By Sharon Atieno

The 2023 World Trade Organization (WTO)’s Public Forum, to be held from 12th-15th, September 2023 in Geneva, Switzerland, will link trade and climate change for a greener and more sustainable future.

Held since 2001, the Public Forum is the organization’s largest outreach event attracting more than 2,000 participants annually. It provides a unique platform for interested stakeholders from around the world to discuss the latest developments in global trade and propose ways of enhancing the multilateral trading system.

Under the theme, it is time for action, the 2023 Forum is rallying the global community to take action now and live up to the Paris Agreement of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. It also calls for taking action together by embracing inclusive growth and sustainable policies to tackle climate change and other pressing issues.

According to the World Trade Report 2022, trade can play an essential role in helping countries reduce emissions by increasing the availability and affordability of environmental goods, services and technologies. It can also help countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and build future resilience.

The report notes that while trade itself does generate emissions from production and transport, trade and trade policies can accelerate the dissemination of cutting-edge technologies and best practices and enhance incentives for further innovation aimed at tackling climate change.

“Climate change is one of the defining crises of our time and one that will have enduring repercussions. It is also one that can be fixed if every country and every sector works to keep alive the ambition of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming. We all need to act now, the effects of the climate crisis are already underway across the lifespan of three generations,” WTO Director-General, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said in a statement.

The Forum will have 90 sessions spanning three subthemes including the role of the services sector in sustainable trade, inclusive policies for the advancement of green trade and digitalization as a tool for the greening of supply chains.

The 2022 Public Forum themed Towards a sustainable and inclusive recovery: ambition to action focused on how trade can contribute to post-pandemic economic recovery and examined, particularly, how trade rules can be strengthened, and government policies improved to create a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive trading system.