Consequences of crisis and the great re-think: COVID-19’s impact on energy investment, sustainability and the future of international investment agreements

April 10, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting disruptions are having a significant impact on the global economy and international investments. Various State measures to address the pandemic are leading to widespread economic disruptions across several industries, including the energy sector. The current crisis has impacted energy demand, disrupted the global supply chain and created financial uncertainty. The pandemic has exacerbated issues relating to health, the environment, labour and human rights in the energy sector. This article seeks to understand the pandemic’s impact in shaping future human rights policy in international investment law. This article analyses current drafting trends in international investment agreements (IIAs) in 2019–2020, particularly in the context of recent developments in sustainable development and human rights. Although there are some noteworthy developments in recent IIAs, the pandemic has highlighted the need for further treaty reforms. It provides an opportunity for policymakers and corporations alike to address human rights issues and to incorporate the principles of sustainable investment into IIAs. The energy sector in particular plays a significant role in promoting sustainable development and post-COVID policy reforms will be essential for future energy security and global stability. In conclusion, this article considers the future of potential reforms in the post-COVID recovery agenda while keeping in mind energy and climate goals.