Trade, Climate Change and Sustainable Development : Key Issues for Small States, Least Developed Countries and Vulnerable Economies

Date period
29 January 2010

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The purpose of this publication is to deepen the understanding of policy-makers and other stakeholders of the major issues and challenges that least developed countries (LDCs), small and vulnerable economies (SVEs) and small island developing states (SIDS) face with respect to the interface between trade and climate change. Previous work in this field has focused largely in the concerns of developed countries and large developing countries such as Brazil, India and China. Yet, for small economies, the inter-relationship between trade and climate change is likely to have significant development implications.

LDCs, SVEs and SIDS are amongst the countries most vulnerable to climate change. Not only do many face amongst the most severe physical impacts from climate change - often in the form of too much water, or too little - but they also have economies that are particularly sensitive to climatic variation, since these are based in the natural environment and dominated by agriculture, fisheries, forestry and tourism. Furthermore, countries in this group are amongst the most open and trade-dependent economies in the world. Many are remote from major markets, being either island or landlocked countries, and face high transportation costs. They also face deep institutional and human resource capacity constraints in formulating and institutionalising effective pre-emptive and response measures to climate change and climate change policies.

The study that this book presents was carried out under the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development's (ICTSD) Global Platform on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainable Energy. It was implemented by the Commonwealth Secretariat in response to the Lake Victoria Commonwealth Climate Change Action Plan, agreed by Commonwealth Heads of Government in Uganda in November 2007.

The study, in draft form, was considered at a Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on Trade and Climate Change: Key Issues for Developing Countries, which was held in Mauritius in September 2008. The meeting was hosted by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development of Mauritius and involved researchers involved in the project, regional bodies, the private sector and government officials from Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific. There was also strong representation from within Mauritius across a range of sectors. Some of the policy-oriented conclusions drawn out by the stakeholder dialogue are included in this volume. They indicated a rich programme of work that has still to be developed and implemented to address current development concerns of LDCs, SVEs and SIDS in respect to trade and climate change issues.

The papers in this volume comprehensively cover the trade and climate change concerns of LDCs, SVEs and SIDS, looking at the impact of climate change on key trade sectors, including agriculture, fisheries and tourism, and exploring the needs of these most vulnerable countries with respect to transport and access ro clean, efficient and renewable sources of energy for development, and technologies that will support more sustainable forms of production and livelihoods into the future.

The book highlights some of the most immediate concerns of LDCs, SVEs and SIDS in respect of trade and climate change issues, but the implication of the analysis this volume presents is also that there need to be a transformation of trade policy approaches, at the national and international levels, to support a diversification away from trade sectors that are highly vulnerable to climate change, and to better support economic competitiveness, low-carbon development and poverty reduction in the most vulnerable countries in the world.