Leading representatives from international organizations, the private sector and academia discussed on 29 September how trade rules can be strengthened to address the environmental challenges the world is facing.
At the high-level session on “Delivering a Trade Agenda for a Sustainable Future”, panelists shared their views about possible ways to reinforce partnerships between the various stakeholders involved in ensuring the transition towards a green economy and the role the WTO should play.
Panellists underlined that the climate crisis is the biggest threat to global prosperity and that slashing greenhouse gas emissions is one of the greatest challenges faced by humankind.
Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), stressed the need to think radically and break silos between trade and environment if the international community wants to ensure that trade is part of the solution to climate change.
“People have to realize that climate change is killing us, that literally we are dying. Not dying as quickly as with COVID but people need to recognize what the impact is going to be if we do not act and act quickly,” she said.
Correia Sacko asked WTO members to grant the AUC observer status in the organization so that it can participate in the discussion on how the multilateral trading system will align its rules to better fight climate change in the near future.
“We really need to have an observer status at the WTO because Africa is a big place where trade is happening. Africa is where the future is. We have the biggest young population in the world, so we really need to be here,” she said.
Citing WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Professor Signé stressed that multilateralism needs to be renewed at a time when the world needs new rules. “The future of trade is digital, is green, and is inclusive,” he said.
Professor Signé stressed that bold climate action would yield direct gains in terms of economic growth, job creation and public health.
Clea Kaske-Kuck, Director for Policy, Advocacy and Member Mobilization at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, spoke of the importance of moving from supply chains to value chains and looking at how these can be transformed to improve the environment, support people and address the climate crisis.