Foreign direct investment (FDI) may play a key role in the global effort to shift towards a low-carbon economy. Multinational enterprises (MNEs) can contribute in several important ways to climate change mitigation, by introducing cleaner production processes in their domestic and foreign operations, by developing (and transferring internationally) low-carbon goods and services, by supplying financial resources and managerial skills to resource-constrained economies. On the other hand, the fact that firms are internationally mobile may limit the possibility to implement mitigation measures unilaterally (or allowing for common but differentiated responsibilities), due to concerns about competitiveness and leakage. The current debate is framed in terms of trade and climate change, while the role of FDI has been largely overlooked. However some of the major issues addressed in this debate, such as the international transfer of low-carbon technologies and carbon leakage, see the MNEs as prime actors. In order to design and implement effective mitigation policies it is thus important to add the FDI dimension, refocusing attention on how the behaviour of international corporations interacts with climate change policies.

Workshop Aims

  • Assess the recent evolution of research on FDI and climate change, by bringing together experts working in this area from different professional contexts (academia, international organisations, etc), and from different disciplinary backgrounds (economics, management; theoretical, applied research; etc.). Identify possible research synergies.
  • Deepen the understanding of the internal and external drivers of MNEs innovation and international location decisions, in the presence of climate change mitigation policies.
  • Address the pros and cons of different measures which may be introduced to stimulate a positive contribution of FDI to low-carbon growth.


After a review of the state of the art on FDI and climate change, the workshop will focus on three main issues:

  • FDI, climate change policy and the creation, international transfer and diffusion of low-carbon technologies. The emphasis will be on the role MNEs can play in the development of low carbon solutions and in transferring these capabilities across borders, considering both intra- and inter-company technology transfer.
  • FDI, climate change policy and international production relocation. The session will explore to what extent unilateral climate mitigation measures may lead national firms in carbon-intensive sectors to relocate factories (and thus emissions) to countries not taking comparable actions.
  • FDI policy and climate change policy. The discussion will focus on different government policies and international institutional frameworks that may hinder or promote the international transfer of low-carbon technologies via FDI.

Expected Results

  • Map the present status of research in this field.
  • Indicate the way forward, by identifying the gaps in research and the main questions which should be addressed.
  • Clarify the data availability and the shortcomings of existing data sources.


The event is organized by International Center for Climate Governance (a joint initiative of Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei and Fondazione Giorgio Cini) in collaboration with the Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change.

The workshop is open to a selected audience.