Category Archives: Hållbar utveckling och ISDS

Expertkonferens om investeringsskydd och hållbar ekonomisk utveckling

ISDShallbarutvDen 25-27 februari 2015 samlades fler än 250 experter från hela världen i Geneve för att diskutera hur systemet för investeringsskydd fungerar och kan vidareutvecklas.

Konferensen anordnades av United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) under rubriken ”Expert Meeting on the Transformation of the International Investment Agreement Regime: The Path Ahead”. Mer specifikt ville UNCTAD belysa hur investeringstraktaten kan främja investeringar som bidrar till en hållbar utveckling.

Diskussionen kretsade kring sakliga argument för vidareutvecklandet av investeringsskydd och ISDS. Istället för att fastna i det grunda samtalet om ISDS vara eller icke vara lyckades UNCTAD få deltagarna att dyka djupare ned i frågorna som kräver samarbete mellan, och förståelse för, både investerare och stater.

Majoriteten av deltagarna uttryckte en vilja att modernisera investeringstraktaten för att både säkerställa skydd för investeraren och locka utländska investeringar. Detta är inget nollsummespel; även om politiska företrädare ibland utmålar ökade investeringar och en hållbar ekonomisk utveckling som motsägelsefulla skeenden, råder det i verkligheten en interdependens mellan investerare och stater. Ökade investeringar kan helt enkelt leda till en hållbar ekonomisk utveckling.

The environment needs more investment protection – not less

Does investment protection represent a threat against the environment? On the contrary; there is a good argument to be made that investment protection – with the support of ISDS – can be used to enhance measures to mitigate climate change.

In a recent report by Calvert Investments, Ceres and the WWF global investments in renewable energy is discussed. In the report it is shown that a large number of the world’s biggest companies invest significantly in renewable energy as it simply makes good business sense. But the report also identifies several potential obstacles to these investments. In addressing the concerns, future investment protection treaties such as TTIP could play an important role, for example by safeguarding stable and predictable environments for investments in renewable energy.

The key point is this. Investment protection treaties offer states a great potential to set the standard for environmental development. While the substantive protection is important when drafting future treaties – what should states offer in order to attract investments in the renewable sector? – ISDS plays an integral part because having neutral, third-party adjudication is an essential aspect of providing confidence and security.

The potential to use investment treaties to combat climate change is currently discussed a lot in academic circles, but so far it has failed to enter the general public discussion. Let’s help each other – and the environment – by changing this and unlocking this potential for development.

ISDS is not a threat to environmental protection

Arguments against ISDS are triggered by assumptions and careless readings of the outcomes of some ‘controversial’ cases. In these cases – some of which do not even have an outcome yet – investors brought a claim against governments to ISDS stemming from environmental measures. Therefore, according to these arguments, ISDS as a whole is therefore a threat to environmental protection.

These assumptions are, at best, ignorant – at worse, false.

Investment agreements provide commitment of two (or more) governments to accord treatment according to international law to investors from its treaty partner. When an investor alleged that this standard of protection has not been fulfilled, it has the right to submit a claim to ISDS.

The fact that this claim may also cover those stemming from an environmental measure does not mean that governments cannot regulate for environmental protection.

First, ISDS as a legal procedural mechanism does not define policy. It does not regulate the substance of environmental regulation governments can have and levels of environmental standards governments can impose.

Second, in no case will the government be required to change its policy since ISDS do not provide injunction as a remedy.

Third, as a matter of fact, the number of cases stemming from measure with environmental motives has been small.

Fourth, the claims typically do not concern legislative acts.

Most of the challenged measures are administrative in nature, for instance treatment under certain permits, licenses and contracts which gives specific right to investors. When a government has given a specific right under an administrative instrument to a foreign investor, such investor has the right to reasonably rely upon it. As a matter of legal principle, the same right goes to any other actors, including a domestic investor.

Fifth, case law suggests that when environmental concerns have been found justified,  and investment protection standards were fulfilled, claims against governments have not been successful. Tribunals have found that governments do not have to compensate investors for  measures with justified environmental concern. This includes measures which are, among others, non-discriminatory, transparent, does not violate a specific commitment given by the government, and which are supported by a certain degree of scientific evidence (see among others, Methanex v US, Glamis Gold v US, Chemtura v US, Emilio Agustin Maffezini v Spain, Saar Papier v Poland available on italaw.com).

The chosen description of a claim as ‘environmental’ is not a decisive factor to assess whether ISDS poses a threat to environmental protection. It is the content that matters. As in any system governed by the rule of law.

SCC:s Annette Magnusson: Stater måste hållas ansvariga även inom miljöområdet

green forest background in a sunny day

I en debattartikel publicerad hos Miljöaktuellt skriver SCC:s generalsekreterare, Annette Magnusson, om frihandelsavtalet mellan EU och USA och om hur tvistlösningsverktyget ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) kan användas för att hjälpa det internationella miljöarbetet framåt.

“Den internationella miljörätten saknar på det stora hela effektiva verktyg för att sätta kännbar press på stater i frågor som rör hållbar utveckling och hejdad global uppvärmning. Det finns helt enkelt inget sätt att på allvar sätta kraft bakom orden i de internationella överenskommelserna. Att detta starkt begränsar miljömålens genomslagskraft på global nivå är uppenbart”, skriver Annette Magnusson.

Vidare skriver Magnusson att ISDS representerar en historisk möjlighet att  effektivt främja en global hållbar utveckling då det nu finns ett processuellt verktyg för att få detta att hända.

“Att avvisa den utveckling som ISDS står för vore en missad möjlighet för hållbar utveckling. Stater måste kunna hållas ansvariga, även inom miljöområdet”, skriver Annette Magnusson.

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