ITC Executive Director speech at the Trade For Sustainable Development Forum 2017

25 September 2017
ITC News
Speech delivered by ITC Executive Director Arancha González at the Trade For Sustainable Development Forum 2017
25 September 2017 - Geneva

Good afternoon

And let me tell you what a pleasure is to see a packed room discussing trade for sustainable development.

I am just off the plane from New York, where I participated in the United Nations General Assembly. Two years on from the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals the landscape is fast changing.

From the initial declarations, we are now moving into translating commitments with action on the ground.

The Sustainable Development Goals give us a compass for what we want to achieve – more sustainable and inclusive trade and economies more broadly – as well as how we want to achieve it – through partnerships, public and private alike.

Four Sustainable Development Goals are of specific focus in our discussion today:

Goal 12 – Sustainable Consumption and Production
Goal 17 - Partnerships
Goal 2 - Sustainable Agriculture, and
Goal 8 – Decent Work

As you heard this morning, tomorrow we will launch the SUSTAINABILLTY MAP platform, a concrete expression of partnerships, the theme of this year’s T4SD Forum. This useful tool will help build the missing link between production and consumption and enable parties in value chains to have a shared understanding of sustainability.

Because the Sustainable Development Goals are also about consumers. Increasingly it is the consumer that is king...or queen. More and more people want to know where their products and services come from, who was involved in the production process and how clean the value chain is. Companies need to place this new concept of 'consumer sustainable consumption satisfaction' higher on the business agenda. It matters.

SDG 12 specifically focuses on ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. But when the mapping of resources and prioritization of attention to individual SDGs within the UN family was undertaken, this SDG was very much undersubscribed to.

If there is one SDG that demands a partnership approach between the private sector, governments, international organizations like ITC, and consumers and producers, it is this one. And there are small things and big things that we can all do. An example of a small internal step we are taking at ITC is actually an initiative of our talented interns who have launched a 'waste initiative drive' at ITC to cut down on use of paper, electricity, plastic utensils and to recycle old furniture and stationary. If we want to be an organization that advocates for sustainable consumption it has to start at home.

But you are here over these next two days for the larger footprint which ITC hopes to contribute to this debate. SUSTAINABILITY MAP can be a key tool to drive sustainable consumption and production by providing transparency, data and supporting a community of practice by engaging with the consumer class. This is especially the case in developing economies that are showing the fastest consumer growth rates today with robust growth forecasts for the future, which is why we will zoom in these countries tomorrow at Day 2 of the T4SD Forum. ​

And we need to ensure that emerging economies as well as Least Developed Countries and small economies are part of these discussions to help them create a roadmap for improving how finite goods and services are consumed and produced. The proof of success will be in the scalability of our interventions and how we can transform the data in the SUSTAINABILITY map into intelligence that will impact and influence decisions and decision makers.

As we speak of partnerships, ITC is committed to starting with our own family, the UN family. We need to step up cooperation with other organisations in areas of complementarity as going it alone in silos, while comfortable, is no longer an option.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is one such organisation. Founded in 1977, IFAD has worked effectively to improve farm-level sustainability and resilience.

It is in this context that I have the honour to invite Gilbert Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development to address you today.

President Houngbo is no stranger to the UN or to Geneva, having been Deputy Director-General of ILO. And before that, Prime Minister of the Republic of Togo.

Gilbert, it is a pleasure to welcome you back to Geneva and a privilege that one of your first official engagements back here is at ITC.

The floor is yours.