Inspiration behind the 2017/2018 edition of the Stockholm Treaty Lab

Ambitious targets for curbing global warming were laid out in the 2015 Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. Targets that, if they were to be met, would require investments amounting to trillions of dollars across the globe. Renewable energy must become even more affordable and available; energy-efficient transportation would be needed to carry an increasingly mobile world population; sustainable agriculture and forest restoration must substitute unsustainable land use and deforestation; and climate-resilient infrastructures must be built where global warming and rising sea levels already put communities at risk.

To some extent, the technologies necessary already existed – solar and wind power, energy-efficient vehicles, and carbon capture and storage – but enormous investments were needed to deploy these on a meaningful scale. In other areas, existing technologies fell short, and investments must be made in innovation and development. Such “green” investments presented exciting and lucrative opportunities for investors.

Foreign investments tended to increase where they were protected by a stable and transparent legal framework, including a neutral and reliable enforcement mechanism. In the absence of such a framework, investors were often hesitant to deploy their funds. Yet no international legal instrument existed that specifically incentivized and protected green investments. It was against this background that the SCC and its partners launched the Stockholm Treaty Lab Prize  – an innovation prize that aimed to address the “policy gap” between the objectives of the international climate change agreements, and the outcomes that those agreements envisioned.

The Stockholm Treaty Lab targeted contestant teams that draft a forward-looking, innovative and workable model treaty that aimed to encourage investment in climate change mitigation and adaptation. A treaty that, if implemented, would create transparent, stable and enforceable investment policy regimes. A treaty that had the potential to encourage investors to fund low-carbon projects, support technological innovation, and otherwise invest in a sustainable future. 

We believed that in order to be successful, contestant teams must be multidisciplinary – and include lawyers, economists, scientists, and climate change experts. We envisioned that teams would draw inspiration from the existing regime of international investment agreements, which encouraged foreign investments by ensuring market liberalization, fair treatment of investors, and neutral enforcement through arbitration. But we hoped that contestant teams will use their combined expertise to think outside of the box and draft creative and innovative treaties.

The 2017/2018 edition of the competition opened in 2017 and the outcome is announced in July 2018.