Elizabeth Morgan | Sustainable development and trade
The last two months of the year have ended with a focus on sustainable development and trade, which leads me back to my article of November 30 referencing the absence of regional trade mainstreaming.
The UN Conference on Climate Change (COP27) was held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, November 6-18, 2022; the UN Conference on Biodiversity (CBD) (COP15) held in Montreal, Canada, December 7-19, 2022, and, I add, the end of the FIFA World Cup Football Tournament hosted by Qatar. These are all linked to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
I start with the FIFA World Cup which seemed to have been a quite successful event for host country, Qatar, in spite of all the preceding criticism. What I have found interesting and related to sustainable development and trade is their legacy plans for the seven stadia built for the tournament. White elephant buildings have been a problem for host countries of these international sporting events.
For the 2007 Cricket World Cup, Jamaica has the Trelawny Multipurpose stadium which is rarely used. Greece and Brazil have unused facilities after the 2004 Olympics and the 2014 Football World Cup. For this 2022 World Cup, Qatar seems to have given a lot of thought to the future use of its stadia. One will be completely dismantled as it was a temporary structure constructed from recycled shipping containers.
Seems some containers will be returned to trade use. Other stadia will be downsized and transformed into hotels, housing, shops, schools, and other community facilities. Material from these stadia will be exported for use in other countries. Thus, thought was given to sustainable development in considering Qatar’s legacy from the tournament.
We here in Jamaica are also well aware of the problems associated with climate change, reduction of biodiversity, and pollution from construction, production and trade, and the need for action in implementation at the national level to promote sustainable development.
At COP27, the aim was to make progress in addressing climate change following from COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. The World Trade Organization (WTO) unveiled its 2022 World Trade Report dealing with Climate Change and International Trade at COP27.
This report points to the complex linkages between climate change and international trade. Climate change can obstruct production and trade, and trade can contribute to carbon emissions, but it can also contribute to promoting the green economy, including the development and supply of alternative energy sources.
The report indicates that “Even though climate change can have profound negative impacts on international trade, trade and well-designed trade policies are essential elements of sound climate change adaptation strategies.” Discussions in the WTO on climate change takes place in its Committee on Trade and Environment and in discussions on trade in goods and services.
Not as much progress was made at COP27 as desired to reduce carbon emissions but there was a breakthrough agreement to provide “loss and damage” funding for vulnerable countries seriously affected by climate disasters.
At COP15 Montreal, governments were aiming to take action to reverse destruction of biodiversity – reducing the threat to fauna and flora. An agreement was reached amid controversy over funding for implementation in developing countries. Funding continues to be a concern in addressing national and regional environmental issues.
It is reported that the main points of the biodiversity agreement include:
• Maintaining, enhancing and restoring ecosystems, including halting species extinction and maintaining genetic diversity;
• “Sustainable use” of biodiversity – essentially ensuring that species and habitats can provide the services for humanity, such as food and clean water;
• Ensuring that the benefits of resources from nature, like medicines from plants, are shared fairly and equally, and that indigenous peoples’ rights are protected; and
• Paying for and putting resources into biodiversity: ensuring that money and conservation efforts get to where they are needed.
Related to these discussions on biodiversity, it should be recalled that the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in June adopted an agreement on fisheries subsidies aimed at limiting the over-exploitation of fish stocks.
The discussions at COP27, with the release of the WTO World Trade Report, at COP15 on biodiversity, and even for sporting events and in construction, indicate the importance of mainstreaming policies and programmes as everything is intertwined.
Mainstreaming is critical to implementation and to achieving the sustainable development goals, which in Jamaica are linked to the national development plan. In this time of crises, mainstreaming should be encouraged at the national and regional levels.
Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.
- Elizabeth Morgan is a specialist in international trade policy and international politics. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org