The forum is a high-level biennial conference organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) for addressing investment-related issues.
Marking its 10th anniversary, it is always "convened at a critical moment, at times when investment policy-making is at crossroad", said James Zhan, director of the UNCTAD's Division on Investment and Enterprise, at a press conference in Geneva.
Recalling that the forum was organized in 2008 for the first time to deal with financial, fuel and food crises, Zhan underlined that the forum fulfilled, to certain extent, "the function of consensus-building at global level, on key emerging issues related to investment, and investment policy in particular".
This year's conference comes amid mounting disquiet about declining investment flows. UN statistics show that global flows of foreign direct investment fell by 23% in 2017. Cross-border investment in developed and transition economies dropped sharply, while growth was near zero in developing economies.
Zhan cautioned that investment policy-making community is faced with triple "mega-challenges", which are challenges of achieving UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), of adapting to new industrialization, and of counteracting the erosion of multilateral collaboration.
He acknowledged that a dilemma exists between the abundant capital liquidity and the significant shortage of investment in SDGs, with more investment policies "going towards the direction of beggar-thy-neighbor rather than prosper together".
It is, he said, necessary to attract private investment in SDGs sectors while ensuring that goods and services produced and provided by private sectors are "affordable and accessible" to the poor.
UNCTAD research suggests that private sector investment in developing countries totaling 3.9 trillion U.S. dollars a year is needed to generate economic activity to meet the SDGs, while current levels leave an investment gap of some 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars.
More than 5,000 participants from 160 countries, including fourteen heads of state and government, ministers of developed and developing countries, and heads of international organizations, will attend this year's forum, comprising some 60 events.
Besides giving participants a chance to spotlight priorities for attracting and channeling investment that will drive sustainable development, the forum sessions will also focus on transformative actions and innovative financing modes for development, such as blockchain, sustainability bonds and blended finance.