SPEECHES — DG NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA
Good morning everyone. It's good to see you and it's really fantastic to see a packed room. That shows the level of importance of this event.
I'm delighted to be joining you and I want to say thank you to the co-chairs and colleagues who are joining us as well.
When you launched your Ministerial Statement last December, I had commended your efforts as a significant step forward in addressing key trade and environmental sustainability issues at the WTO.
These issues are more urgent than ever. We have seen this year the devastating effects of climate change, we are seeing it daily from heat waves and forest fires to floods that displaced millions of people, and droughts that exacerbated hunger and disrupted industrial production and transport.
Trade is an essential tool in our arsenal for climate action — for mitigation, adaptation, and fostering a just transition. This is the message the WTO delegation took to COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh earlier this month.
We underscored this message by launching our flagship World Trade Report at the UN climate conference, a very successful launch in which we had standing room only attendance. The analysis shows how trade — even though physical transport involves emissions — can be a force for good for the climate. Trade is not just a vital means for diffusing green technology, it is an enabler of greater prosperity and resilience in the face of climate shocks. The report makes a compelling case that trade is part of the solution for a low-carbon, resilient and just transition — a force multiplier for global efforts to address climate change. But to reap these benefits, we need to work together. Fragmentation would not just be economically harmful, it would make it harder to achieve progress on climate change.
These Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions (TESSD) are a trailblazer at the WTO. You are searching for practical solutions and concrete actions to catalyse the trade and environment agenda. You are breaking down silos and cooperating across traditional structures and fields of expertise to find solutions to global problems.
At MC12, Members showed the world that the WTO can provide solutions to global challenges. The Fisheries Subsidies Agreement is the first WTO Agreement with environmental sustainability at its core. In the MC12 Outcome Document, trade ministers broke new ground by explicitly recognizing the global environmental challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.
Last year, I urged you to work hard towards delivering results that harness trade for environmental sustainability and people's lives.
You have come a long way since then. You have agreed on a work plan and established four working groups that have seen rich discussions on (i) trade-related climate measures, (ii) environmental goods and services, (iii) circular economy — circularity, and (iv) subsidies.
You must now keep this momentum going as you work towards MC13.
I would urge you to move from ambition and discussion to action and to create a menu of options and pathways for expanding sustainable trade, investment, and innovation in support of global environmental objectives.
Let me also remind you to give importance in your work to the needs of those most vulnerable to the risks of climate change and other environmental challenges.
I ask you to engage with the LDCs, SIDS, and other vulnerable developing countries to get their perspectives on the challenges and opportunities of sustainable trade. And we should see how to make best use of specific tools at our disposal, such as Aid for Trade/Investment for Trade, to help with capacity building and catalyse sustainable investment and financing.
The opportunity is there, you have it, to identify, develop and deliver tangible outcomes for MC13.
In conclusion, I want to say to you excellencies, Ambassadors and delegations joining this event, that you are reshaping the narrative around trade and the environment. The world is paying attention. You are demonstrating to that world world that trade is part of the solution, not the problem. Now, let's deliver.