• The UAE is also hosting the WTO's 13th Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi next February

Dubai: On December 4, for the first time ever, trade will have an officially recognized thematic day at the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28). It will see trade incorporated into the official agenda of COP28, which is taking place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), between November 30th - December 12th. The decision underlines the centrality of trade to discussions on tackling climate change and achieving global climate targets, and the collective action required to integrate solutions into global supply chains.

Trade Day is being overseen by a committee co-led by His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the COP 28 Presidency and the WTO Secretariat. The Committee is working in conjunction with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the International Chambers of Commerce (ICC), the World Economic Forum (WEF), and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED). The UAE is also hosting the WTO's 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi in February 2024, with Dr Thani earlier noting that trade policy can help shape a common future that takes into account the environment, global health, and poverty.

Trade day will see discussions on topics crucial to trade’s role in climate action and sustainability, with six panels throughout the day at COP 28. The first panel, ‘Global leaders unite to promote a roadmap of trade policy options for a just and ambitious global response to climate change’, will feature leaders from across the organizing parties, including HE Dr Thani, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, UAE and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the WTO. Other sessions include deep dives on the following: Critical minerals, the energy transition, and the role of trade; Leveraging sustainable finance for trade to create a sustainable future for all; Shaping international trade and global value chains for MSME climate action; Promoting The Use Of Trade To Scale Up Breakthrough Trade Technologies And Support A Just Transition; and Empowering Green Skill Development for Sustainable Supply Chains.

During the event, governments, business, and international organizations will explore how to leverage trade policy as a tool for decarbonization of global supply chains, look at ways to incentivize MSMEs to invest in a net-zero future, highlight the importance of building green skills capacity, discuss how to secure energy-transition-related value chains, address how environmentally responsible practices can be incorporated in trade finance, and look to ensure that all countries can access breakthrough technologies and innovate to transition to a clean energy future.

HE Dr Thani, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, UAE, said: “For the first time at a COP, trade is front and center of the climate debate. In conjunction with the leading players in trade, Trade Day will explore ways to drive real-world solutions and break down the barriers holding up the implementation of game-changing policies and technologies. It will also explore opportunities for global trade to reduce CO2 emissions, an effort that requires smart thinking and real collective will, but one that will enable the world to continue to scale the multi-lateral trading system as the  primary engine of global growth and ensure that its negative impacts on the environment are reduced.”

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the WTO, said: "Climate change requires immediate global action, and at COP28's inaugural Trade Day, the WTO Secretariat and its partners stand ready to showcase how trade policies are a powerful tool for nations to accelerate the pursuit of their climate goals. Join us in charting this transformative path."

John Denton, Secretary General of the ICC, said: “Putting trade on the COP agenda for the first time is a big step forward towards ensuring international commerce can be better leveraged to support global climate goals. With the right reforms we see significant potential for trade policy to significantly accelerate the diffusion of green technologies and incentivize the adoption of sustainable practices in the real economy.”

Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, said: "UNCTAD is pleased to collaborate on the first ever Trade Day at COP28 together with the United Arab Emirates, WTO, ICC, and WEF. This coordination effort is a giant step in acknowledging the trade-climate ties and addressing key economic asymmetries between developed and developing nations linked to climate change. Appropriate trade and green industrial policies can be drivers of a just climate transition and to achieve the sustainable development goals, leaving no one behind. As key global trade organizations, we can work together to achieve these goals."

Gim Huay Neo, Managing Director of Centre for Nature and Climate at WEF, said: “We have seen an acceleration of trade in green technologies and services. However,  much more progress is needed to meet our Paris Agreement goals. Notably, new technologies will be required to make the process of trade more efficient and sustainable. The Trade day at COP28 presents an important opportunity to bring together the trade, technology and climate communities to further collaborate and progress the global efforts.”

His Excellency Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), said: “We are honoured to be part of this ground-breaking moment. Organising the first-ever 'Trade Day' at COP28 signifies the growing recognition of trade's pivotal role in addressing climate change and achieving global climate targets and reflects our firm commitment to enhance collective efforts to integrate sustainable solutions into global supply chains.”

H.E. Al Zaabi added: “As a leading commercial and logistics hub, Abu Dhabi and the UAE remain committed to find innovative solutions to global economy challenges. As the world is experiencing mega shifts impacting all facets of life, we believe bringing global stakeholders together is the first step to devise strategies that leverage trade as a tool for decarbonisation, incentivise businesses to invest in a net-zero future, and foster equitable and sustainable economic growth. We are committed to contribute to these efforts and look forward to transformative outcomes that will shape our shared future.”