By Haruna Gimba
WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala met with trade ministers from a diverse group of around 20 WTO members exploring the establishment of a coalition of trade ministers on climate issues.
The discussion, organized by the European Union, Ecuador, Kenya and New Zealand, sought to enhance ministerial-level dialogue to bring climate change to the forefront of trade policy and also explore how partner organizations can help support this effort.
“Every day we are seeing the impacts of climate change on economies, rural areas, financial systems, biodiversity and competitiveness,” DG Okonjo-Iweala told the gathering.
“I am therefore pleased to welcome you at the WTO and hope we will build together a coalition and bring together greater action on the nexus of trade and climate.”
Pointing to the role of trade and the WTO in addressing climate change while managing trade frictions, she noted that she had long made the case that “trade ministers should find some space to meet and discuss climate issues just as finance ministers do.”
The breakfast gathering, which the organizers described as an informal conversation open to wider participation, looked at ways trade and trade policies can support the Paris climate goals, sustainable development, environmental sustainability and a just transition.
Ministers from the four organizers said the coalition would foster trade policies that better support climate action and contribute to climate-related work at the WTO.