Abu Dhabi, UAE-: The 8th World Investment Forum (WIF), organised by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), officially opened today at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center. The inaugural session of this premier investment event, which will run until October 20, united the Heads of States, Ministers, business leaders, eminent investors, and decision-makers to address urgent investment challenges spurred by ongoing global crises.
The world is changing at an unprecedented pace, and new investment challenges and opportunities are emerging daily. In response, here in the UAE we continue to advance our ambitions of economic diversification alongside digital transformation, as we evolve into a leading knowledge and innovation-based economy underscored by a committed sustainable economic growth” said His Excellency Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, emphasizing the leading role the UAE plays on the global investment stage.
“In pursuit of these goals, engaging with and building strong partnerships with global leaders and decision-makers is an essential part of our strategy. We aim to leverage global trade, attract investments, and enhance international cooperation to ensure a sustainable and prosperous economic future that serves the UAE and its partners in the international community,” H.E. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi added.
His Excellency Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), said: “Selecting Abu Dhabi to host the WIF is a reflection of the prominent role the UAE has come to play in leading global conversations on sustainable development and investment. Abu Dhabi provides an effective global platform for international talents, leaders, and investors. We are proud to partner with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to organise the World Investment Forum as we unite with a common goal to foster collaboration, strengthen economic partnerships, and tackle the pressing global challenges of our era”.
“Our conversations today to address challenges and develop solutions for priority issues in global investment and trade will feed into negotiations at COP28 scheduled for late November in the UAE. There could be no location more fitting for this event than the UAE, an economy that is going through rapid transformation as it is forging ahead with diversification efforts, enhancing global connectivity and trade partnerships, as well as transforming into an increasingly sustainable and renewable energy-based economy. We are dedicated to build bridges between nations and foster economic relationships to unlock a world of opportunities for all” H.E. Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi added.
Expressing her gratitude to open the summit of the World Investment Forum 2023, Ms. Rebecca Gryspan, Secretary General, UNCTAD, said, “This forum is a global platform where you the leaders of government and businesses, experts and stakeholders converge to address the critical nexus between investment in sustainable development. Abu Dhabi being an excellent host, provides an idea in the backdrop for our discussions with its forward-thinking policies, modern infrastructure and strategic locations. UAE serves as the beacon of progress in the region and beyond. Talking about the various causes of sufferings of people from cascading economic shocks, COVID-19, unrelenting climate disasters, war, to geopolitics, an unbearable death burdens are crashing the very fabric of our global society. Speaking of the common agenda we drafted in 2015 amongst which only 50% of the SDG’s are on target to be met by 2030. There is huge amount of investment gap that needs to be filled in and this is the forum we need to find solutions to fill in the SDG investment gap.”
The opening ceremony of the 8th edition of WIF was followed by the ‘Global Leaders Investment Summit 2023’, shedding light on the urgent need to invest in key sectors such as food security, energy transition, health systems, supply chain resilience, and enhancing productive capacity in the world’s most impoverished nations. Discussions were steered by critical questions concerning the impacts of recent food, fuel, and finance crises on international investment, and the role of international finance and cross-border investment in shaping a more inclusive and resilient global future.
The first session of the Global Leaders Investment Summit witnessed a series of thought-provoking sessions, where leaders including H.E. Mr. José Ramos-Horta, President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, and H.E. Mr. Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, President of Togo, among others, shared their perspectives on global developments and their implications for sustainable investment. In the second session Ms. Rebeca Grynspan, UNCTAD Secretary-General, and Mr. Obaïd Amrane, Chair, International Forum of the Sovereign Wealth Funds, Morocco, among others held insightful discussions on investment-related topics, with an interactive Q&A session that allowed participants to delve deeper into the themes related to the guiding questions. The summit concluded with a summarization of the debate by the UNCTAD Secretary-General, encapsulating the insights and perspectives shared during the discourse.
In a related context, a seminar on the development of sustainability reporting standards in the public sector in partnership with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) discussed best global practices in the field. Distinguished stakeholders participated, including Alex Metcalfe, Head of Public Sector, ACCA, Ross Smith, Program and Technical Director of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSASB), and Maggie McGhee, Executive Director for Strategy and Governance at ACCA, among others.
The opening day of WIF also saw the Foreign Direct Investment Statistics Conference in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries. This provided an opportunity for experts to highlight the importance of raising awareness of the latest standards for collecting data on foreign direct investment activities, including clarifying definitions and methodologies in FDI statistics, and providing insights into OIC-specific challenges such as corporate restructuring, identifying end investors, and different forms of participation.
Day one also saw the hosting of the “G8 Economic Cooperation – UNCTAD Guiding Principles for Investment” conference, where participants discussed current international investment agreements in the G8 member states. The session focused on how countries can enhance regional dialogue and coordination on comprehensive reform of international investment agreements, including soft policy tools, in particular the Guiding Principles, and learnings from other regions around the world.
It is worth noting that the World Investment Forum, through events like the Promotion of Investment in the Blue Economy, the Forum on Investment in Agricultural Systems, the Financing Equitable Energy Transition Partnerships: Perspectives from Vietnam, Indonesia and South Africa conference, the Academic Track Conference, and the Global Leaders Investment Summit, continues to fortify its commitment to fostering dialogues that not only explore the challenges of the present but also pave the way for a future where investment and development walk hand in hand towards sustainability, inclusivity, and resilience.