Where is the next innovation in sustainable finance in Geneva likely to come from ? Perhaps from the “ trade finance ” sector. Many observers expect that the next wave of post – 2008 financial regulation will likely address commodity trading and more specifically some of its practices, which may become more strictly supervised by regulators. Geneva and the Lake Geneva region are leaders in the field of international commodity trading, providing an increasing share of trading in several commodities such as oil and coffee. This involves essentially physical trading with a cluster consisting of companies that provide chartering, banks that provide finance and Swiss companies like SGS that certify products worldwide.
The commodities sector has often been in the spotlight in recent years. It has faced questions regarding the transparency of its activities as well as the effects of its actions on the price of commodities — in particular on the price of food. International organizations based in Geneva have been particularly concerned about these two issues and are now seeking to work together with Geneva’s leading commodities institutions, which meet annually in the Lake Geneva region for three major international events *. A working group was formed on the initiative of UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) in the spring of 2014. This commission is today working on the governance of the raw materials value chain.
This working group reflects the approach of the Geneva laboratory : it brings together the complementary expertise of a highly diverse group of stakeholders around a common theme. These stakeholders are from both the private and the public sectors and include representatives of several countries (including Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco and Switzerland), international organizations and NGOs (World Vision International, Café Africa), universities and media outlets (ICPublications, Agefi), research organizations (GeoE-conomica) and trading houses (Mercuria Energy Trading, Trafigura) and their umbrella organization in Switzerland, the GTSA (Geneva Trading & Shipping Association).
* Financial Times Global Commodities Summit, GTSA Trading Forum and UNCTAD’s Global Commodities Forum.