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Launch of the Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate

On 19 January 2023, over 50 ministers of trade representing a diversity of countries from all regions and levels of development launched a Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate.

Led by trade ministers from Ecuador, the European Union, Kenya, and New Zealand, the coalition launch and inaugural meeting was held in the margins of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, followed by a stakeholder roundtable with representatives from international organizations, business, NGOs, and academia.

The Forum on Trade, Environment and the SDGs (TESS) welcomes the creation of this coalition, which we view as a critical opportunity for stronger international cooperation so that trade and trade policies support climate action and sustainable development priorities. TESS is proud to have been working with the co-leads on the creation of their coalition and that TESS Director, Carolyn Deere Birkbeck, was invited to moderate the landmark launch meeting in Davos.

The coalition seeks to provide high-level leadership and guidance to boost inclusive international cooperation on the nexus of climate, trade, and sustainable development. Emphasizing the urgent need for climate change mitigation and adaptation, the coalition aims to drive cooperation among trade ministers in the global response to climate change, including by engaging nationally and internationally with fellow ministers working on climate, environment, finance, and development, among others.

The coalition’s launch statement outlines a set of four principles that will guide its work: cooperation, inclusivity, leadership, and transparency. The statement also identifies five priorities that the coalition will advance through concrete actions.

This launch of the coalition is “tremendously good news” said Carolyn Deere Birkbeck. “Inclusive, high-level political engagement that connects the dots between climate, trade, and sustainable development is long overdue. The fact that the coalition’s priorities include building alliances and partnership with climate and finance communities and relevant stakeholders is a great step forward. And so is the fact that the coalition includes and welcomes participation of a regionally diverse group of countries, from the most vulnerable to climate impacts to the largest economies and highest greenhouse gas emitters.”

Looking ahead, Deere Birkbeck argued that “inclusive international cooperation on trade and trade policies is the only way that governments and stakeholders can achieve the enormous economic transformations that tackling the climate crisis requires while ensuring just transitions and climate-resilient development. A key area where the coalition can add value is to catalyse greater synergy between multilateral agreements and decision-making processes on climate and on trade.”

Recalling her 2021 article calling for stronger cooperation among trade ministers on climate action, Deere Birkbeck emphasized that two critical ingredients for progress on the climate-trade interface are political dialogue and trust. At TESS, “we believe that ministerial-level engagement is vital for addressing both the tensions and opportunities at the interface of climate, trade, and sustainable development so that all countries can thrive on the road to reaching the Paris climate goals.”

We welcome the coalition’s commitment to developing concrete actions, hope more countries will join the coalition, and along with many other stakeholders offer our support.

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Visit the coalition website for more information, including the full list of members.

View a video of the press conference held by coalition co-leads after the launch.

For background on the origins of the coalition, see the informal dialogue of ministers held in June 2022.

 

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