April 14, 2024

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WTO Launches Initiative to Help Economies Meet Climate Change Goals

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CEM REPORT, TRADE | The World Trade Organisation (WTO), World Bank Group and the World Economic Forum (WEF) have launched a new initiative to help economies meet their climate change mitigation and adaptation goals.

The initiative tagged “Action on Climate and Trade (ACT)* is targeted at participating developing economies and least-developed countries.

ACT is structured to help policymakers and stakeholders in developing economies engage in international processes where appropriate, such as the WTO’s Committee on Trade and Environment, and the WTO’s Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions.


Launching the initiative at the World Economic Forum, Kimberley Botwright, Head of Sustainable Trade, said that initiatives like ACT are vital to helping developing countries achieve their national adaptation climate plans and nationally-determined contributions as outlined under the Paris Agreement.

“These three institutions are going to leverage their analytical and capacity-building programmes to deliver participating developing economies with analysis specific to their trade flows to support their climate mitigation and adaptation goals.”

She noted that the pilot phase of the initiative will focus on working with participating developing economies to develop climate-related analysis specific to their trade circumstances.

She added that “ACT will also drive public-private dialogue around this analysis to help stakeholders define and take actions to use trade for climate mitigation and adaptation. ”

Notably, domestic stakeholders will be involved in the analysis through public-private dialogues in an inclusive bottom-up model that mirrors the structure of the Paris Agreement, where climate efforts are determined by countries according to their priorities, interests and challenges – with Egypt likely to join the pilot phase of the ACT initiative.

According to Aik Hoe Lim, Trade and Environment Division Director at the WTO, this new pilot initiative by the World Bank Group, the World Economic Forum and the WTO Secretariat will focus on supporting developing nations to leverage trade to improve their climate resilience and decarbonization plans in a way that is aligned with their specific needs and local circumstances.

He noted that “the climate crisis is calling for rapid and effective collective action using every tool in the toolbox. Trade policy offers WTO members, including developing members, a wide variety of options to enhance their climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.”

ACT will typically use the expertise of the three participating organizations to provide participating economies with tailored trade analysis so they can plan for the impact of climate change on trade, leverage opportunities for climate action and trade growth, and identify areas of collaboration with partners in a bid to reach net zero.

The World Economic Forum believes that business supply chains, in particular, can be an important driver of sustainability and that trade can support efforts to reduce emissions through climate-friendly technologies.

Speaking at the launch Terje Pilskog, the CEO of Scatec, noted that emerging markets have abundant availability of cheap, affordable renewable energy that can be built out. That can be a basis for a competitive position in the future, especially if we are driving a change – as we need to do – towards a greener economy. Then this is a significant opportunity.

Global Director for Trade, Investment and Competitiveness of the World Bank Group, Mona Haddad, said: “By prioritising sustainable practices and harnessing the power of international trade, developing countries can not only mitigate the impacts of climate change but also create new economic opportunities and build a better future for their citizens.”

Head, of International Trade and Investment, WEF, Sean Doherty, said: “Urgent action is needed to meet climate goals. Many companies are undertaking supply chain decarbonisation and looking to green trade. Developing economies must be empowered to identify new opportunities and shape a future net-zero global economy.”

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