Trade Day at COP28

4 December 2023
ITC News

ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton delivers COP28 Trade Day Reception Remarks.

(Dubai, United Arab Emirates) Greetings, everyone! I’m delighted to be part of the first-ever Trade Day under a COP presidency, and I hope this is just one of many Trade Days still to come.

Many of you will have already visited our Trade House Pavilion, which is another notable first at a UN climate conference, and for those who haven’t, I urge you to stop by. I can promise you that what you’ll hear there will irrevocably change how you think about the climate crisis, and we need your feedback and ideas on what comes next.

This Trade House wouldn’t have been possible without our partners, the ICC, UNCTAD, and the WTO. I’m deeply grateful to them for their collaborative spirit and hard work in making this Trade House come alive, and I’d also like to thank the sponsor for tonight’s reception, the European Climate Foundation, for their generous support.

We’re now in the final days of the inaugural Global Stocktake, and as the high-level discussions and synthesis reports confirm, we’re nowhere near where we need to be on delivering on the Paris Agreement’s objectives on climate change mitigation, adaptation, or means of implementation and support.

We need to make sure that this first Global Stocktake delivers on its promise: that it serves as a lever for ratcheting up our ambitions and our actions over the coming years.

The Global Stocktake also couldn’t come at a more urgent time, especially for small businesses who are already living the climate crisis. But don’t just take it from me: you have the chance to hear from small businesses themselves, both today and throughout the COP. At this year’s Trade Day, we have representatives from small and medium-sized enterprises and business support organizations with us in the ITC delegation, including women, youth, and Indigenous Peoples.

They’ll be able to tell you what their experience has been like living on climate change’s frontlines—and what steps they’re already taking to achieve a low-carbon transition. They’ll also tell you where they most need support from the policy community and why.

You’ll hear what it means to be a small business trying to thrive in a small island developing state, even as they grapple daily with the threat that cyclones, floods, and rising sea levels could wipe out not just their work, but their entire community.

You’ll hear what it means to be a business support organization, working to obtain the necessary resources to help small firms build their resilience to climate change, while remaining competitive in both local and international markets.

You’ll hear about how many small businesses are already making a transition to low-carbon operations, or actively wish to do so, and why they need information, skills, technology, and financing to make this transition work.

I‘ll give you a brief snapshot of the kind of story you can expect to hear on Trade Day, drawing from our work at ITC. With more governments enacting regulations to tackle deforestation and other environmental ills, we’ve been working in countries like Ghana and Uganda to make sure everyone in the value chains that might be affected—from small producers to major retailers like Lavazza to national commodity boards—are coming together to discuss the way forward. In Ghana, we’re already seeing results. Its Cocoa Board has enrolled two million farmers so far in a traceability system that will help them not just produce more sustainable cocoa, but to do so in a way that they can comply with emerging regulations. With cocoa making up roughly 14 percent of the country’s export revenues, making sure that Ghanaian producers can continue accessing the EU market is critical for the local economy and for its communities.

I urge you all to take their messages to heart. These small businesses aren’t just the beneficiaries of climate action—they’re the drivers of it. And if we’re going to ratchet up our climate ambition, we need to start doing things differently, and we need small businesses to be part of the solution.

Thank you all and I wish you a wonderful Trade Day!