The 8th World Investment Forum (WIF) has launched today at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).

Spanning five days and concluding on 20 October 2023, the forum is gathering leaders, prominent investors, and stakeholders in the investment sector from around the world.

Established as a premier event by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the biennial WIF has historically served as the paramount platform for facilitating high-level discourse on the world’s most pressing investment development challenges. The forum is organised by UNCTAD’s Division on Investment and Enterprise, which seeks to ensure inclusive growth and sustainable development around the world.

Supported by the Ministry of Economy and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) as lead partner, the 8th edition of World Investment Forum’s theme is Investing in Sustainable Development, and is particularly prescient given prevailing global developments and challenges. From tackling food security issues and addressing energy needs to bolstering health infrastructure and ensuring supply chain resilience, WIF aims to provide solutions while maintaining sustainability at its core.

His Excellency Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said: “As a nation that values both economic growth and sustainability, the UAE is excited to host such an esteemed gathering of international leaders, policymakers, and prominent members of the global investment community. The World Investment Forum stands as a testament to the global community's resilience and dedication to forging a sustainable path forward, especially in the midst of several overlapping challenges. With the added focus on climate finance ahead of COP28, we are proud to be at the centre of these vital conversations.

“As we gear up for the forum, it's crucial to remember the essential role global trade plays in socio-economic growth, and its potential for driving sustainability. The recently unveiled UNCTAD World Investment Report 2023 only heightens our anticipation for the event. The UAE's record of AED84.4 billion foreign direct investment in 2022 showcases our nation's strong position in the investment realm, making the forum's Abu Dhabi edition even more significant.”

His Excellency Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), said: “Hosting the 8th World Investment Forum in Abu Dhabi reflects our leadership’s vision and unwavering commitment to enhance international cooperation and collective action to develop innovative solutions benefitting the global community. The forum provides a suitable platform for policymakers to formulate policies and strategies that will address key and emerging investment development issues, ensuring that today’s investments are geared towards a sustainable tomorrow.

“Abu Dhabi has nurtured a supportive business environment, unparalleled connectivity and infrastructure and an entrepreneurial mindset that presents investors with growth opportunities. We are leveraging on the strong fundamentals of our soaring Falcon Economy to achieve the UN sustainable development goals and contribute positively to shaping a brighter future for humanity.”

The biennial forum attracts more than 7,000 stakeholders from 160 countries, representing a diverse range of sectors – from heads of state and CEOs of multinational corporations to civil society representatives and the international media.

With COP28 discussions around the corner, the 2023 WIF edition has earmarked significant sessions for climate finance and investment. The forum aspires to create a synergistic environment where policymakers and stakeholders can align their strategies, with outcomes expected to significantly influence the COP negotiations.

One of the defining features of the WIF 2023 is its diverse array of opportunities tailored for participants. Attendees can look forward to a vibrant global networking environment, allowing them to mingle with top-tier investment professionals, share experiences, and forge potential collaborations. The forum will explore the intricacies of the global investment scene and the pressing challenges it currently faces. Participants can benefit from specialised workshops geared towards honing their skills with the latest investment promotion tools and strategies.

An exclusive workshop on the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation’s (IFRS) newly issued Sustainability Disclosure Standards, took place on 15 October as a pre-forum event. This initiative marked the ushering of a new era of sustainability-focused financial disclosures in global capital markets. Notable speakers including Jarlath Molloy, Director of Strategic Affairs (Internal Sustainability and Capacity Building), IFRS; and Lois Gutherie, Senior Technical Advisor, IFRS, provided attendees with insights into practical implementations of these standards.

The forum boasts various segments such as: the Investment Showcase, which emphasises sustainable development and fosters collaboration; Youth Forum sessions to champion the role of green industries and underscore the power of innovation and education; exclusive gatherings such as invite-only luncheons and summit roundtables; and symposiums and dialogues that promise in-depth discussions on sustainability standards and public-private partnerships.

The event will also comprise several specialised conferences, discussing topics from sustainable energy to entrepreneurship development. Interactive discussions will delve into areas like the carbon market and health investment trends. Wrapping up the forum's offerings are strategic initiatives, focusing on trade and investment policies, climate action, and innovative financial instruments targeting fossil-fuel assets.

Complementing the core events are a series of partner and side events designed to provide a holistic view of the investment landscape. Key highlights include the 2nd  Global Dialogue on COP28, co-hosted with the UAE and UNFCCC, and the Agrifood Forum in partnership with FAO. The Academic Conference, in collaboration with AIB and SIEL, will foster scholarly exchanges. To ensure that the forum addresses all facets of sustainable investment, there will be multiple tracks running concurrently that will delve into critical areas such as Climate Change, Energy Transition, Entrepreneurship, and Health. Other focused segments will address Gender, Technology, Industry, Infrastructure, and the nuances of Sustainable Finance, offering participants a comprehensive experience.

From its inception, WIF has evolved to bridge the investment institutional gap in global economic governance. Past editions in cities like Accra, Xiamen, Doha, Geneva, Nairobi, and an online session in 2021, have solidified its reputation. With the 2023 edition in Abu Dhabi, the forum looks to further its mission and offer actionable solutions to the world's investment community.