UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday that 2015 would be a very crucial year for the international community as governments have three interconnected commitments and three essential deadlines.
"First, we have to accelerate the (Millennium Development Goals) MDG process and meet the targets as much as we can, then member states should define, shape the future development agenda, what we call the Sustainable Development Goals and by the end of December next year we must have a universal, legal, climate change agreement in place," Ban said in his opening remarks to the World Trade Organization (WTO) open Forum.
"These are three very important responsibilities that Member States and the whole international community must meet." He argued that the trade has a major role to play to materialize these three goals.
"Trade has a major role in this. International trade is an essential component of an integrated effort to end poverty, ensure food security and promote economic growth. An ounce of trade can be worth a pound of aid," Ban said.
"That is why member states working on the Sustainable Development Goals have emphasized the importance of the multilateral trading system." The UN chief, however, warned trade can have profoundly negative impacts on the environment, not least in terms of carbon emissions through the production, transport and consumption of traded goods.
"Therefore, as part of the sustainable development goals, we must promote policy coherence between the economic, financial and trade systems and environmental sustainability, including the climate change agreement, "Coherence will ensure that trade rules contribute to, rather than detract from, regulations to protect the environment. Goods, services and ideas are on the move as never before." Ban underlined that if international trade is managed well, it can be a key drivers for sustainable development.
"We are now joined as never before. The living standards have risen for an unprecedented number of people in all regions, but we still have a long way to go to fulfil the promise of the Millennium Development Goals, "Sustainable development remains an aspiration and climate change is a growing threat. If managed well, international trade can be a key driver of sustainable development." He urged the world to use the power of trade to improve the well-being of people everywhere while carefully managing the planet's natural resources and ecosystems.
"Let us transform the way we do business by creating an enabling environment for trade and investment that will help deliver sustainable development." The Public Forum is the WTO's largest annual outreach event, which provides a platform for participants to discuss the latest developments in world trade and to propose ways of enhancing the multilateral trading system.
The event regularly attracts over 1,500 representatives from civil society, academia, business, the media, governments, parliamentarians and inter-governmental organizations. The forum this year will be between 1st and 3rd of October.