Accelerating low-carbon transition by developing countries through trade: ITC at COP27

10 November 2022
ITC News

High-level side event organized by ITC, featuring leaders from international organizations, including United Nations agencies, puts trade at the heart of COP27 agenda

Engage the missing voices, the “silent majority”, in climate talks. 

That includes the voices of small businesses, women, young people and vulnerable communities – that was the message from speakers at a COP27 high-level session on 10 November on accelerating the low-carbon transition through inclusive and sustainable trade. 

The side event was hosted by the International Trade Centre (ITC), the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“If we’re going to accelerate a low-carbon transition, if we’re going to keep any hope of a healthy planet alive, we need to elevate those voices,” said ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton. “We need to give small businesses the financing, tools, training and market access they need to see the green transition as an opportunity not just to survive but thrive.”

Equipping small businesses to make the low-carbon transition is key because they make up 90% of businesses and half of jobs worldwide. Of the big corporations that produce most of the goods commonly used every day – including food, electronics and apparel – more than 80% of their emissions come from their supply chains, and the biggest bulk of that comes from small businesses.

“Special attention needs to go to the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change – including least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states – which are also among those that contributed the least to the current situation,” said H.E. Rabab Fatima, High Representative, United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS). 

She added: To help vulnerable countries make the low-carbon transition, support the uptake of renewable energy sources. Provide financing, technology and capacity building. On the policy front, liberalize trade of environmentally friendly goods.

Ali El Nawawi, Co-founder/CEO of Scarabeus Sacer, Egypt, noted that subsidizing certifications for small businesses so they can meet sustainability standards in the EU or US markets would allow for "real” change, rather than “cosmetic, transient” change.

Speakers shared how sustainable and inclusive trade can support small businesses to build climate resilience, reduce carbon emissions and gain a competitive advantage in global markets. This can be achieved through internationally aligned standards and transparency mechanisms, investment in green technologies, establishment of low-carbon value chains and creation of an ecosystem conducive to innovation. 

With the right incentives, including intellectual property rights, small businesses can play a key role in lowering emissions, thus raising nationally determined contribution (NDC) ambitions. 

This in turn helps bolster food security and improve livelihoods, and ultimately governments’ priorities for economic and social development.

To reach these goals, we collectively need to move beyond competition to cooperation, said Maria Cecilia Quaglino, a climate advocate with the Climate Youth Negotiators’ Programme.