The contest required teams to draft an international treaty that, if adopted by states, would generate investments in climate change mitigation and adaptation. The challenge was accepted, through the crowdsourcing platform HeroX, by more than 20 teams from across the globe. Participants included not only lawyers, but also environmental scientists, policy advisers, entrepreneurs, climate diplomats, and experts in energy investment and sustainable finance.
“The fact that teams formed across borders and disciplines shows how crowdsourcing can draw on expertise from many different sources,” says jury member Annette Magnusson, who first conceived of the Treaty Lab in 2014. “We hope this way of generating innovation in international law will resonate with policy makers in the climate change arena,” she says.
The idea behind the Treaty Lab contest is that investment law and arbitration can be used to encourage foreign investment in green and sustainable technologies and services. To meet the global climate goals, enormous investments are needed in areas such as green aviation, carbon capture and storage, and renewable energy. But investors are often hesitant of these potentially lucrative opportunities because of the high risks involved.
“Treaties that incentivize and protect investments in other areas have been in place for decades, and now it’s time to figure out how to use this effective tool for the benefit of our global climate. This is what the Treaty Lab challenged the teams to do,” says Magnusson.
In assessing each contestant team’s submission, the jury considered whether the draft treaty was compatible with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, and whether it would, if adopted by states, help achieve the global climate-change objectives. The jury also assessed how each team balanced the states’ needs and interests against those of potential investors.
Magnusson explains, “To be effective, a treaty must offer investors incentives and protections, and an effective enforcement mechanism. And to be viable, the treaty must appeal to the states that are to adopt it. This is a hard balance to strike.”
Measuring the contestant submissions against these criteria, the jury decided not to select a grand prize winner, but rather to commend two teams for their unique approaches to the challenge. The Creative Disrupters team includes several members from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) as well as other researchers and practitioners. It comprises international lawyers (Martin Dietrich Brauch, Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder, Howard Mann, Mintewab Afework Abebe, Maria Bisila Torao Garcia, Temur Potaskaevi and Gus Van Harten), senior economists (Aaron Cosbey and Ivetta Gerasimchuk), policy advisers (Yanick Touchette, Lourdes Sanchez, Erica Petrofsky and Karin Treyer) and communications experts (Katherine Clark and Ziona Eyob). Team Innovate includes a legal academic, Jessica Howley, and international lawyers Paula Henin, Amelia Keene and Nicola Peart, as well as advisors from a range of other backgrounds.
Over the next few months, the innovative ideas proposed by the two standout teams will receive broad exposure at events in New York, Davos and Stockholm.
In early 2019, the Journal of International Arbitration will publish a special issue dedicated to promoting the innovative ideas that emerged from the Stockholm Treaty Lab contest.
The Stockholm Treaty Lab is an initiative of the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce. Partners include the International Bar Association, the Haga Initiative, and Stockholm Environment Institute.