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Okonjo-Iweala Emphasizes Trade and Investment as key to delivering on climate action

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CEM REPORT, ENVIRONMENT | Director General of the World Trade Organization, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has emphasized the strong need to focus on developing climate-smart policies to promote international trade and investment in mitigation and adaptation projects.

According to a report published by WTO, Okonjo-Iweala added that fostering cooperation to develop common approaches to carbon pricing was critical to driving new transformations.

Okonjo-Iweala said this at a high-level forum held on the sidelines of the Global Investment and Trade for Climate Transformation forum in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt on 9 November.


“We need to build a coherent framework of trade and investment policies supported by roadmaps that can accelerate the energy transition and boost re-investments,”

“Climate change adaptation requires significant infrastructure investment to increase resilience and reduce vulnerabilities, and the transition to a low-carbon global economy will generate enormous investment, employment, and growth opportunities.” the Director-General said.

The Global Investment and Trade for Climate Transformation forum, convened by the WTO and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), addressed what the international trade and investment communities could do to advance the Paris Climate Agreement.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebecca Grynspan told the forum that recent research showed the number of new climate change investment projects announced in the last two quarters had decreased, indicating the need for climate funding, particularly in developing countries.

“We must ensure that trade and investment policies are an integral part of nationally determined contributions,” she said.  “That is not always the case, and we need to change that.”

Grynspan also discussed the role that trade can play in climate adaptation, highlighting the need to maintain a policy environment conducive to the cross-border flow of climate financing in order to promote international investment in mitigation and especially adaptation.

ITC Executive Director Pamela-Coke-Hamilton underlined that the voice of small businesses must be heard in the talks on transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

“It’s clear that climate change has a disproportionate negative impact on developing countries,” she said. “But by extension, it’s going to have even more negative impact on small businesses, so this year, we determined that there needed to be a presence and advocacy for their voices to be heard.”

Speaking on the role of public-private partnerships in climate financing, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Rania A. Al Mashat said that financing was critical in the launch of a recent green hydrogen project in Egypt aimed at reducing emissions.

“The key word here is financing. How can we avail financing to countries who want to actually trade with each other through a cleaner method?” she asked.

Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce John Denton noted the effects of trade facilitation in greening supply chains and reducing the impact of climate change.

“Let’s not forget that trade facilitation, in enabling the movement of goods across borders, actually can, if it’s done properly, reduce emissions,” he said.

CEO of the World Federation of Exchanges Nandini Sukumar stressed that trade formed a significant part of the solution to climate action.

“As we come out of the pandemic and as we build back better, trade as an engine of growth, as an engine of just transition, and as an engine of inclusivity, is going to be more important than ever before.”

Outlining the role of the financial sector in assisting society toward net zero, Jean Paul Servais, Chairman of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), said the “only way the financial sector can play a role in financing the transition is through transparent capital flows to where they are needed.”

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