(Geneva, 19 June 2023)

Item 2 - High-level segment: Decarbonization opportunities and challenges in the Blue Economy

President of the Trade and Development Board, Ambassador Hashmi,
Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Ms. Grynspan,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

1. The Group of 77 and China would like to start by thanking the Secretary-General of UNCTAD for her comprehensive remarks at this high-level segment focusing on decarbonization opportunities and challenges in the Blue Economy. We would also like to express our sincere appreciation to the Secretariat for the various work undertaken relating to this particular area.

2. Oceans and seas are crucial in regulating climate and weather while providing essential ecosystem services. The ocean is a vital component of the global economy, with over 80% of trade transported via sea routes and providing employment for more than 150 million people. According to the UNCTAD Trade and Environment Review 2023, the ocean economy presents export opportunities worth over $1.3 trillion in ocean-based goods and services, accounting for approximately 6% of global trade.

3. The IPCC's Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere provides evidence that global warming has already reached 1°C above pre-industrial levels, causing the ocean to become warmer, more acidic, and less productive. Melting glaciers and ice sheets are leading to sea-level rise, and extreme weather events are becoming more severe, dramatically impacting coastal communities.

4. G-77 members are affected by climate change in different ways. From the UNCTAD 2022 report, LDCs account for only about 1.1% of total global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion, while SIDS contribute with less than 1% of total GHG emissions (IPCCC, 2018). At the same time, coastal and island countries with hot climates, particularly SIDS and most LDCs, are disproportionately bearing the adverse consequences of climate change with minor possibility to revert them. Seawater surface warming, sea-level rise, and extreme weather events are negatively impacting fisheries and aquaculture output and hindering the connectivity and productivity of maritime transport, ports, offshore energy, and tourist facilities.

5. Due to structural, institutional and economy limitations and with the aim of implementing ocean economy related commitments in NDCs, developing countries need massive support in terms of transfer of technology, capacity building and blue finance. The decarbonisation of ocean value chains will be important to secure exports, seize emerging ocean economic opportunities, enable resilience, and promote diversity through economic activities. This would be relevant to SIDS and LCDs as ocean-based sectors such as fisheries, seafood processing, maritime and port services, and coastal tourism represent a significant share of their GDP.

6. Shipping and air transport are the main lifelines for many developing countries, including SIDS and hence addressing challenges that undermine this sector is a critical sustainable development goal for them. Many developing countries are more prone to high transport costs, low shipping/transport connectivity, reduced export competitiveness and prohibitively priced imports. Impacts of rising costs will be harder on developing countries that export to distant markets, generated by the mere fact of the great distance to the final destination. Most of developing countries and are marginalized in international liner shipping networks, with low liner shipping connectivity levels. Concentrated markets in shipping together with low trade volumes and imbalances in flows are also undermining SIDS transport connectivity. Among the 50 least connected economies globally, 37 are SIDS. During the pandemic, SIDS experienced interrupted shipping services leading, in some cases, to shortages of foodstuffs and fresh food. The transport and logistics sector in SIDS is also highly dependent on imported fossil fuels, making decarbonization, including in transport and the attainment of SDGs economic, environmental and social targets in SIDS ever more challenging.

7. In this context, G77 and China expresses great appreciation for the support provided by UNCTAD in addressing the challenges faced by SIDS. UNCTAD's support plays an important role in assisting countries to embrace sustainable and low-carbon strategies and solutions for their freight transport systems. The G-77 acknowledges the vital role played by UNCTAD's research and data analysis efforts, such as the Review of Maritime Transport, as well as the organization's initiatives and programs, including sustainable freight transport and finance (and PPPs), and sustainable smart ports ad energy transition.

8. Seaports are essential for global trade-led development, and for the 'Blue Economy'. They provide access to global markets and supply-chains for all countries, including those that are landlocked, and are integral to maritime transport, as well as fisheries, offshore energy development, and many economic activities in coastal zones. But these critical infrastructure assets are at high and growing risk of climate change impacts, with important implications for global trade and the sustainable development prospects for the most vulnerable countries. As UNCTAD has been highlighting for many years, climate-resilience building and adaptation for seaports and other critical transport infrastructure is becoming an increasingly urgent imperative. However, as noted in a recent UNCTAD Policy Brief, better availability and access to infrastructure adaptation finance will be critical from the perspective of developing countries - often at the frontline of impacts, but with low adaptive capacity, and facing a COVID-related debt crisis. The G-77 strongly supports UNCTAD's continued active engagement on this important issue.

9. The maritime sector is currently at the centre stage of the debate on sustainability. To address this pressing issue, collaboration between UNCTAD and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is of essence.

10. Regarding the far-reaching implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, this Group highly appreciates UNCTAD's active and extensive engagement in collaborative efforts to help address the COVID-19 related seafarers and crew change crisis, which has major implications for their health, wellbeing and human rights. The G-77 also recognizes UNCTAD's technical assistance on 'Transport and trade connectivity in the age of pandemics', including extensive guidance, recommendations and training on the commercial law implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, which have been particularly useful in addressing some of the broad range of legal issues affecting traders across the globe. We appreciate, as well, the capacity building activities conducted since in port communities around the world through the TrainForTrade course on "Building Port Resilience against pandemics (BPR) and related emerging strategies derived from the experience of 4'600 participants from 163 countries (UNCTAD policy brief 96).

11. UNCTAD efforts to promote sustainable and resilient maritime supply chains and assist developing countries in addressing transport and trade logistics challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic are highly appreciated and welcome to continue. In particular, the G-77 value the capacity building guidebook to "Manage Risks and Enhance Resilience for Ports", which is further supported by a dedicated UNCTAD website on "Resilient Maritime Logistics" and case studies.

12. To end, we would like to welcome UNCTAD's continuous support in the field of trade facilitation and digitalization of international Trade and Customs procedures. These programs are essential for our group's members to continue to integrate into global supply and value chains and to increase their trade capacity while aligning with international and trade system and rules.

Thank you, Mr. President.