In order to effectively harness public funds and leverage them to support sustainable development, governments have to be strategic in their use of capital. This means ensuring that government funds are used to help compensate for market failures that lead to the underproduction of public goods. It also means ensuring that government funds are not used to provide redundant support for private actors and subsidize environmentally or socially harmful activities.
To achieve these policy objectives, governments need to be careful and deliberate in their use of investment incentives. Investment incentives, which may be defined (broadly) as nonmarket advantages used to influence the behavior of an economic actor, can represent significant costs to governments. These costs have the potential to generate various public benefits such as increased employment, development and dissemination of environmentally and socially sound technology, and other positive externalities. However, investment incentives are not often tailored or implemented in ways that ensure they produce the desired outcomes, or they do so at public costs that are less than their public benefits.
Investment incentives have the potential to advance sustainable development but can also be misused, undermining their goals, and wasting public funds. This report provides an overview of investment incentives, their policy implications, and strategies for understanding and managing their costs and benefits.
Lise Johnson & Perrine Toledano,
Investment Incentives: A Survey of Policies and Approaches for Sustainable Investment,
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/sustainable_investment/2