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January 2018 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.


Upcoming Events

Announcements and Projects

CCSI Releases its 2016-2017 Annual Report
We are pleased to release our 2016-2017 Annual Report, highlighting our work and accomplishments from July 2016 through June 2017. During that time, while continuing to work on strengthening national and international legal and policy frameworks, we also: increased our focus on the concerns of local communities; took a closer look at the implications of climate change and climate action for investors, resource-rich countries and the investment regime; continued to research how host governments and communities can optimize the benefits of resource investments with respect to jobs, access to infrastructure and economic development; and launched a major effort to rethink how investment agreements shape sustainable development outcomes. The Annual Report illustrates the range of research, events, advisory projects, and trainings that CCSI hosted over the 2017 fiscal year.

Enrollment Open: Massive Open Online Course on Natural Resources for Sustainable Development
The challenges and opportunities for leveraging natural resources for sustainable development are as critical as ever, and CCSI is pleased to announce the relaunch of the free, popular massive open online course (MOOC) on Natural Resources for Sustainable Development: The Fundamentals of Oil, Gas and Mining Governance.  Now in its fourth edition, this joint course was developed by CCSI, the Natural Resource Governance Institute and the World Bank, and has enrolled thousands of participants from all over the world. This year's course has been updated with new content, and course materials are available in new languages for the upcoming semester that begins on February 5, 2018. For further information, to view the trailer, and to enroll, please visit here.

UK Government’s Continued Commitment to Extractive Industries Payment Disclosure Law
CCSI welcomes the recent and very positive signs coming from the UK government showcasing its commitment to transparency in extractive industries. See Theresa May’s office letter to Publish What You Pay UK here and the UK government’s recently published Anti-Corruption Strategy, which states that “as the UK develops its position as an independent trading nation [post-Brexit], [the UK will consider] how transparency and anti-corruption can best be supported through our bilateral and regional trade dialogues and trading agreements” (p. 54) and renews commitments to extractives transparency (pages 58-9). CCSI contributed to the campaign calling on the UK government to maintain its commitment as it was reviewing the implementation of its law. CCSI’s submission can be found here.

Comments on the World Bank’s Draft Guidance Note: Land Acquisition, Restrictions on Land Use and Involuntary Resettlement
In December 2017, CCSI sent comments to the World Bank regarding its Draft Guidance Note for Borrowers ESS5: Land Acquisition, Restrictions on Land Use and Involuntary Resettlement. The comments highlighted the Guidance Note’s: unsatisfactory description of affected persons and their rights, which undermines international consensus on land governance supported by the Bank; failure to provide guidance on aspects of involuntary resettlement and forced evictions, and to place rights-holders at the center of solutions; and incomplete discussion of retroactive applicability, which risks the Bank condoning actions that fail to meet requirements of the Safeguards. 

Training Module on Extractive Industries and Climate Change
CCSI has developed and integrated climate change as one of the core modules in its annual Executive Training on Extractive Industries and Sustainable Development. The session provides an introductory overview of the climate change impacts and the Paris Agreement, giving an overview of various policy developments driving the energy transition, the response of the private sector and the impacts of the transition on extractive industry investments and resource-rich developing countries. Now, a shortened version can be accessed on our website. CCSI has also developed additional material that can be adapted to different audiences and trainings.

Call for Papers: 2017 Yearbook on International Investment Law and Policy
CCSI is pleased to announce a call for papers for the 2017 edition of the Yearbook on International Investment Law and Policy. The Yearbook is published by Oxford University Press (OUP) in hardcopy, as an ebook, and as part of OUP’s Investment Claims online service. The Yearbook monitors current developments in international investment law and policy. Beginning with the 2017 edition, Part One will include succinct overviews of recent developments and trends in international investment treaties and treaty policy; investor-state dispute settlement; institutional developments; and developments relevant to particular regions or countries. Part Two will include detailed analyses or short think pieces on central thematic issues in the contemporary discussions on international investment law and policy. Original contributions to be considered for publication in the Yearbook are accepted on a rolling basis until February 1, 2018. For further information, please see our website.  


Blog: Investor-State Dispute Settlement: What Are We Trying to Achieve? Does ISDS Get Us There?
Lise Johnson, Brooke Skartvedt Guven, and Jesse Coleman’s blog, “Investor-State Dispute Settlement: What Are We Trying to Achieve? Does ISDS Get Us There?,” considers the commonly cited objectives of including investor-protections and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms in international investment treaties and analyzes whether ISDS is effective at actually achieving these objectives.

Blog: New York City Joins Growing Chorus on Divestment
In the blog “New York City Joins Growing Chorus on Divestment,” Nathan Lobel places Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to divest the New York City pension fund from the fossil fuel industry within the broader context of climate action and socially responsible investing. By announcing that the city would divest, as well as sue five oil majors for damage caused by climate change, New York City further shifts the mantle of climate leadership away from Washington and toward cities, states, NGOs, and corporations. 

Blog: Experts Examine Costs and Benefits of Investment Incentives
In light of recent news about incentives that states and cities are offering to Amazon to win its second headquarters site, Nathan Lobel takes a fresh look at Rethinking Investment Incentives: Trends and Policy Options, edited by Ana Teresa Tavares-Lehmann and CCSI's Perrine Toledano, Lise Johnson and Lisa Sachs (Columbia University Press, July 2016). In his blog, “Experts Examine Costs and Benefits of Investment Incentives,” Nathan traces key questions from the book that policymakers should be asking before offering incentives.

The Yearbook on International Investment Law and Policy 2015-2016
The Yearbook on International Investment Law and Policy monitors current developments in international investment law and policy, focusing (in Part One) on trends in foreign direct investment, international investment agreements, and investment disputes. Part Two, then, looks at central issues in the contemporary discussions on international investment law and policy. This volume includes a chapter by CCSI's Lisa Sachs, Lise Johnson and Jesse Coleman, with CCSI Fellow Kanika Gupta. subscribers will be able to access the Yearbook articles online soon at this link. For more information, please see our website.

Blog: Interview with Justine Sylvester on Land Contract Transparency and

CCSI spoke with Justine Sylvester of Village Focus International about land contract transparency in Laos and how can support civil society actors. The short interview was published on the Earth Institute's State of the Planet.  

International Gas Outlook and Implications for Developing Tanzania’s Gas Projects
In partnership with Uongozi – Tanzania, CCSI drafted a brief that reviews recent international gas developments and considers the implications for the development of proposed offshore gas projects in Tanzania. The report also outlines trade-offs that negotiators should consider as they seek to determine domestic gas allocation in contracts with extraction companies.

EMGP report on the Top 20 Brazilian Multinationals: A Long Way Out of the Crisis
The Center of International Financial Management Studies of the São Paulo School of Business Administration of Fundação Getulio Vargas, Brazil and CCSI have released “The Top 20 Brazilian Multinationals: A Long Way Out of the Crisis,” highlighting the activities of Brazil’s 20 largest non-financial multinational firms in 2016. Additional information on the Emerging Market Global Players Project, of which this publication is a part, can be found here.

A Comparative Overview of Legal Frameworks Governing Water Use and Waste Water Discharge in the Mining Sector
As part of a 3-year grant from Norges Bank Investment Management, CCSI worked with the Columbia Water Center to identify the water-related regulatory and social risks associated with copper and gold mining projects. For this project, CCSI conducted a review of the legal and regulatory frameworks governing the use and discharge of water in 12 resource rich jurisdictions. An overview of the findings was published in the Resources Policy Journal. The legal reviews of all 12 jurisdictions, complemented by interviews with mining company representatives working on water management issues, can be accessed here

Blog: CCSI at the 44th Plenary Session of the Committee on World Food Security
CCSI intern Sarah Cruz authored a short blog post summarizing a side event co-hosted by CCSI, the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network at the Committee on World Food Security’s 44th Plenary Session. The blog outlines remarks made by speakers regarding the impact of trade and investment regimes on achievement of food security and improvement of nutrition.  

Upcoming Events

February 6, 2018: Webinar on Civil Society Submissions in Investor-State Arbitration
CCSI, together with the International Institute for Environment and Development, is co-hosting a webinar to discuss how civil society groups can bring forward community perspectives, human rights and environmental issues in investor-state arbitrations. This online seminar is designed for civil society organizations in low- and middle-income countries that want to support communities whose livelihoods are affected by natural resource projects. Further information is available here. To join the webinar, email before February 1, 2018. 

Past Events

December 4-5 & 7-8, 2017: Workshops on Social Development Funds in Liberia and Sierra Leone
In collaboration with Oxfam IBIS, CCSI Legal Researcher Tehtena Mebratu-Tsegaye led a two-day workshop on County Social Development Funds for civil society organizations in Liberia, and a two-day workshop on Diamond Area Community Development Funds and Community Development Funds in Sierra Leone. The workshops were designed to equip members of civil society with knowledge on how the social development funds are designed and operate in Sierra Leone and Liberia respectively, in addition to considering the experiences of other countries. CCSI Senior Economics and Policy Researcher Nicolas Maennling led a similar training for civil society organizations in Mozambique in April 2017.

December 12, 2017: Presentation of and Negotiation Support Portal in Liberia
Tehtena also led a discussion hosted by Liberia’s National Investment Commission on CCSI’s online repository of publicly available land, agriculture, and forestry contracts: The forum included a discussion on lessons learned regarding contract transparency in Liberia, including: the benefits and challenges of such transparency for government representatives; the ways in which disclosed information is used by government representatives and other stakeholders; and how other governments could learn from Liberia’s experience. The Negotiation Support Portal, a resource developed by CCSI to support resource-rich countries plan, prepare for, negotiate, monitor, and implement large-scale investment projects was also presented.

December 14-15, 2017: Ethics in Action Symposium on Environmental Justice at the Vatican
Director Lisa Sachs participated in a two day symposium hosted by the Ethics in Action initiative at the Vatican. Ethics in Action brings together global religious and secular ethical leaders to develop a shared moral consensus on the challenges of sustainable development, and to convert this consensus into practical action. At this event, focused on environmental justice, Lisa presented on the constraints that the international investment system places on governments trying to protect their most vulnerable citizens from environmental degradation and climate disruption. The presentation is available here.


June – August 2018: Executive Trainings on Extractive Industries and Sustainable Development, Sustainable Investments in Agriculture and Investment Treaties and Arbitration for Government Officials

We are accepting applications for our three upcoming executive trainings: on Extractive Industries and Sustainable Development (June 4–15, 2018), Sustainable Investments in Agriculture (June 19–29, 2018) and Investment Treaties and Arbitration for Government Officials (July 30–August 9, 2018). 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, is available at the links above. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Participants will receive a Statement of Attendance from Columbia University.

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