Trade policy could make a difference for people who still rely heavily on traditional stoves and fuels that emit toxic pollutants, DDG Paugam said at the virtual event titled “A Conversation on Clean Cooking, Women, and Trade”, which was held back-to-back with the meeting of the Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE). The event was organized by the WTO Secretariat and the Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA) on International Rural Women's Day. DDG Paugam noted some developing countries account for very low trade flows of stoves and cooking appliances and also apply high tariffs for components and finished products, on average around 20%.

“Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala rightly says that ‘trade is about people’ and as the WTO's Director-General she says this often because it is in our founding document, the Marrakech agreement,” DDG Paugam said. “The WTO has a mandate for fostering discussions on trade and the environment, trade and development, and trade and gender so the question of clean cooking and access to affordable clean stoves and fuels resonates powerfully for us,” he said.

DDG Paugam identified four ways the WTO Secretariat could support the clean cooking initiative, namely by raising awareness and visibility of the issue among WTO members, contributing to research and analysis to better understand the impacts of trade policy on clean cooking stoves and fuels, helping members identify forums to initiate trade discussions on this topic, such as in the WTO's CTE, and encouraging technical assistance programmes, such as the Aid for Trade Initiative, to help developing countries improve their access to cleaner solutions for cooking and fuels.

Dymphna van der Lans, CCA chief executive officer, noted the importance of cooperation with the WTO Secretariat as this event was a direct follow-up to CCA's series of Conversations on Clean Cooking, which earlier featured former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Wanjira Mathai of the World Resources Institute. Ms. Van der Lans relayed the private sector's appreciation for a predictable trade policy environment that is nurtured by the framework of the WTO.

Ambassador Makaila Ahmad of Chad, coordinator of the Least-Developed Countries (LDC) Group,  highlighted the importance of Sustainable Development Goal 7 on the access to modern sources of energy for LDC development, particularly for women and girls.

Reema Nanavaty of the Self-Employed Women's Association in India said women entrepreneurs and informal workers need to be involved more closely in policies leading to cleaner cooking and the elimination of trade barriers. Neha Juneja of Greenway Appliances in India noted that the need for clean cooking affects numerous households and therefore requires the urgent attention of the trade community. Phoebe Makungu from Kenya's Ministry of Energy underscored the importance of creating energy policies and incentives that promote trade and encourage women's participation.

The recording of the virtual event is available here.




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