DUBAI – Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), stated that COP28 is the strongest edition in terms of representing the global trade sector.

He emphasised that this is the first time the sector has been strongly represented at COP, acknowledging the importance of inclusivity in addressing climate challenges and maintaining trade that supports climate goals.

Speaking to the Emirates News Agency (WAM) on the sidelines of COP28's fifth day, he said, "For the first time, there's an appreciation for the link between trade, climate change, and the need for environmentally friendly trade." He stressed the importance of integrating renewable energy into the trading system.

Mene affirmed that this is a positive message for everyone as discussions about transitioning the global economy to sustainability gather pace in the coming decades. He pointed out that trade, alongside other sectors, can positively contribute to strengthening sustainability and environmental protection, highlighting various approaches to achieve this.

He mentioned that shipping and transportation can become sustainable and environmentally friendly by using either sustainable fuels or adopting electric vehicles. He noted that several African countries possess rich lithium resources, a key component in electric vehicle batteries.

Regarding the trade sector's contribution to global emissions, he said, "There's no specific figure for this sector's emissions, but shipping across continents emits significantly. So, the key is making the maritime industry more sustainable by using sustainable fuels."

Concerning initiatives led by the AfCFTA, he mentioned having a protocol for investment, setting clear goals for investments in renewable and green energy, marking it as a pioneering global initiative.

Speaking about COP28 in general, he stressed its significance for all sectors, industries, and nations, emphasising the importance of implementing commitments and global obligations to address the financing gap.

He concluded, "We need to see more investment and financial commitments to compensate for losses, damages, and adaptation, especially for developing countries."