Emerging from the coronavirus crisis is going to take deliberate political will, policy and more sustainable production that prioritizes both people and the planet, top trade leaders said at the second edition of the UN Trade Forum on 14 June.
The forum discussed pathways towards a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, while tackling the climate emergency.
“Climate change is increasingly defining us. We cannot afford to deal with it later,” said UNCTAD Acting Secretary-General, Isabelle Durant. “Climate change and environmental protection cannot be left out of any discussion on trade and development.”
Speaking at the forum, the Director-General of World Trade Organisation, Okonjo-Iweala said that, “How to address the immense problem in front of us is, however, divisive and contested. What we need is to adapt our rules to the new realities. We need to upgrade rules to foster trade and protect the planet,” she said opening the forum’s high-level segment.
“I really think there can be green and inclusive growth. But we need a transition period. We need to think about how we handle the transition of resource-rich countries that are dependent on fossil fuels, like mine Nigeria. It’s not overnight that you can transform everything,” she said, adding that the transition should be a just one.
To this end, the European Commission Executive vice-president and commissioner for trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, promised the European Union’s (EU) support for such a transition.
“The EU remains very attentive to the needs of developing countries,” he said.
“The EU has an ambitious domestic agenda, a green deal, but we are also strongly committed to supporting the green transition of developing countries in parallel with their integration into the world economy. This includes financial support and promoting climate project capacity building,” Mr. Dombrovskis said.
He added that the global climate ambition is a shared endeavour for both developed and developing countries, saying: “We need the world fully onboard.”
Discussions at the forum also underscored the need for policy coherence, a whole-of-government approach, standard carbon pricing, support for women in trade, and more help for developing countries to reach their sustainable development ambitions.
The forum was a prelude to a series of major global, multilateral negotiation moments that will focus on striking the balance between economic recovery and environmental protection.
These include UNCTAD’s 15th quadrennial conference, UNCTAD15, from 3 to 7 October; the World Trade Organization’s 12th ministerial conference, MC12, in November; and the World Biodiversity Summit, in October and November.