Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Sandra Husbands. (FP)

Trade has to be part of the climate change solution and countries need to cooperate on how to achieve adaptation and mitigation instead of working in silos.

Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Sandra Husbands, shared this view while speaking virtually at the COP26 Blue Zone High-Level Dialogue on Sustainable Trade, Climate and Nature: How can cooperation on trade support climate action and sustainable development.

“One of the things that is of great concern to me as a person responsible for foreign trade is that fighting climate change cannot be something that is done at the political level, at the multilateral level, if it does not touch at the level of business; if businesses do not change their practices, we are not going to make the transition safely before we’re all at risk….

“We need to work together and we need to mobilise our businesses even if it is down to setting legislation where a person is assigned to look at climate sustainability behaviours within a business that that becomes a legal requirement. These are the things we need to do in order to help make change occur,” Minister Husbands stressed.

Participating in segment two of the event, which focused on the “Opportunities for Trade Ministers to Support Action on Climate Mitigation”, the Minister emphasised in her presentation that everyone needs to recognise that the world is in a climate change crisis, which needs to be addressed immediately.

She also noted that trade has an impact on what is going on in the environment, and that unsustainable practices have resulted in the degradation of everything, including the forest and waters.

The Minister responsible for trade went on to underscore that climate change not only affects the environment of small island developing states (SIDS), but their livelihoods. 

She explained that financial institutions have to deal with the fall out of businesses being unable to repay loans, and insurance companies have to make huge pay outs, when SIDS are affected by natural disasters, which are increasing every year.

Ms. Husbands insisted that in the talks surrounding climate change mitigation and adaption, financial institutions should be included.  

“The voices that should be heard are the banks, the insurance companies, the financial institutions, the financial regulators, they should be at the forefront speaking about this matter, insisting on change and working together with countries and trade ministers and policy makers to see what is it we need to do to avert this crisis, that is staring us in the face,” she stated.

When asked by moderator of the panel discussion, Bernice Lee, ‘What can trade ministers do? What can you do tomorrow to make this work better in terms of sustainable trade as well as trade policy?’ Minister Husband responded with two suggestions – building solidarity and research.

“What we need to do, and for us here in CARICOM, being able to work together with the multilateral organisations, WTO, ITC, UNCTAD, etc., to build the research, that will help us to chart a path that shows us how or what alternative ways we can develop without falling into the trap of holding on to old technologies….  I think we need to research and then we have to start building solidarity.

“Not only do the practical things at home that we need to do in terms of tariffs, and so on, but we have to build solidarity and share that information with other countries across the world to help persuade them that there is another way for us to get to development without destroying ourselves in the process…. Because at the end of the day, if as a small nation, we try to do it individually, you can get hit and you’d get smashed. But if you build different alliances that when you put something in place to help force us to keep moving on our path to renewable energy and climate sustainability; that we cannot be broken because we’re all working together, to hold ourselves accountable and stay on track….,” Minister Husbands posited.

Also participating in segment two was Minister of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica, Andrés Valenciano Yamuni; Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis; New Zealand’s Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Damien O’Connor, and Minister of Climate Change, James Shaw.

The overall consensus from the High-Level dialogue was that tackling the climate crisis demands an urgent transformation of the global economy toward sustainable production and consumption, and trade and trade policies have a central role to play in this effort.

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