Two women sit on stage with microphone

ITC empowers the voices of small businesses at COP28

6 December 2023
ITC News

COP28 is in full swing, marked by a wide array of actions and activities by the International Trade Centre (ITC), with the aim of bringing the voice of small businesses to the biggest global talks on climate action. 

A place for meaningful conversation 

ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton co-hosted the opening of the Trade House, a pavilion focused on discussions and solutions on how trade can help drive climate and sustainable development actions. Trade House is hosted by ITC and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the World Trade Organization (WTO). 

‘This Trade House is a dedicated space for the trade and climate communities to come together and come up with real solutions, drawing from our combined strengths,’ Coke-Hamilton said. ‘And at ITC, our goal is for this space to amplify the voice of small businesses in this conversation, as we can’t achieve a just, inclusive transition without them.’ 

This is the first-ever Trade House pavilion at a Conference of the Parties (COP) to show the importance of introducing trade as a theme at the biggest climate talks in the world.  

Since opening day, the Trade House has proven to be an ideal space for fruitful conversations, panels, and exchanges. Actors from different areas have shared lessons and experiences – such as the need to improve access to climate finance and the benefits of working together as entrepreneurs. What they share is a commitment to accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy, in a way that does not leave anyone behind. 

Group of young entrepreneurs sit in circle for discussion
Dubai, United Arab Emirates. At COP28, young ecopreneurs and business support organizations discuss the role of small business in climate change.
Photo by ITC
Officials sit on stage with microphone
Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The official opening of Trade House at COP28.
Photo by ITC

Forging partnerships 

ITC signed a significant collaboration with the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the world’s largest climate fund with a portfolio of over $22 billion. The fund was created within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to provide flexible financing for developing countries to counter climate change. 

The new partnership seeks for both parties to collaborate on projects that support trade and the private sector for climate action. 

‘ITC can be a key partner in facilitating the flow of climate finance to where it’s most needed, through de-risking small businesses, making them attractive for investors and thereby empowering them to take climate action, as well as supporting financial institutions to address the bottlenecks that hinder them from deploying capital,’ Coke-Hamilton said. 

'Working together and combining our complimentary capabilities, we can speed up the delivery of climate action. Our shared commitment extends to the inclusion of small businesses, women, youth and vulnerable communities, aiming to support and empower them in addressing the far-reaching impacts of climate change on economies and livelihoods.’ 

More partnerships and collaborations are to be signed during the conference.  

Empowering small businesses  

ITC brought a delegation of small businesses and business support organizations to Dubai, to bring their voices to the table. 

‘The important role we are playing is that we’re supporting different companies. A wide range of companies in Peru and Latin America need support and opportunities in a sustainable way,’ said Edgar Vásquez Vela, Director of the Exporters Association ADEX , in Peru. 

For days the delegates have joined panels, shared experiences with peers and negotiators at the talks. They discussed the needs on the ground for entrepreneurs who want to take climate action, but need further support to do it.  

‘Having business support is great,’ said Zahira Hansa, from the Sari for Change in South Africa.  

‘But we need to bridge the gap between what’s happening on the ground and the talks here. We, small businesses, have to improve our capacity for a carbon transition, but this burden would be eased if the global industry helps us with financial support,’ she said. 

The executive director met with the delegation to ensure that the message is being communicated widely across the conference, in a captivating dialogue that took place on COP’s first-ever Trade Day, right in the heart of the heart of the negotiation's hall.  

'For me it is critical that you are able to translate what you're doing on the ground into this dialogue and also into a bigger expression of the need for resources, the need for tangible change, the need for policy imperatives that actually address what you need, the need for funds.’ 

ITC executive director holds phone to take selfie with young entrepreneurs
Dubai, United Arab Emirates. ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton takes a selfie with young ecopreneurs and business support organizations at COP28.
Photo by ITC

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