While trade is often seen as part of the problem of climate and other global challenges, it needs to be repositioned as part of the solution, says World Trade Organization (WTO) director-general, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Speaking at Unctad 15, she said trade was critical to solving the current problems confronting us, including the climate crisis.
She noted that trade could support the development of renewables and a low-carbon-emission development pathway, and enable the transfer of innovative goods and services, and should be harnessed to do so.
“Trade opens up economic opportunities for developing countries and plays a crucial role in helping countries adapt to changing supply patterns brought about by climate change,” Okonjo-Iweala said.
She was one of a number of heads of state and international organisations that emphasised the need to reverse climate change and to ensure that poorer countries are able to recover from the economic impact of Covid-19.
“We need to ensure that the power of trade delivers for all countries,” UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said.
“From the onset of the crisis, we witnessed the challenges of our interconnectedness and dependency on global supply chains. But equally, we saw the critical role that trade can play in ensuring access to essential goods.”
To restart the global economy, the leaders said it was important to ensure equity in vaccine roll-out, the removal of barriers to trade, preparedness for future shocks, and to make peace with nature.
“To end the pandemic, we need to remove unnecessary trade and travel constraints, in particular export bans, so that we can make vaccines and other vital tools available to those most in need,” World Health Organization director general Tedros Ghebreyesus said.
Inger Andersen, UN Environment Programme executive director, added it was crucial that we recognised that the “economy absolutely depends on nature”.
“We must end fossil fuel subsidies – that $400 million that goes in the wrong direction – make peace with nature, and scale up economic and regulatory incentives so we can invest in nature-based solutions,” Andersen said.