On 22-23 June 2011, UNCTAD organizes a public symposium about ‘Making Trade and Finance Work For People and The Planet’. SOMO’s Senior researcher Rens van Tilburg is attending and contributing based on the many related research SOMO has been undertaken recently.

As a contribution to the symposium, SOMO has submitted a short description on how the EU is slowly regulating derivatives markets while the financial industry tries to weaken the draft EU laws. This EU regulation will not only affect developing countries. If they remain risky with high volume of socially useless speculative activities, they can contribute to another financial crisis. But the increasing number of financial players in food and other commodity derivatives markets as well as under-regulated foreign exchange derivatives can also have negative consequences on developing countries. The case study on the financial sector in South Korea is an example on how dangerous the use of foreign exchange swaps can become for a country. From a civil society perspective, many improvements are warranted to the EU’s derivatives regulation as well as to the EU’s fysical food markets and food production.

Many EU regulations will have an impact on developing countries and sustainable development but this is hardly debated. SOMO still welcomes comments on its updated discussion paper on how the EU’s financial reforms affect developing countries and what can be done about it. In the mean time, SOMO continues to monitor the ongoing EU financial reforms in a bi-monthly Newsletter (see: https://somo.nl/dossiers-en/sectors/financial/eu-financial-reforms/newsletters ) to which all can subscribe.

Also related to the theme of the UNCTAD symposium are the papers published by Friends of the Earth and BankTrack, to which SOMO has contributed, on how banking could become more socially and environmentally sustainable in the current financial reforms (Seven steps to make banks more sustainable in 2011 and In 2011 European decision makers can make banks more sustainable). These proposals contrast with the total lack of integration of sustainability in the current banking reforms (e.g. “Basel III”). UNCTAD’s symposium can raise other ideas from civil society all over the world how the financial sector reforms should benefit people and the planet.

SOMO researcher @RensvanTilburg is attending the symposium and giving an update on twitter.