BackgroundLeast Developed Countries (LDCs) Small and Vulnerable Economies (SVEs), and Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) are already highly vulnerable to climate change physical impacts. In addition, they may also be hurt by some of the responses to the challenges of climate change taken by other countries and the international community.
These countries face significant levels of poverty and increased levels of climate-related threats such as droughts, floods, hurricanes, superimposed upon existing vulnerabilities. While these countries represent only a small portion of world trade, they are amongst the most open and trade-dependent in the world. Their key trade sectors such as agriculture, fisheries and tourism will be major impact-takers under climate change, yet many of these countries have already struggled, and achieved only a limited success in diversifying their economies. All these factors make LDCs, SVEs and SIDS particularly vulnerable to emerging climate change challenges.
Given the importance of trade in the economies of LDCs, SVEs and SIDS, trade policy will be an important element to strengthen these countries´ resilience to external shocks, including those arising from climate change physical impacts and policies. Although the interface between trade and climate change has entered the international policy arena, much is yet to be explored in order to deepen our knowledge on the links between these two issues and their future sustainable development implications.
Competitiveness policies can play a major role in creating the supply-side capacity that these countries require in order to adapt to climate change, build resilience, and connect to the world economy on better terms. To strengthen competitiveness and build supply-side capacity in the context of climate change, these countries will most likely need to deal with both mitigation and adaptation aspects. Moreover, for these countries to respond to the urgent adverse effects of climate change, face the potential negative side-effects from the implementation of climate change mitigation activities, and meet the costs of adaptation, additional effective financial resources will be required.
The purpose of this meeting is to explore key interests and concerns of LDCs, SVEs, and SIDS in the context of climate change negotiations and identify crucial issues for a positive agenda for the trade and climate change regimes. Moreover the meeting seeks to explore effective tools to reduce the vulnerability and enhance the resilience of these countries from a competitiveness and adaptation prism. It will discuss the role of trade policy and the international trading system in this context.
The dialogue will bring together Geneva-based trade negotiators from LDCs, SVEs, and SIDS; climate change and development analysts and policy-makers; civil society and private sector representatives; experts; academics; and IGOs for two days to discuss these issues and identify the policy priorities and future research agendas to address key trade and climate change issues for these countries.
Moreover, this meeting has been envisioned as a follow-up to the discussions held on the “Stakeholder Dialogue on Climate Change and Trade: Key Issues for Developing Countries" co-organised in Mauritius on September 2-3, 2008 by ICTSD, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development of Mauritius. Furthermore, it will provide a space to discuss the results from the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting in St. Lucia held on the 6-8 October, 2008 and prepare for the upcoming XIV Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, in Poznan, Poland, in December 2008.