April 5, 2023

Toward the SDG Summit 2023: High-impact trade initiatives for accelerating the SDGs

  • When: 8 – 9 May 2023, 10AM – 5PM (Geneva Time)
  • Where: Online and  Geneva (Room XXVI, Palais des Nations)
  • Registration: To register for this event, please click here.

On 8 and 9 May 2023, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will host the third iteration of the UN Trade Forum to take stock of trade policies that are best tailored to the challenges that the world faces. Discussions will focus on approaches that will make trading systems more resilient, particularly in developing countries, clarify the effectiveness and feasibility of a set of trade-related “high-impact initiatives” to respond to global challenges, and to expedite progress towards the SDGs.

This event provides a platform to identify cooperation frameworks to contribute to the 2023 SDG Summit (September, 2023), the UNFCCC COP 28 (November 2023), and the 13th WT0 Ministerial Conference (early 2024). The Forum will also set the scene for the UNCTAD@60 celebrations in 2024.

The UN Trade Forum will be organized in four plenary sessions:

Session 1: South-South trade partnershipS for accelerating the achievement of the SDGs

The Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries (GSTP) is a unique partnership framework for South-South trade cooperation. It emerged from the desire of developing countries to stimulate trade among themselves. We now have a fresh window of opportunity for breaking the logjam in the implementation of the past negotiating results and moving ahead to embark on new South-South trade agenda. Within the current context of “polycrisis”, the GSTP provides a vehicle to address pressing global challenges through trade cooperation to accelerate the achievement of SDGs. What is the role of South-South trade on the path for sustainable development? How can the GSTP be better utilized to enable further trade and economic integration among developing countries? In which policy areas or sectors can trade cooperation be strengthened in a manner supportive of the achievement of SDGs?

Session 2: Building a sustainable ocean economy for development

Launch of the Trade and Environment Review 2023

In 2022, a political road map “our ocean, our future, our responsibility” was adopted at United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon in July 2022. Additionally, a call for a Blue Deal was made at the 4th UN Oceans Forum in Geneva in April 2022.

The Ocean Economy, and particular blue foods sector, was remarkably impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and is still being affected by the war in Ukraine.

The Trade and Environment Review 2023: “Building a sustainable ocean economy” examines and provides an analysis of several emerging topics, including the sustainable fisheries, aquaculture, and seaweed sectors as levers for a sustainable economic recovery; fisheries subsidies and non-tariff measures reform; the decarbonization of shipping and maritime supply chains; and the impact plastic litter challenge on the food web. It identifies the main opportunities, and challenges and concludes by offering a bottom-up list of action-oriented policy recommendations beyond 2030.

Session 3: SDG 12 Sustainable Consumption and Production: the contribution of competition and consumer policies

Launch of UNCTAD report: Competition, Consumer Protection and Sustainability 2023

Responsible Consumption and Production, the Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG 12), is an essential component of sustainable development and a critical priority for the international community. Achieving SDG 12 requires the adoption of sustainable production and consumption patterns, which minimize environmental impacts, promote resource efficiency, and reduce waste. In this context, the role of competition and consumer protection policies in promoting sustainable consumption and production has received increasing attention in recent years. This panel aims to address the urgent need to advance towards sustainable consumption and will explore the contributions of competition and consumer protection policies in achieving SDG 12. Further, discussions will identify opportunities for advancing towards sustainable consumption and production.

Session 4: Gender gaps and digital solutions

Launch of UNCTAD Policy Review: E-commerce from a gender and development perspective

Digitalization has the potential to improve productivity, sustainability, and resilience in many economic sectors, including the agricultural sector that remains the main employer of women in several developing countries. Digital technologies can expand access to information and to new market opportunities and facilitate the integration of small entrepreneurs into domestic and regional value chains in agriculture and in other sectors. The potential of digital technologies for enhanced productivity and trade is, however, limited by gender gaps in technology adoption and use. UNCTAD has explored the benefits but also the challenges of e-commerce for women-led small enterprises in developing and least developed countries in its new policy review, E-commerce from a gender and development perspective. The launch of the publication will provide the opportunity for a penal discussion. What are the desirable interventions to guarantee that the benefits of digital technologies are equally shared and are gender-inclusive? What kind of digital platforms are more adapted to women’s business? Is there any similarity between the debate on trade and gender and the one of digitalization and gender? What are the promising initiatives in this field? What role should UNCTAD play?