WTO Building in Geneva

IISD at the WTO Public Forum 2023

September 12, 2023 8:00 am - September 14, 2023 6:00 pm CET

(Open to members)

The WTO's Public Forum is taking place from September 12 to 15, 2023, in Geneva, Switzerland. With the theme "It Is Time For Action", this year's Public Forum will examine how trade can contribute to a greener and more sustainable future. The Forum will explore how trade can facilitate access to environmental goods, services and technologies, help achieving the Paris Agreement's Nationally Determined Contributions, and maintain the ambition to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Please note that you must be registered for the WTO Public Forum to attend.

IISD Co-organized Events

Ending Harmful Fisheries Subsidies: From Treaty to Reality

  • Co-organized with The Pew Charitable Trusts (PEW), World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), and Friends of Ocean Action (FOA).
  • September 13, 2023, 17:00–18:15 CET, Room D (WTO).

Over a billion people depend on fish as primary source for protein and a 100 million are directly dependent on fishing for their livelihoods. According to the UN FAO, one third of global fish stocks are already exploited beyond sustainable levels. In 2022, the WTO reached a landmark agreement to finally end subsidized overfishing. By speeding up the entry into force of this agreement and complementing it with additional rules to tackle all harmful fisheries subsidies, WTO members can make a crucial contribution to restoring and maintaining the sustainability of fish stocks and supporting livelihoods. This session showcases perspectives from high level representatives, fisheries experts and environmental advocates. The panel will discuss why swift ratification and successful implementation of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies as well as an ambitious result from the second wave of negotiations is urgently needed to support coastal communities, ocean health and build resilience to climate change.



  • Alice Tipping, Director, Trade and Sustainable Development, IISD.


  • Alfredo Giron, Head, World Economic Forum’s Ocean Action Agenda & Friends of Ocean Action, World Economic Forum.
  • Sebastian Mathew, Executive Director, International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF).
  • Nella Pepe Tavita-Levy, Permanent Representative/Ambassador of the Mission of Samoa.
  • Heike Vesper, Chief Executive, Transformation Politics and Markets, World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) Germany.


The Scramble for the Markets of the Future: Decarbonization, Trade and Geopolitics

  • Co-organized with the Foreign Trade University (FTU), and E3G. 
  • September 15, 2023, 9:00–10:15 CET, Room E (WTO).

Decarbonization and climate change mitigation policies may be the biggest stressors of the overall framework of WTO rules since those rules were agreed. Climate-related trade restrictions, from border carbon adjustment mechanisms to deforestation requirements in supply chains, green subsidies that aim to stake out shares of the markets of the future, and trade agreements securing access to critical minerals are testing the capacities of the multilateral trading system to adjust and reform while making sure that no one is left behind. Geopolitical rivalry and lack of trust means the world’s political environment is making collaboration difficult, and walls are starting to rise together with the shift of values of electorates worldwide. Will we find ways for the multilateral trading system and the climate regime to work together? This session will look into the challenge of international cooperation in this race against the clock.



  • Alice Tipping, Director, Trade and Sustainable Development, IISD.


  • Aaron Cosbey, Senior Associate, IISD.
  • Henry Gao, Professor of Law, Yong Pung How School of Law, Singapore Management University.
  • Ngan Vu Kim, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Foreign Trade University, Vietnam.
  • Jonny Peters, Senior Policy Advisor, E3G.


IISD's Presence in Other Public Forum Events

Fish Map Reveal 

  • Organized by WWF, and other SFO organizations. 
  • September 12, 2023, 15:30 CET, Atrium (WTO).

The Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, will present a map that shows each Member that has formally accepted the Fisheries Agreement up to date.  

Our Trade Team will be present. 


Managing Materials for a Sustainable Future

  • Organized by the Permanent Mission of Costa Rica.
  • September 13, 2023, 17:00–18:15 CET, Atrium (WTO).

This session will look at the sustainability of raw materials from a broad perspective, including circular economy considerations, and the importance of ensuring that the raw materials needed for the green transition are produced in an environmentally responsible way.

Grégoire Bellois, Senior policy advisor for IISD's Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF), will be a speaker in this session.


EU and African Perspectives on the Green Transition 

  • Co-organized by the European Commission (EU), and the Permanent Mission of Kenya. 
  • September 14, 2023, 17:00–18:15 CET, Room D (WTO).

This session will offer the EU and African perspectives on the green transition. The panel will examine how to drive respective efforts with appropriate policy frameworks, including the role of trade. The panel will bring together the perspectives from government, business and think tank with a focus on development.

Alice Tipping, Director, Trade and Sustainable Development, IISD, is participating in this debate.


Conference details

Focus area