How Aid for Trade supports the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals

The Aid for Trade (AfT) Review is taking place this week. Held at the WTO in Geneva, it gathers ministers, development agencies, think tanks and NGOs to hold discussions on various aspects of AfT and trade policy. The role for AfT to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals were discussed in a session organized by Canada and ICTSD. Here is notes from three of the presentations focusing on where trade fits into the SDGs draft, environmental mainstreaming and examples of mainstreamed AfT projects from the field.

How can trade contribute to the SDGs?

How can trade contribute to the SDGs?

1. Trade policy and the SDGs: Alice Tippings of ICTSD presented an overview of how the Sustainable Development Goals proposed in July 2014 are linked to trade policy, specifically through the supporting 169 targets. Her paper can be found here. Here are the main points from her quick overview in the session.

Trade is refered to as the “means of implementation” for sustainable development and thus trade is relevant to all 17 goals. She focused on 5 goals in particular and how targets relate to trade, namely:

Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Target 2B refers to need to correct distortions in world trade; to need for smooth functioning of commodity markets; to reduce volatiity and increase access to food security
Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Target 7a refers to the need to enhance global cooperation. Reducing distortions e.g. fossil fuel subsidies can encourage more investment in technologies. The last draft refers to connection to trade in environmental goods. Trade policy is part of broader policy framework to enable cleaner energy technology development. She noted that AfT could play a role in support more sustainable production processes in agriculture and that there is a link to goal 5 on acheiving gender equality
Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all target: Target refers to more AfT support can make a contribution including Enhanced Integrated Framework that mainstreams trade into LDC development plans.
Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Target 14.6 – refers to the need to eliminate fishery subsidies
Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Target : there is a need for “universal, rules based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the WTO” including the conclusion of the DDA. A second target refers to increasing exports of developing countries. The third target refers to implementing duty-free quota-free (DFQF) market access for LDC exports. Also need to ensure transparent rules of origin and facilitate LDCs’ use of their preferential market access. In the finance draft , talks about trade policy at different levels from the multilateral RTAs , safeguards, importance of domestic policy enabling environment.
2. Mainstreaming sustainability into AfT: The presentation from Lisbeth Casier a researcher at IISD discussed how to mainstream environment into AfT. IISD will publish a paper on the subject in 2015.
She made the point that if AfT is focused solely on export led growth without using a sustainable development lens, then there will be negative impacts at international level (emissions of GHGs), local level (soil erosion), overfishing, deforestation etc. AfT can help through improved water management practice training in monitoring and controlling fish stock etc.
An example from Industry, mining and construction:
There are negative impacts in the sector’s development including GHG emissions, local pollution and health risks, habitat destruction, less available water resources. AfT can help avoid poor siting and planning, upgrading technology and infrastructure, leverage finance from the private sector to deliver. She spoke on one methodological approach to reduce negative environment impacts of AfT, namely the use of Strategic Environmental Assessment. A strategic review of environmental and social consequences of programmes ex ante and the potential measures necessary to take to mitigate impacts. She recommends a focus on enabling on market access. e.g. on standards compliance by establishing standards bodies and improving private sector’s understanding of which standards are out there and to foster more certified exports. Also the importance of fostering cleaner production
3. Implementing mainstreamed AfT on the ground: Patrick Kanyibmo of the African Development Bank spoke about how AfDB projects are being designed in a a way that mainstreaming sustainability:
Goal 1: (reduce poverty) Poor farmers suffer from poor market access and infrastructure which makes weak linkages between areas of food deficit and food surplus. AfT can directly address these weakness in “soft” and “hard” infrastructure.
Goal 5: (achieve gender equity): through AfT, it is necessary to remove cross border trade barriers has big impact on women’s welfare as cross border traders mainly women. Also targeting sectors where significant proportion of players are women e.g. honey and apparel value chains
Goal 12 (sustainable consumption and production): AfT should support trade and environment including biodiversity.
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