The opening plenary, co-hosted by the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade for Peace Programme, was kicked off by the organisation’s Director-General, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
During her opening speech, Dr Okonjo-Iweala explained that “trade, poverty and peace remain intricately connected”. She continued on to reveal that although “the World Bank estimates that by 2030, up to two-thirds of the world's people in extreme poverty will be living in the 30 or so fragile and conflict-affected (FCA) countries”, these countries are “least integrated into global trade”.
In her view, the “multidisciplinary thinking and inclusive approaches” put forth at the Graduate Institute’s Centre for Trade and Economic Integration (CTEI) and Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP), are critical to constructing economic opportunities in these countries.
Achim Wennmann, Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Graduate Institute and Senior Researcher at the CCDP, asked, “If we do not team up in order to enhance broad-based economic opportunity, then who will?”. For him, trade is a starting point to strengthen collaboration and disincentivise violence and conflict for parties in conflict.
The Geneva Trade Platform, based within the Graduate Institute’s Centre for Trade and Economic Integration, aims to address challenges in international trade policymaking. Geneva Trade Week is organised annually to complement these goals and further the discussion on an international stage.
In her concluding remarks, Dr Okonjo-Iweala said "I hope these ideas will provide some food for thought on possible areas of collaboration between the trade and peace communities that come together at the Graduate Institute. Ultimately, the goal is to bring together expertise and knowledge that will enable trade to nurture peace and peacebuilding."
Read the full press release on the event from the World Trade Organization.