The SIDS (small island developing states) meeting at the UN on 27 September showed that the international community dared*.

All the microstates hit by natural catastrophe in recent years reported how the system has shafted them.

Hurricane Dorian had given the UN’s first Trade Forum on 9-13 September a special edge. Even before the UN Secretary General visited the Bahamas islands worst hit and blamed climate change for the hurricane, the developing country politicians and international specialists meeting in Geneva over five days were focused on the longer-term consequences. Following the St Lucia Prime Minister, they also put the spotlight squarely on the human tragedies created by the storms and sea-surges.

UNCTAD organized forum with hopes for “a call to arms” to the UN Climate Summit to bring trade into the talks, particularly to help small island developing states (SIDS) to cope with their climate crises. The call was made, but it hardly received a warm response.

The SIDS got the chance to make their case to the world community for an hour on 23 September at the Climate Action Summit in New York. UNCTAD argued in its advance declaration: “Global trade policy must change and do more to be part of the climate solution. [The] climate crisis will wipe out trade gains of small island developing states if not addressed now.”

With such a short time, just before lunch. we shouldn’t have expected the UN General Assembly to leap to a startling new initiative to keep these countries alive. But at least it gave the SIDS the chance to make their case to the Forum in Geneva and at the prestigious Raúl Prebisch lecture, organized during the meeting.

On 27 September 2019 commitments in Samoa five years before received a high-level mid-term review at the U.N. See how the SIDS were coldshouldered (LINK).

* Swedish climate activist 16-year-old Greta Thunberg charged the adult world community at the UN with stealing her future (and her childhood that should be spent in school) with “How dare you!”

For an earlier, fuller version of the UNCTAD advance presser, see here.

Complete package (53 pages)

5 September 2019: Advance Presentation (updated)

UNCTAD wants ‘call to arms’ to UN Climate Action Summit

9 September 2019: Trade and Climate Change: Bringing SIDS into focus

St Lucia announces ‘Clinton-style’ fund for small states to fight climate impacts: 770 words

9 September 2019: Climate action and trade

Climate change rulebook will check whether countries live up to commitments
Chile wants oceans focus in December climate conference
: 480 words

Third Oceans Forum

10 September 2019: Oceans economy and climate change action

Malta calls for grassroots involvement in action to mitigate climate
Third Oceans Forum: oceans economy, climate and harmful fish subsidies
: 1450 words

Fish trade and food security: 1140 words

10 September 2019: Taking stock of final phase of fish subsidies negotiations

‘WTO faces reputation collapse if fisheries deal fails’: 485 words

10 September 2019: Raúl Prebisch lecture

UNCTAD summary of address

11 September 2019: Circular Economy, Oceans and Plastics Pollution

In praise of plastics — and notes on how to persuade people + policymakers: 1200 words

11 September 2019: Launch of the Commodities and Development Report 2019: Commodity Dependence, Climate Change and the Paris Agreement

Fighting climate can require all our energy subsidies: 400 words

12 September 2019: The post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

Do we need the private sector and sustainable trade in the CBD? 400 words

13 September 2019: Roundup

Climate change is more than a human rights issue; 2000 words (updated)


BioTrade Exchange companies

Tables and charts

Fishing subsidies: PEW Charitable Trusts

FAO on fisheries futures

Basel Convention: amendment on plastics

Alliance to End Plastic Waste

Plastic Waste Partnership

The Plastics Problem: Stockholm Environmental Institute

UNCTAD on biotrade

Helvetas biotrade projects in South-East Asia

Other reports

SIDS review conference. UNTV, 27 September 2019 morning session, 3 hrs (LINK). See also afternoon session.

UN Trade Forum convenes to tackle climate emergency. UNCTAD. 3 September 2019. (LINK)

Prime Minister Chastanet puts Bahamas Human Crisis on Priority at UN Trade Forum. The Voice. 9 September 2019. (LINK)

“Sacrifices have to be made”: Env Min at UN Trade Forum. The Edition, Maldives. 9 September 2019. (LINK)

No exit plan for small islands on climate crisis frontlines. UNCTAD. 10 September 2019. (LINK)

DuPont Biomaterials to share ideas and innovations to combat plastic pollution in the oceans at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. British Plastics and Rubber Magazine. 10 September 2019. (LINK)

A Plan of Action for sustainable fisheries and oceans trade. UN Environment. 10 September 2019. (LINK)

SDG progress ‘in danger’ of going backwards without change in direction, new UN report reveals. UN News. 11 September 2019. (LINK)

ACP Secretary-General Reiterates Call for Urgent Ambitious Climate Action, IDN-InDepthNews. 13 September 2019. (LINK)

Saint Lucia PM Backs SIDS Foundation. St Lucia Times. 15 September 2019. (LINK)

Documents supplied to UNCTAD for the UN Trade Forum


  1. I wrote this recently:
    Trade and Climate, etc.
    The recent UN Climate Report seems very limited indeed! They talk about the deleterious effects of cows and eating meat and dairy products. Of course, this is very important, not only because of the methane cows emit but also the vast areas they require to survive. I read that using the land required to feed cows could feed 20 times as many people eating cereals.
    Unfortunately the UN Report didn’t mention how much damage international trade produces. 60,000 immense cargo ships bring to us goods from China and elsewhere in Asia, polluting air and water. Besides, factories in Europe become bankrupt as they can’t compete with Asian countries and especially China, where workers are treated like slaves.
    No one dares to say that international trade must cease, which means the World Trade Organisation must change its priorities to trade within Europe and within other limited regions in the world. We all must eat food produced in our area or within 100 km or so. As for other products, we should import only when something is truly necessary and not being produced in the country.
    In addition, air travel must be drastically reduced as it pollutes too much. The huge cruise ships also pollute and must cease operating.
    The use of petrol must be replaced by non-polluting solutions, e.g. solar panels ———–
    We must follow the philosophy of EF Schumacher as in his book published ca. 40 years ago, Small is Beautiful. We must live more simple lives and concentrate on a local economy. The town of Totnes, Devon in England follows his principles and even produces their own money. There is also a Schumacher Institute in Devon.
    The subject of demography is regularly ignored. More people means more pollution and less green spaces. Population Matters in England are doing their best to inform about the demographic explosion, the consequent problems, and the need to provide birth control, yet humanity is on the increase. In 1960 we were 3 billion on Earth, now we are 8 billion.
    Sea levels are rising, Pacific island nations with their rich traditions are slowly disappearing as a result. Permafrost is melting and also contributing to the rise of sea water. Experts say there will be 60 million climate refugees in 5 years.
    There is global warming with new records reached regularly, and increase of Drought and desertification. We see ever more natural catastrophes that are ever more devastating. The situation is dire and urgent action is needed.
    Yet, no urgent action is taken, only little steps. The problem is that Economy rivals Ecology, meaning that consuming less, traveling less is not good for the economy. However, we must concentrate on the future of the Earth and of humanity and the future of our children.
    Brave urgent action is needed NOW!
    Sincerely, Livia Varju

    • You mgiht be surprised Livia to learn how many SIDS at the UN Trade Forum would agree with you. What bothers them is the lack of support from rich nations who control the international aid agencies to give them loans to improve resiliance and create locally sustainable food production. As the Barbados Prime Minister pointed out on 10 September, people moving from one country to another are called migrants, money moving from one country another is called Foreign Direct Investment. The question is: will the international community do anything to change this.