sustainable development goals (sdgs)
The WTO's contribution to achieving the SDGs
The WTO is playing an important role in the achievement of the UN's Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and collaborates closely with the UN's Department for Economic and Social Affairs in monitoring progress in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The WTO reports annually to the UN's High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on WTO efforts to achieve trade-specific targets in the SDGs. The HLPF is the UN's main means of reviewing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and allows all UN members and specialised agencies to meet annually to evaluate progress on achieving the SDGs.
HLPF 2022: “Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”
The 2022 HLPF will take place from 5 July to 7 July and from 11 July to 15 July, under the auspices of the United Nation's Economic and Social Council.
The forum will consider the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on five Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicated below and review progress towards attaining these goals:
- Goal 4 on education
- Goal 5 on gender equality and women's empowerment
- Goal 14 on life below water
- Goal 15 on life on land
- Goal 17 on partnerships for the goals
The COVID-19 pandemic has put the world trading system under stress and highlighted the WTO's contribution in building back a stronger and more inclusive global economy in a multi-crisis world. In its report to the 2022 HLPF, the WTO emphasizes the contribution of trade to improving people's livelihoods and achieving the five SDGs under review. The importance of attaining these goals has been underlined frequently by the WTO's Director-General, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
In its report to the 2022 HLPF, the WTO emphasizes the contribution of trade to improving people's livelihoods and achieving the five SDGs under review.
On SDGs 4 and 5, the report notes the essential role played by cooperation and dialogue among international institutions and relevant stakeholders. In particular, it looks at how this cooperation has supported domestic policies aimed at increasing online education and supporting the inclusion of women in trade.
On SDGs 14 and 15, the report highlights that WTO rules provide space for accommodating environmental concerns, such as measures aimed at protecting life below water and on land, in trade policy considerations. At the WTO, negotiations are under way, the report underlines, on curbing harmful fisheries subsidies while groups of members are discussing three new environmental initiatives: (i) Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions (TESSD), (ii) Informal Dialogue on Plastics Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade (IDP) and (iii) Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform (FFSR).
On SDG 17, the report stresses that the WTO works in partnership with other organizations through initiatives such as Aid for Trade, the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), the Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF), the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) and the SDG Trade Monitor. It also covers cooperation with the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Health Organization on issues such as climate change and access to COVID-19 vaccines.
The WTO's report can be found here.
Previous WTO reports to the HLPF
UN members adopted, in 2016, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which contains the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These SDGs reflect the understanding that development is closely linked with economic growth, social well-being and environmental sustainability and that the SDGs offer the most effective and flexible way to address conflict, human rights issues, poverty and inequality as well as climate change and environmental degradation around the world.
The UN recognises that trade is an engine for inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction that contributes to sustainable development. International trade accounts for over 50 per cent of low-income countries' GDP and is an important source of income for both the private and public sector in developing countries.
Trade enhances a country’s income-generating capacity, an essential prerequisite for achieving sustainable development.
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