Hon. Daryl Vaz (2nd left) addresses delegates at the United Nations Trade Forum in Geneva, Switzerland.
Taking into account the adverse impacts of climate change, Jamaica has made an urgent call for member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO), to facilitate the necessary trade concessions, special and differential treatment and flexibilities that could serve to assist in addressing structural and capacity constraints in the markets of SIDS.
The call was made Monday (September 9) by Daryl Vaz, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, who was representing Prime Minister Andrew Holness at the United Nations Trade Forum in Geneva, Switzerland.
In his address, Minister Vaz, who has responsibility for Land, Environment, Climate Change, and Investment, noted that this year’s Trade Forum held under the theme ‘Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and Climate Change” has special relevance.
“Given increasing climate risk vulnerability, especially for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the sooner comprehensive financial and competitive action is taken, allowing for the appropriate climate adaptation and mitigation, the less costly it will be for those of us which are borrowing countries” he added.
Minister Vaz also argued that trade has a critical role to play in addressing climate change, noting that Jamaica has sought to ensure that climate change considerations are incorporated in policy revisions, including its Trade Policy, as well as seeking to develop domestic monitoring, reporting and verification systems in order to enhance its transparency processes in carbon accounting.
In order to meet the ambitious targets described in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, the Minister noted that it is necessary to ensure that there are no “loopholes” in international agreements, especially Trade and Economic Agreements as these Agreements have typically been negotiated in fora that are separate and independent of climate negotiations.
Vaz mentioned “quite often, Trade and Financial Ministries employ mainly economic criteria in their policies and negotiating positions without regard to what their impact may be on carbon emissions”
“This failure to include the costs associated with the impact of climate change, in discussions on international trade, has resulted in an imbalance in the way emissions have been evaluated” Vaz underscored.
The United Nations Trade Forum which falls under the umbrella of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development is the last and most important international platform leading up to the United Nations Climate Action Summit and General Assembly which will be held later in September.