Abu Dhabi

Trade and Sustainability Hub 2024

Alongside the Thirteenth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13) we will be running our Trade + Sustainability Hub, bringing together thought leaders from both within and outside governments for a series of conversations on the challenges of building cooperative trade policy that delivers for sustainable development. 

February 27, 2024 2:00 am - February 28, 2024 12:00 pm GST

(Open to public)

The Thirteenth World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC13) is being held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, from February 26 to 29, 2024. 

Running alongside this, IISD's Trade + Sustainability Hub will bring together thought leaders from both within and outside governments for a series of conversations on the challenges of building cooperative trade policy that delivers for sustainable development. 

This year's theme is:

Trade Policy in Turbulent Times: Can We Find a Way Back to Cooperation?

International cooperation is difficult, and it is especially hard in times of increasing polarization. The last few years of trade policy have felt like ongoing crisis management, and the forces pulling governments away from cooperation have been persistent. However, we also know that cooperation—where it makes sense—delivers better outcomes, and many of the long-term challenges to global sustainable development cannot be met without it. The question is, how can we find our way back to cooperation on trade policy? 

Within its overall theme, conversations at the Hub will focus on three key issues:

1. Climate Action, Industrial Policy, and Subsidies: Are we spending wisely?

Governments around the world are leaning into industrial policy: subsidizing renewables, building border carbon adjustments, and negotiating access to critical minerals. This raises a number of important questions: Is this effective policy? How long can governments afford to keep investing like this? What happens to the producers whose governments cannot afford to shape the global market with subsidies? What does this mean for international climate finance, both for mitigation and for adaptation? What are the knock-on effects of these policies for a globalized trade network? How can we, as a trade policy community, do better.

2. Trade Rules to Protect the Natural World: How do we allocate the burden of change?

As human consumption and impact surge past planetary boundaries, we need to reset the relationship between nature and our economies. Governments are trying different trade-related measures: circularity, reforming and repurposing subsidies, due diligence requirements for supply chains, and banning illegally sourced, unnecessary, or harmful products from their markets. Where these measures require change, do they allocate the burden of paying for reform fairly? Do they kick away the development ladder or reflect the reality of the change required to protect the biosphere? Ultimately, do these measures go far enough to protect our increasingly fragile relationship with the natural world?

3. Development and Inclusion in Trade: What would a fairer system look like?

Economic activity that excludes some (be it countries, regions, or groups within countries) from reaping its benefits or asks others to bear the costs of adjustments, is not sustainable—politically or otherwise. Every government has portions of its economy considered “fair game” to global competition, as well as some it wishes to protect. Some wish to be included in the global economy, but only on their own terms. Considering these complex and conflicting demands, what does a “fair” trading system look like? How do our institutions, including (but not limited to) the WTO and its reform agenda, need to evolve to help deliver a system that is fairer for all?

What's on the agenda?

You can view the full agenda here.

When and Where?

The Trade + Sustainability Hub will take place from Monday, February 26 to Wednesday, February 28. The Hub will be held in person at the Pearl Rotana Capital Centre Hotel, a 5-minute walk from the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre Conference Centre where MC13 is taking place.

Sessions in Room B, which hosts up to 80 people, will be livestreamed throughout the day on this website, and recordings will be available after the event. 

Who can attend?

Anyone with an interest in trade policy can attend the Hub. Attendance is free of charge, however we are unable to cover travel costs. 

How do I attend?

You need to register to attend, selecting either online or in person. If you register as in person you will also have access to streamed sessions on the website. Registrants will receive logistics details for attending the Hub in Abu Dhabi in January 2024, as well as how to livestream sessions online. 

If you are a speaker or a session organizer with questions around attending the Hub, please contact the team at trade-events@iisd.org

Conference details

Focus area