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Environmental Concerns in International Investment Agreements: A Survey


  • Kathryn Gordon


  • Joachim Pohl



International investment agreements define commitments on investment protection, but also shed light on how these commitments are to be integrated with other public policy objectives. Investment protection in the context of environmental regulation has been a frequent source of controversy and investor-state disputes. In order to enhance the factual basis for debate in this policy area, the present survey establishes a statistical portrait of governments’ investment treaty writing practices in relation to environmental concerns in a sample of 1,623 IIAs, roughly half of the global investment treaty population. The survey provides a statistical portrait of the extent, kind and frequency of treaty language referring to environmental concerns and the evolution of the use of such language over time. It shows that: i) over time, more treaties contain such language; ii) only about 8% of the sample treaties include references to environmental concerns; and iii) there are wide variations in the content of such language, both across countries and across time.

Suggested Citation

  • Kathryn Gordon & Joachim Pohl, 2011. "Environmental Concerns in International Investment Agreements: A Survey," OECD Working Papers on International Investment 2011/1, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:dafaaa:2011/1-en
    DOI: 10.1787/5kg9mq7scrjh-en

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    More about this item


    bilateral investment treaty; foreign investment; international investment; international investment law; regulation;

    JEL classification:

    • F02 - International Economics - - General - - - International Economic Order and Integration
    • F18 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Environment
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • F42 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Policy Coordination and Transmission
    • F53 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Agreements and Observance; International Organizations
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law
    • K33 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - International Law
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N50 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N70 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy


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