The Director General, World Trade Organization, Okonjo Iweala, has stated that trade is part of the solutions to climate change and should be incorporated into global climate policy as a propelling force for financing and other climate-related support provided to fragile economies.
According to a press release by the WTO, Okonjo Iweala made this statement at the Africa Adaptation Summit organized by the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Citing the new memorandum of understanding signed with the GCA to strengthen partnerships on trade and climate adaptation action in countries and regions vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, the Director-General stated that the WTO is ready to work with partners to deliver for the continent.
What Okonjo Iwela is saying
Okonjo Iweala believes that in addition to climate finance, trade and investment are part of the solution to climate adaptation. She pointed out the role of trade in delivering technologies and mitigating the impact of shocks in the agricultural output–one of the most vulnerable sectors to climate impact.
“You might have financing, but if the trade policies don’t align, you may not be able to get the technologies you need for climate adaptation. Africa already faces a tremendous amount of costs concerning adaptation. Through trade, we can increase the return on investment and increase the resources available to African governments for adaptation.”
According to Okonjo Iweala, Africa, accounting for 80 percent of the world’s population, will likely be the most affected by climate change, with a significantly large threat to the continent’s agricultural sector. Some studies estimate that climate impacts could cause crop productivity growth on the African continent to shrink by a third and lead to annual GDP losses of 3.8% by 2060.
“Trade will be vital to offset future shocks in agricultural output by ensuring access to new technologies such as more resilient crop varieties and better irrigation and water storage systems,” the Director-General said.
She also stated that “reducing trade costs, could also significantly reduce the welfare losses from climate change in low-income countries.”
The World Trade Organization believes that if trade policies are incorporated into the global climate strategy, trade will do its part for climate action. According to the DG, the organization is committed to working with partners to deliver for the continent.
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