International trade is to be featured at the United Nations Climate Conference (COP28) for the first time when it convenes in the UAE in November and December. The UAE mission to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) made the announcement at the Committee on Trade and Environment, stating that trade will be subject to a dedicated day under the UAE’s COP28 Presidency Thematic Program – in particular its role as an enabler of climate-smart growth, including supply-chain resilience. This was then confirmed in a letter from His Excellency Sultan Al Jaber late last week.
The UAE Ministry of the Economy, His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the Minister of State for Foreign Trade, and the COP28 Presidency will co-lead the committee on trade for COP28 alongside the WTO Secretariat. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the World Economic Forum (the Forum) and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) have also all been invited to help shape discussions on trade during the COP28 Presidency Program.
This alliance, a first in the context of a United Nations Climate Conference, was created to promote the use of trade and investment instruments to deliver climate change mitigation and adaptation solutions. It also seeks to ensure open, equitable access to global supply chains, which will support small- and micro-enterprise growth around the world, especially in the global south.
HE Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi said the inclusion of trade at COP28 demonstrates the UAE’s commitment to delivering actionable, real-world solutions. “As a global supply chain hub, the UAE understands how significant a role the international trading community can play in championing energy transition and delivering sustainable growth across the world. We are excited that COP28 will showcase the opportunities in the sector for future-focused thinking that can deliver a trading system that is smarter, faster and more inclusive – especially for SMEs and MSMEs across the developing world. From the development and deployment of new technology to building consensus for integration into global supply chains, the UAE welcomes the chance to lead this essential transformation of trade.”
WTO’s Director General, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, noted that trade ought to be an essential element in any climate-change conversation. “Trade has too often been the missing link when responding to the climate crisis, but for this year’s COP28, the UAE Presidency is ensuring trade is part of the agenda. As the only international organization dealing with the rules of trade between economies, we want to mobilize world leaders to unite in using trade policy and trade facilitation to scale up trade in environmental goods and services and to accelerate decarbonizing supply chains and making them more inclusive and more resilient to climate shocks.”
HE Dr Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President Designate, further elaborated on the importance of this initiative, saying: “From the outset, we have been clear that COP28 is focused on transformational change that cuts across sectors and societies. International trade, as a cornerstone of economic growth, jobs, and livelihoods, is an essential tool in accelerating climate action. It has the potential to unlock investments in emerging economies, to boost uptake of clean energy technologies, and to support green jobs and innovation. The inclusion of trade in the COP28 thematic program is a deliberate and targeted effort to bring more stakeholders on board in our effort to fast-track climate action.”
HE Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), believes the inclusion of trade at COP28 reaffirms the UAE’s unwavering commitment in shaping the future of global trade to achieve the sustainable development goals. “The UAE sees climate-change mitigation as a major catalyst for sustainable socio-economic development, underpinned by a smart and circular economic strategy that encourages the inclusive flow of trade, supply-chain efficiency, and trade tech, creating new opportunities for exporters, manufacturers and investors between all four nexuses of the world. As the catalyst of Abu Dhabi’s economic growth and diversification, ADDED is doubling down its efforts in raising the Emirate’s trade stature to new heights, elevating its competitive edge as a global trade and investment hub.
“Leading up to COP28, Abu Dhabi is hosting the 8th edition of UNCTAD’s World Investment Forum, paving the way for policymakers to address challenges and reach agreements on priority issues in the global trade and investment which will feed into COP28 negotiations.”
Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, highlighted the development benefits of trade and how it can positively impact global commitments to carbon reduction and sustainability. “Trade can serve as a powerful catalyst for promoting inclusive growth and reducing poverty. UNCTAD is delighted to collaborate with the trade, climate and environment communities at COP28 to achieve this goal, establish a multilateral trading system that contributes to combating climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution while identifying opportunities for trade, investment, innovation and entrepreneurship benefiting both women and youth, as well as micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises.”
Gim Huay Neo, Managing Director, Centre for Nature and Climate, World Economic Forum, also praised the initiative: “The scale of the climate crisis urgently requires collective action, commitment and creativity. COP28 will provide a key global milestone for government, industry and civil society leaders to take stock of progress made, and an opportunity to define a clear pathway forward to drive action at speed and scale. By bringing the issue of trade into the program, the UAE Presidency is demonstrating a practical, real-world approach to climate solutions that bridges private-sector and public policy innovation.”
John WH Denton AO, Secretary General of the ICC, commented: “We applaud the UAE COP28 Presidency’s foresight and leadership in placing a particular focus on trade at this year’s Dubai Climate Summit. We see this as a great opportunity to elevate discussions on the role of international commerce in reducing emissions and building climate resilience in global supply chains. We look forward to working with partners to shape a high impact COP28 Trade Day with potential for action, also bringing our large and small business networks to the discussion.”
The COP28 Trade Day will take place on December 4 at Expo City Dubai, more information on the broader COP28 UAE Presidency program is available here.
The UAE leadership has confirmed that COP28 will provide a critical opportunity to place the multilateral trading system at the heart of conversations about sustainable development and equitable, inclusive growth. As one of the world’s leading trade hubs, the UAE is keen to lead the conversations on introducing greater efficiencies, modern technologies and low-carbon solutions into global supply chains. The country will also host UNCTAD’s 8th World Investment Forum in October, which will be followed by WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in February 2024.
The WTO Secretariat dedicated its 2022 World Trade Report to exploring the complex interlinkages between climate change and international trade. The report revealed how international trade and trade rules can make a positive contribution to addressing climate change.
For more sustainability stories, click here.