's re-commitment to the goals of sustainable development and a recognition of the absolutely crucial interdependence of the planet and the dangers that we face when we have imbalanced economic growth. The Investment Policy Framework is more important than ever."
Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on the Millennium Development Goals and Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University.

;cursor: default; width: 73.27272727272727px; height: 93px; float: left; margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;"UNCTAD provides the policy know-how for moving from the traditional investment model to the new sustainable development model." 
H.E. Rob Davies, Trade and Industry Minister of South Africa. [Full statement]


Core Principles for Investment Policy-making 

The Core Principles for Investment Policymaking aim to guide the development of national and international investment policy. They call for integrating investment policy into overall development strategies, enhancing sustainable development as part of investment policies, balancing rights and obligations of States and investors in the context of investment protection and promotion, incorporating corporate social responsibility into investment policymaking, and encouraging international cooperation on investment-related challenges. 


National Investment Policy Guidelines

The national investment policy guidelines convert the Core Principles for Investment Policymaking into specific policy advice. They are organized in four sections:

1. Strategic level, which aims to ensure integration of investment policy in overall development strategy

2. Investment policy ‘stricto sensu’

3. Investment-related policy areas including trade, taxation, labour and environmental regulations, or intellectual property policies

4. investment policy effectiveness.


Policy Options for International Investment Agreements

The policy options for international investment agreements present suggestions on how the Core Principles for Investment Policymaking could be reflected in international investment agreements (IIAs). To this end, the Framework contains a broad variety of policy options covering the whole range of policy issues dealt with in IIAs.

The IPFSD's compilation of policy options available to IIA negotiators includes both mainstream treaty approaches as well as more idiosyncratic language used by fewer countries and UNCTAD’s own suggestions to foster sustainable development.

Each section is accompanied by a brief commentary on the various drafting possibilities which highlights – where appropriate – implications for sustainable development.


Endorsements & Reviews

20 November 2013 - IPFSD, the UNCTAD Road Map to Spearhead Reform of the IIA Regime
DIAE Director James Zhan in a recent article in thetradebeat.com the trade policy portal for Southern and East Africa run by SAIIA, spelled out some of the problems facing the IIA regime and detailed the opportunities for reform offered by regionalism and the maturation dates of first generation treaties.

14 November 2013 - IPFSD - Basis for Methodology to Evaluate IIAs
The sustainable development (SD) principles that underpin the IPFSD, motivated think tank CIECODE to develop a methodology for the evaluation of the level of SD contained in BITs. The methodology was elaborated in a paper entitled "The incorporation of Human Rights Protection and Human Development Promotion in Spain’s BITs with Developing and Emerging Countries”. The paper is currently only available in Spanish, but is expected to be translated into English in 2014.

13 November 2013 - IPFSD Considered to Steer Change to IIA Regime
The IPFSD was mentioned as one of several recent documents that may help steer change to the shape and content of IIAs, in an article co-authored by J. Gaffney and J. Sarvanantham, published in the Columbia FDI Perspective No 108.

17 September 2013 - An International Investment Policy Landscape in Transition (Hamed El-Kady)
In an article published in Transnational Dispute Management (TDM), the author sheds light on key trends in regional investment policy-making and suggests IPFSD as a tool for countries negotiating regional IIAs.

9 September 2013 - IPFSD informs discussion on Perú's investment policy
In an article entitled "El Derecho Internacional de las Inversiones y el Arbitraje en Inversiones, retos y desafíos para el Perú" in the Fifth Volume of the Lima Arbitration Journal, Franz Kundmüller extensively cites the IPFSD to illustrate a growing trend for negotiators to include sustainable development elements in new IIAs. The author argues in favour of regulatory space for countries to pursue policy objectives. The article focuses on Peru's ability to attract FDI in a changing, complex IIA landscape. It also makes reference to UNCTAD's IIA database and the 2011 UNCTAD Best Practices Report "How to Prevent and Manage Investor-State Disputes: Lessons from Perú".

18 July 2013 - WEF Report cites IPFSD importance in IIA regime evolution
A World Economic Forum report on The Case for a Multilateral Agreement on Investment, published in June 2013, makes ample reference to UNCTAD's policy recommendations in the area of IIAs reform. The report, notably, cites UNCTAD's pro-development regulatory proposals, as set out in the IPFSD. The report also details UNCTAD's proposals for incorporating CSR principles into investment agreements. UNCTAD's IIA reform proposals are singled out by the WEF report as "significant work" that could help advance a multilateral approach to IIAs "by providing political and strategic direction".

10 July 2013 - UNCTAD's Role in addressing Investment Trends and Challenges (Elisabeth Tuerk and Diana Rosert)
In an article published in the European Handbook of International Economic Law, the authors offer an overview of UNCTAD's historical evolution and organizational structure, highlighting the organization's contribution to knowledge building and how it has adapted to the changing global context of development policy-making. They present UNCTAD's IPFSD as a new, dynamic tool to include sustainable development in investment-policy making.

8 May 2013 - IPFSD as a Tool to Manage the Complexity of IIA-making (by Stephan Schill and Marc Jacob)
In their article published on the Columbia FDI Perspectives, the authors highlight the importance of the efforts to think about national and international investment policy in global and systemic terms and attempts to offer a toolbox for states with which to implement and adjust policies to individual needs.

2 April 2013 - IPFSD’s Policy Options Regarding IIA Remedies are Highlighted (by Margaret Devaney)
In the March edition of ITN Quarterly, the author  welcomes the IPFSD’s remedies-related suggestions as opening for discussion the role of remedies in investor-State arbitration from a public interest/sustainable development perspective. [Article]

28 March 2013 - UNCTAD's IPFSD Praised at COMESA/IISD Workshop in Lusaka, Zambia (by Andrea Saldarriaga )
Dr. Andrea Saldarriaga underlined the utility of the IPFSD and  presented it as a tool to aid investment policymaking. The contributions elicited active discussion about the IPFSD and several COMESA States requested follow-up actions for capacity-building and technical assistance, particularly in relation to operationalising the IPFSD.

26 March 2013 - The IPFSD Featured Prominently in Several Presentations at International Workshops
At the African International Economic Law Network Conference (7-8 March) and theFrankfurt Investment Law Workshop (22-23 March) the IPFSD was highlighted as a particularly useful vehicle to help reconcile investment and development objectives and a credible guideline for countries that wish to renegotiate their bilateral investment treaties.

25 March 2013 - IPFSD Contributing to Better International Guidance (by Lorenzo Cotula)
Dr. Lorenzo Cotula, in an article for the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), discusses positive developments in the formulation of bilateral trade and investment agreements involving African countries and cites IPFSD as contributing to "better international guidance" resulting in a "changing global context" for investment treaty making.

13 March 2013 – Integrating IPFSD into the Post-2015 Development Agenda (by Rick Rowden)
In an article for the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) discussing current efforts by international donor agencies to draft proposals for the post-2015 global development paradigm that will follow the Millennium Development Goals, Rick Rowden calls for the integration of IPFSD core principles into the next global development framework.

6 March 2013 - Sustainable-development Features of Existing and Future EU International Investment Agreements (by Sergey Ripinsky and Diana Rosert)
In an article published in the special issue of Transnational Dispute Management, the authors use UNCTAD's IPFSD as the base to formulate a list of desirable sustainable-development features of an investment agreement, applying then these criteria to examine the IIA record of the European Union and its Member States and making proposals for the future EU-wide investment treaties.

17 January 2013 - Potential and Issues for Improvement of UNCTAD's IPFSD (by Aldo Caliari)
In the January edition of ITN Quartely, the director of the Rethinking Bretton Woods Project undertakes a thorough review of the IPFSD. While he points out tensions between specific core principles and suggests improvements, Aldo Caliari emphasizes that UNCTAD's policy options for IIAs contribute to a stakeholder debate that can promote a new paradigm for sustainable development-friendly investment. [Publication - Feature 4]

27 December 2012 - Auslandsinvestitionen als Motor für nachhaltige Entwicklung (by Elisabeth Tuerk and Anna Lisa Brahms)
The journal Wirtschaftspolitische Blätter, a quarterly publication by the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, published an article on UNCTAD's IPFSD that targets the German speaking investment community in its 03/2012 issue. The article written by Elisabeth Tuerk and Anna Lisa Brahms discusses the value added of UNCTAD's newly developed guidelines and options for investment policymaking. The full text in German is available here.

29 November 2012 - COMESA Praises UNCTAD's IPFSD
"I am happy and confident that UNCTAD's Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development will provide new insights in line with the new generation of international investment rules", said Thierry Kalonji, Ag Director - Investment Promotion and Private Sector Development, COMESA.

27 November 2012 - Islamic Development Bank Supports Policy Options Provided in the IPFSD
"The IPFSD undoubtedly improves the international investment landscape by providing policy options that are designed to make foreign investment work towards a country's development goals", said Dr. Abderrahman El Glaoui, Officer in Charge of the Islamic Development Bank, during UNCTAD's workshop on International Investment Policies in Casablanca, Morocco (19-23 November 2012). [Event Info]

5 November 2012 - Latest Columbia FDI Perspectives Points to Gaps in the IPFSD (by John M. Kline)
While applauding the IPFSD for providing a starting point to foster FDI for sustainable development, John Kline, in his article, suggests a possible improvement of the IPFSD by proposing a project assessment matrix to evaluate the sustainability impact of FDI.

  30 October 2012 - Towards A New Generation of Investment Policies (by Elisabeth Tuerk and Faraz Rojid)
The Investment treaty News Quarterly (ITN), a journal on investment law and policy, featured the IPFSD in its October 2012 issue. The 3-page article provided an overview of the origin of the framework, and highlighted its objectives, structure and content. [
Publication - Feature 3]

11 October 2012 - IPFSD to be Used in Future Egyptian BITs
“IPFSD will allow us to formulate IIA provisions in line with our priorities and needs. We look forward to working with UNCTAD to operationalize some IPFSD elements in our future BITs", said  Mrs. Eman GamalSaid, Under-Secretary Of State, Head of the International Cooperation Department, General Authority for Investment & Free Zones (GAFI), during a meeting with UNCTAD staff in Cairo, Egypt on 11 October 2012.

10 October 2012 - IPFSD Contribution Highly Appreciated by CRCICA Director
"IPFSD’s contribution to the development dimension of IIAs and ISDS is highly appreciated, especially at the present time. We are particularly pleased with the options to encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution methods”, said Dr. Mohamed Abdel Raouf, Director, Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA) at the Euro-Arab investor-State dispute settlement conference (Cairo, 10-11 October 2012). [More]

2 October 2012 - IPFSD-based Training Course for Latin American Countries Anticipated
"IPFSD has been a great tool to my work, and we are looking forward to the IPFSD-based training course for Latin American countries later this year", said Nicolas Lopez, IIA negotiator in the Colombian Ministry of Trade, during the IPFSD discussion at the margins of the UNCITRAL’s Working Group II in Vienna.

1 October 2012 - Fair and Equitable Treatment (FET) Policy Options Reviewed (by Andrea Saldarriaga)
The review acknowledges the value of UNCTAD's publications, including the recently launched IPFSD and notes that they provide highly relevant materials and tools for countries who have recently became signatories to IIAs. Published in the Revista Internacional de Arbitraje No. 16 (January-June 2012, P. 203-207, Co-Edited by: Universidad Sergio Arboleda, Comité Colombiano de Arbitraje and Legis Editores S.A, the copyright owners). See the Pink Series Sequel on FET.

24 September 2012 - UNCTAD's 59th Trade and Development Board Discusses IPFSD
The IPFSD was reviewed by panelists H.E. Rob Davies's, SA Minster of Trade and Industry [Statement], H.E. Anabel González Costa-Rican Minister of Foreign Trade [Statement] and Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on the Millennium Development Goals and Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, on the occasion of UNCTAD's 59th Trade and Development Board

24 September 2012 - The Other Half of Investment Promotion (by Lise Johnson)
In the Columbia FDI Perspectives N° 79, she notes that the IPFSD highlights the importance of host-country measures (HCMs) as tools for encouraging FDI and economic cooperation that can lead to sustainable development. Read more [here]

12 September 2012 - The IPFSD Gathers Support and Praises in China
The IPFSD was praised and gathered support in Xiamen during the launching of the Chinese Version of the World Investment Report 2012, on Sunday, 9 September 2012. [Event]

10 September 2012 - Rethinking Bretton Woods: UNCTAD releases the IPFSD
Aldo Caliari from the Center of Concern (CoC) notes that UNCTAD should be given credit for guidelines that will come as very handy in ensuring investment promotes sustainable development, but also suggests improvements. Read it on the blogs of the Center of Concern or the Network for Justice in Global Investment.

6 August - IPFSD Recognized as Important Tool for SADC Member States
"With its focus on developing investment policy options that promote sustainable development and inclusive growth, UNCTAD's IPFSD has been an important tool for our Member States' discussions on the new SADC Model BIT," said Ms. Hennie Erasmus, Investment Advisor at the SADC Secretariat, during the joint SADC-IISD Workshop in Pretoria. [Event] [Photo]

August 2012 Neuorientierung globaler Investitionspolitik? Die UNCTAD-Leitplanken für nachhaltige Entwicklung (by Anna Lisa Brahms)
Offering the first German overview of UNCTAD’s IPFSD, Anna Lisa Brahms highlights the key features of the chapter IV of WIR 2012 in one of Germany’s key newsletter on global economic and development issues. See the [Informationsbrief Weltwirtschaft & Entwicklung]

26 July 2012 - South Africa's Trade and Industry Minister Praises UNCTAD's IPFSD at Launch in Johannesburg
The Minister was speaking at the launch of the framework at the Mandela Institute which was attended by more than 100 participants from government, the media, the private sector, and academia. [Statement] [Event] [More]

20 July 2012 - UNCTAD's Ranking of Foreign Direct Investment is Cause for Celebration
Jonathan Glennie refers to UNCTAD's efforts through IPFSD to focus on balancing the rights of investors with the need for the State to take an active role to ensure investments benefit society. Read more [here]

15 July 2012 - UNCTAD Launches IPFSD
Ghana Business News acknowledges the IPFSD as providing guidance for policymakers in their efforts to promote investment for sustainable development. Read more [here]

12 July 2012 UNCTAD’s WIR Highlights Sustainable Development
The Global Environmental Governance Project at the University of Massachusetts recognizes the WIR 2012 for presenting the IPFSD and incorporating sustainable development in national investment policies. Read more [here]

11 July 2012 - UNCTAD's WIR Highlights IPFSD
The Small Island Developing States Network (SIDS Net) recognizes the WIR 2012 and the IPFSD for their efforts to increase the recognition of sustainable development objectives in both national policy frameworks and IIAs. Read more [here]

10 July 2012 - IPFSD Fills Huge Analytical Gap, Says UNEP
"The IPFSD couldn’t have come at a better time. It will be a valuable resource for governments, and I will be encouraging UNEP to utilize this resource in our national level green economy advisory services", said Mr. Benjammin Simmons, Head of the Trade, Policy and Planning Unit, United Nation Environmental Programme (UNEP) noted the 10 July 2012 IPFSD stakeholder launch. [Video]

9 July 2012 - UNCTAD Flagship Report Introduces the New IPFSD
The Council for Multilateral Business Diplomacy (CMBD) reviews the 2012 WIR and notes IPFSD as a constructive approach to integrating investment policy into development strategy. Read more [here]

9 July 2012 - Towards a New Generation of Investment Policies
Justmeans (a blog on the Sustainable Business Industry) considers IPFSD as a welcomed tool for policymakers and urges them to take advantage of it. Read more [here]

5 July 2012 - Towards a New Generation of Investment Policies
Karsten Weitzenegger Consulting reports on the WIR 2012, with special mention on investment policymaking and the IPFSD. Read more [here]

5 July 2012 - Launch of UNCTAD’s WIR 2012 in Bangkok, Thailand
The International Institute for Trade and Development (ITD) reports that the launch of WIR 2012 and the IPFSD in Bangkok, Thailand, garnered great support from stakeholders. Read more [here]

28 June 2012 - Funds Transfer Restrictions and Sustainable Development: Policy Options from UNCTAD’s IPFSD (by Elisabeth Tuerk and Cree Jones)
Responding to the growing concerns about free transfer of funds clauses that lack appropriate safeguards, the authors propose IPFSD-based policy options. See the paper published by the Globalization and Finance Project, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. Read more [here

12 June 2012 - UNCTAD Presents New IPFSD
The International Institute for Sustainable Development (ISSD) showcases the IPFSD, noting its support for new-generation investment policies that focus on inclusive growth and sustainable development. Read more [here]