UNCTAD’s 8th World Investment Forum was held in Abu Dhabi from October 16-20, 2023. The event brought together 8,000 participants including government officials, international organization representatives, policymakers, investors, sovereign wealth funds managers, key capital markets actors, and academics. Designed to facilitate dialogue and action on the world’s current and emerging investment-development challenges, the Forum discussed the need to invest in food security, energy, health, supply chain resilience and productive capacity growth in the poorest countries. All of these themes were brought together under an conference program centered on the theme of “Investing for Sustainable Development.”

Since 2014, AIB has partnered with UNCTAD in this bi-annual forum, helping to design the academic part of the Forum and presenting papers and panels as part of the program.  This is one of the ways AIB has been promoting policy-related research in international business. Ari Van Assche and Rob Grosse led the AIB effort in planning and participating in an expanded number of activities in this year’s Forum.

AIB was well represented at the conference, with 16 members participating in high-level panels. Ari Van Assche represented AIB in the academic opening panel whereas Sarianna Lundan, Paul Vaaler and Xiaolan Fu took part in the closing academic panel. AIB also organized four panels in the academic track (co-organized by Rob Grosse and Ari Van Assche) that aimed to distill and transfer new research insights to the practitioner communities. Younger and more senior scholars participated in these sessions.  “Fire-side chats” were used to offer an AIB scholar and a business practitioner or government policymaker the opportunity to informally discuss a topic in the broad area of Investment in Sustainable Development in front of an audience.

Prior to the Forum, AIB issued a call for proposed Ph.D. theses related to the conference theme.  Four promising Ph.D. students received AIB support to attend the conference, and they were joined by two additional Ph.D. candidates from the AIB community. All six students presented their work in poster sessions, and they assisted the academic program management during the week, including the staffing of the AIB booth.

Kristin Brandl has been spending a part of her sabbatical at UNCTAD in Geneva, and she has been instrumental in the planning and operation of the AIB activities (among other things).  She did a fantastic job in that role, demonstrating AIB’s commitment to this IB policy sphere.  Huge thanks to Kristin!

The World Investment Forum provided AIB with a platform to showcase its presence in the investment policy arena. It also enabled the AIB professors and Ph.D. students who attended the conference to participate in other sessions involving government policymakers and business leaders. We are grateful to James Zhan, Richard Bolwijn, and Amelia Santos-Paulino from UNCTAD for giving AIB the opportunity to actively participate in the conference. We look forward to the next Forum in 2025.

This conference report was written and edited by Robert Grosse and Ari Van Assche for inclusion in the 31 October 2023 edition of the AIB Newsletter.