Private sector urged to invest in sustainable development at World Investment Forum

Geneva, 13 October 2014 (UNCTAD press release) – World Investment Forum Opening

Leading members of the global investment community gathered to meet sustainable development stakeholders as the UNCTAD World Investment Forum commenced with a grand opening ceremony at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.

“There is a strong business case for investing in sustainability. Private sector approaches can help us to innovate,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a welcoming address delivered by video. “At the same time, collaboration and partnership can ensure that investment in sustainable development is inclusive and aligned with the priorities of countries. This Forum helps to forge such links.”

Mr. Ban added: “You have the opportunity to contribute to improved livelihoods and well-being for billions of people over decades to come.”

President of Switzerland Didier Burkhalter, co-host of the grand opening with UNCTAD and the Canton and city of Geneva, reiterated his Government’s support for the objectives of UNCTAD in mobilizing private sector funding for sustainable development in partnership with the public sector.

“We need a strong and realistic ‘business plan’ to finance fair and efficient sustainable development,” Mr. Burkhalter said. “The latest UNCTAD World Investment Report has shown this and proposed an action plan that offers a promising path and underlines the need for innovation.”

Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, Michael Møller, said that discussions at the Forum were “not merely technical debates [but went] to the heart” of the mission of the entire United Nations. He welcomed the opportunity that the Forum gave to “breaking down silos” between public and private stakeholders in development.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said that “already investors are more aware of opportunities in developing economies and, at the same time, countries are doing more to attract investment and ensure it makes a positive impact.”

“The Forum is an opportunity to consider solutions, to promote leadership in international investment and to influence the future direction of investing in sustainable development,” Dr. Kituyi said.

United Nations Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador and footballer Didier Drogba spoke about investment in infrastructure in his own country, Côte d’Ivoire, and held it up as an example of the need for investment in agricultural, demographic, industrial, educational and health care challenges in many countries.

“As much as we, people like myself, can do in raising charitable money and donations for these things, it will never be enough. We need real investment, on a solid economic basis, to make a real impact and to achieve the sustainable development goals.”

He addressed the participants at the opening by saying that “you have to get serious. I expect it from you… Make it happen.”

Mr. François Longchamp, President of the Council of the State of Geneva, and Inter-Parliamentary Union President, Abdelwahad Radi, were also present at the event. The Master of Ceremonies was James Zhan, Director, Division on Investment and Enterprise of UNCTAD.

The evening also saw the presentation of the Investment Promotion Awards 2014 and a musical performance by contemporary Swiss alphorn player and singer Eliana Burki.