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March 2017 Newsletter
Dear Colleagues,

The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI) is pleased to update you on several events, recent publications and projects at the Center. Please check our website for more information about these and other activities.

Announcements and Projects
Upcoming Events Past Events Publications Executive Trainings In the News

Announcements and Projects

Conference Report: Climate Change and Sustainable Investment in Natural Resources
The eleventh annual Columbia International Investment Conference, which took place on November 2-3, 2016, at Columbia University, offered a high-level opportunity to discuss how countries can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement while also advancing the Sustainable Development Goals. The important implications for the world’s approach to natural resource investments were debated by nearly 400 participants, including leaders from government, the private sector, civil society, and academia. A short document, which was disseminated at COP22, provides a concise set of takeaways from the Conference and can be found here. A longer, more detailed conference report has been recently prepared and is available here

New Thematic Portfolio on Land and Investments
In partnership with CCSI, the Land Portal Foundation has launched a Thematic Portfolio on Land & Investments, which includes a detailed narrative written by CCSI. The narrative provides an overview of the relationship between land tenure and land investments, the international standards on land investments and the ongoing challenges associated with ensuring responsible investment, as well as initiatives aimed at increasing investment transparency. The portfolio also includes relevant indicators, maps and media. A press release announcing the launch is available here

Compare Contracts on Using Powerful Tool
Almost one third of the 1,450 contracts on ResourceContracts feature annotations that provide plain language summaries of each contract’s key environmental, social, fiscal, and operational provisions. These annotations don't just make the terms of contracts clearer; they provide points of comparison between different contracts, making it easier to find similarities, trends and telling differences. now features the ResourceContracts Clips tool. This new feature lets you select and compare annotations from one or more contracts in ResourceContracts, view them side by side, or save or print them to compare offline. This blog by the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) provides useful information about this new comparison tool.

Tunisia’s ResourceContracts Site Updated With Annotations
In October 2016, Tunisia’s Ministry of Industry, Energy, Mines and Renewable Energies launched a ResourceContracts site, responding to civil society demand for enhanced transparency in the extractive industries. In December 2016, CCSI trained two Tunisian legal experts on the annotation process. The contracts for annotation were selected using the criteria of relevance (e.g., the project is presently operational); presence in public debate; and addition to diversity of contract forms (e.g., concessions, profit sharing contracts, joint venture contracts). By the end of January 2017, the two experts had annotated 63 hydrocarbon contracts. The full account of Tunsia’s ResourceContracts site is available here.

Tangible Contract Disclosure Progress in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Last year, CCSI, NRGI and the Ministry of Mines and Cellule Technique de Coordination et de Planification Minière of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) made a commitment to develop a ResourceContracts country website that would provide a publicly accessible open data platform of mining and hydrocarbon contracts with associated documents. In February 2017, CCSI staff completed the annotation of 68 contracts by adding summaries of the key contract terms. In early March 2017 a further 44 mining contracts were published and the ResourceContracts DRC country site was formally launched in French and English. The site reflects the DRC’s commitment to transparency and good governance in the extractives sector, as a member of the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative. A blog by NRGI further details the DRC's progress and future steps. 

New Resources on the Negotiation Support Portal
CCSI’s Negotiation Support Portal is designed to support host countries in their planning, preparation for, negotiation, monitoring, and implementation of complex investment projects. We are always updating and improving the Portal, and encourage readers to regularly engage with the wealth of resources, trainings, and support provider organizations which are constantly being updated and improved. New resources added this month include:
  • a guide on the tax aspects of a contract negotiation or renegotiation;
  • a manual on how to operationalize free, prior and informed consent in the context of projects that affect the lands, territories and resources of indigenous peoples;
  • a study that compares the legal regimes governing mining projects in 18 countries, and provides a close analysis of key contractual provisions; and
  • a tool to benchmark a country’s management of oil, gas and minerals against global best practices.
New Alumni and Participant Engagement Platform for Executive Trainings
This year, CCSI is utilizing a new platform for the Executive Training on Extractive Industries and Sustainable Development. In collaboration with the Minerals and Energy for Development Alliance (MEfDA), participants and alumni of the our executive training program will be able to connect via an online platform,, and engage with the “Global Mining and Energy for Development Community of Practice and Online Alumni Network” consisting of over 1800 alumni from throughout the world who have participated in mining and energy for development training programs.

This platform will enable engagement among peers with shared interests, provide access to new knowledge-building opportunities and enhance skills through networking and collaboration. It has a number of features including discussion forums, a Return to Work (RTW) component, a spotlight section, a library, and a member database. The RTW component helps participants track their progress on addressing a resource related problem in their community. For more information on the executive training, please go to our website here

Upcoming Events

March 20-24, 2017: CCSI at the World Bank Land and Poverty Conference
CCSI is participating in numerous panels and events at this year’s Land and Poverty Conference, in Washington, D.C. on March 20-24. For those who are planning to attend, please join us for a masterclass on Land Contracts: Tools and Strategies for Greater Transparency and More Responsible Investments, and panel presentations on:
April 26, 2017: Webinar on Using Tools to Advance Transparency in Land-Based Investments
CCSI and the Open Government Partnership’s (OGP) Openness in Natural Resources Working Group will host a webinar on Using Tools to Advance Transparency in Land-Based Investments on April 26, 2017, 9 am Eastern Standard Time. The webinar will feature a presentation by CCSI Legal Researcher Sam Szoke-Burke on and by World Resources Institute’s Jessica Webb on Global Forest Watch. The webinar is aimed at stakeholders—including representatives from government, civil society and the private sector—who work on, or are interested in, transparency around land use, land governance, and land investments. It will include a discussion on current trends, opportunities and challenges regarding land transparency and land investment, including how  and Global Forest Watch can be used to increase transparency and improve the implementation of land investments, before engaging in an interactive Q&A session with audience members. The webinar builds on last year’s OGP conference panel on “Improving Openness and Transparency in Land-Based Investments.”

May 11-12, 2017: Asia FDI Forum III: China-European Union Investment Relationships
Two global economic powers: the European Union (EU) and the People's Republic of China (PRC) started negotiating in 2014 what could be the largest Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) ever concluded.  A BIT between the EU and the PRC will cover the investment activity of two billion people, easily making it one of the most influential international investment treaties in the world. The Asia Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Forum III will gather top academia, government, corporate and civil society practitioners in Hong Kong to explore the various legal and policy implications of the treaty currently under negotiation, discuss regional investment trends and highlight specific features of China's and EU's investment treaties and policies. The event, supported by CCSI and the World Economic Forum, and organized by the Faculty of Law of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Centre for Financial Regulation and Economic Development and Tsinghua Law School, will produce attentive analysis and new proposals. 

Past Events

February 22, 2017: Sustainable Investment for Sustainable Development
Resident Senior Fellow Karl P. Sauvant is spearheading an effort to establish an indicative list of FDI sustainability characteristics, in a follow-up to a recommendation of the E15 Task Force on Investment Policies. In that context, he moderated a panel on “Sustainable Investment for Sustainable Development: Stakeholder Perspectives” during the Third Roundtable Trajectory on Investment for Sustainable Development: Sustainable Development Criteria for Investment, organized by International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development and the World Economic Forum in Geneva.

February 23, 2017: Trade, Investment, and Climate Change Under the Trump Administration: What Lies Ahead?
CCSI, along with the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the Environmental Law Society, hosted a panel discussion looking at how trade and investment policy may be reconciled with climate change imperatives and commitments, the trade risks the Trump administration’s climate policies present, and how the United States Trade Representative might approach these issues in new trade and investment (re)negotiations. A recording of the event is available here.

February 23, 2017: Uncertain Protection: Human Rights in Investment Law
CCSI’s Kaitlin Cordes spoke at Harvard Law School on a panel focused on human rights in investment law. Kaitlin provided global context on the tensions between human rights and investment legal regimes, presented findings from CCSI’s 2016 report on Land Deal Dilemmas: Grievances, Human Rights, and Investor Protections and discussed other work that the Center has undertaken on human rights issues in the international investment regime, including the Center’s application to file an amicus submission last year that incorporated human rights legal arguments.

February 23-24, 2017: Policy Reset: Trade Reset: Debating Proposals for a More Planet-Friendly Trade Model
CCSI and the Sierra Club hosted a two-day workshop at which participants, on day one, analyzed the Sierra Club’s Discussion Paper: A New Climate-Friendly Approach to Trade, and on day two, considered the enforcement of environmental commitments in free trade agreements, including lessons learned from existing agreements and options for future texts.
February 27, 2017: Developments in International Investment Agreements
The Government of Indonesia, in collaboration with CCSI, hosted a half-day event at Columbia University looking at recent developments in and the future of international investment agreements. The event focused on issues surrounding investment liberalization and considered the interaction of investment treaty protections with domestic laws of the host country. This event came at a time when governments around the world are facing complex and pressing issues related to attracting and governing sustainable FDI, including, in particular, with respect to the use and scope of international investment agreements.

March 7, 2017: Infrastructure Investment as a Policy Tool to Reduce Inequality
CCSI, along with the Economic and Political Development concentration of Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, hosted a presentation and discussion on challenges faced by US policymakers in addressing the urgent need to maintain and upgrade dilapidated infrastructure amid rising inequality. While governments often increase public spending on infrastructure to stimulate growth, the presenters argued that infrastructure investments through new sources of financing can also serve as an effective policy mechanism to reduce income inequality even when the economy is experiencing stable growth. The presentation was guided by their first-of-its-kind study on the topic, available here. Though US-centric in its focus, the discussion offered strategies for both industrially-advanced and developing economies to generate economic growth and reduce income inequality through sustainable infrastructure investments. 


Democratic Accountability and the Public Interest In Settling Investment Disputes
Head of Investment Law and Policy Lise Johnson and Legal Researcher Brooke Güven published an article in Investment Treaty News entitled The Settlement of Investment Disputes: A Discussion of Democratic Accountability and the Public Interest. In this article, the authors consider the threats to principles of good governance, including government accountability, respect for the rule of law, transparency, and respect for citizens’ rights and interests under domestic law and international human rights norms, that are posed by the settlement of treaty-based investor-state disputes. The authors also consider the exacerbated threats posed by the settlement of disputes that include government counterclaims, and highlight the need for the ISDS reform agenda to include a focus on these issues.

Executive Trainings

June-August 2017: Executive Trainings on Extractive Industries, Sustainable Investment in Agriculture, and Investment Arbitration
We are accepting applications for our three upcoming executive trainings: on Extractive Industries and Sustainable Development (June 5-16, 2017), Sustainable Investments in Agriculture (July 12-21, 2017), and Investment Arbitration for Government Officials (July 31-August 10, 2017). Each program is designed to equip participants with the necessary skills, analytical tools, and frameworks to address relevant challenges and opportunities, and to encourage a rich dialogue about best practices from around the globe. More information about each training, including brochures and applications, are available at the links above. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Participants will receive a Statement of Attendance from Columbia University.

In the News

How Investments in Agriculture Intersect with Human Rights
Kaitlin Cordes, Head of Land and Agriculture, was interviewed by Food Tank; the conversation profiled Kaitlin’s work with the Center, ranging from how the Sustainable Development Goals can support land tenure security to whether trade and investment treaties should be used to achieve sustainable development.

Calling on Congress to Keep Oil and Mining Disclosures
As implementation regulations of Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act were still pending in late 2015, CCSI submitted a letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, providing 7 reasons why it was of utmost importance to maintain company-specific, project-level payment disclosure when issuing the new rules of Section 1504; we argued that such disclosures can help create improved efficiency in capital markets. In the context of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) and the battle over the Trump administration's attempted repeal of Section 1504, Bloomberg reached out to Head of Extractive Industries Perrine Toledano to discuss the importance of country by country tax payment reporting for institutional investors. 

Environmental, Social and Governance Investing in the Trump Era
Senior Economics and Policy Researcher Nicolas Maennling was interviewed by Barron’s on how deregulations proposed by the Trump administration will likely impact Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investment trends. The article argues that due to increasing risks related to climate change and other ESG factors, investors may push for disclosures by companies even without government requirements. While deregulation may benefit companies that do not take sustainability into account in the short term, the increasing trend of investors using ESG filters will continue to grow. 
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