UNCTAD's Division on Investment and Enterprise (DIAE): Past, Present and Future for Contributing to SDGs

July 13, 2023

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is a knowledge-based inter-governmental agency within the UN secretariat that works in the realm of trade and development. It focuses on issues related to technology, investment and sustainable development via research & analysis, technical cooperation, and consensus-building in the global community.

Its Division on Investment and Enterprise (DIAE) is responsible for managing UNCTAD’s subprogramme 2 (SP2) on Investment and Enterprise which works “To advance inclusive growth and sustainable development through investment and enterprise development for productive capacity-building, economic diversification and job creation.”

While World Investment Forum and World Investment Report are its flagship products, it also provides other key services such as investment promotion reviews and international sustainability accounting standards.

This evaluation used a theory-based mixed methods approach to assess SP2’s work in relation to UNCTAD’s mandate and sustainable development goals against the criteria of relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, partnerships & coherence, sustainability & impact, and human rights, gender, inclusion, and equity.  

The evaluation shed light on SP2’s highly relevant and consistent work alongside their efficient use of allocated resources. SP2’s initiatives have resulted in a better understanding of investment trends, improved investment policies for member states, and increased FDI inflows aligned with the development and growth priorities of member states. For example, about 140 countries, including regional economic organizations made use of SP2’s recommendations on International Investment Agreements (IIA) reforms to (re)design investment policies and IIA treaties. The evaluation also noted that SP2 had been highly successful in making use of external partnerships to increase collaboration between a variety of relevant stakeholders.

While the evaluation showcased the impact of SP2’s work, but it also identified room for improvement in terms of greater focus on gender integration and adopting more holistic approaches. DeftEdge also identified the need for increased integration of some aspects of equity and inclusion such as disability. The evaluation made six recommendations related to reviewing portfolio of products and services, impact assessments, coordination and collaborations, resource mobilization, communications, and equity and inclusion.  

The results of the evaluation will be presented at the annual meeting of the Trade and Development Board —UNCTAD’s governing body — in October 2023.


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