Vanessa Erogbogbo

Arrived in Geneva: August 2011

Organization and Role: Chief, Sustainable and Inclusive Value Chains section at the International Trade Centre

Hometown:  Always a difficult question for an international person, so I will go with Kampala

Please tell us who you are and what you do in Geneva?

I have an eclectic background. After studying Civil Engineering and Business, I worked in banking and then entered the development finance world. For the past 10 years I have worked at the International Trade Centre (ITC), where I am now the chief of ITC’s section on Sustainable and Inclusive Value Chains (SIVC).

At SIVC, we work on some of the most exciting trade issues of the day, driving the agenda on a number of sustainability topics. The section is the anchor for ITC’s work on women and trade, traceability, and transparency of sustainability in value chains, and trade and environmental sustainability. It is organised around three complementary programmatic areas contributing to the achievements of several SDGs, such as SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production), SDG 13 (Climate Action) and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals):

  • The SheTrades initiative aims to increase the benefits women derive from trade. The initiative, launched in late 2015 to coincide with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has a goal of connecting 3 million women to market by 2021.
  • The T4SD programme, provides greater clarity on the sustainability landscape across value chains, to promote social responsibility and environmental sustainability.
  • The GreenToCompete activator works with Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in developing countries to help them harness the opportunities of the green transition through trade.

How does your organization reflect the 2030 Agenda’s paradigms of innovation, integration and collaboration in its activities?

In addition to day-to-day projects tackling interlinkages among SDGs, SIVC houses some of the most innovative tools relating to sustainable trade including Sustainability map, which hosts the world’s most comprehensive database of voluntary sustainability standards, and which hosts a first of its kind tool to help policy makers integrate gender into their trade related policies. Through these platforms we offer curated information, learning content, and business networking opportunities to the tens of thousands of registered business profiles. We also partner with local organisations and businesses to promote local ownership and a participatory approach for our in-country activities.  

An important measure of our success is how well these themes are integrated across ITC’s portfolio, as such, a significant aspect of our work is to support colleagues across the house address these inclusiveness and sustainability themes.

What do you find unique about the Geneva ecosystem of actors?

Geneva is a centre of governance for a number of global priorities that require multilateral cooperation. From health to human rights to international trade, Geneva provides a unique platform for stakeholders to convene and solve the big challenges that matter to communities around the world. The Geneva ecosystem is enriched by the wide range of actors including academic institutions, the private sector and civil society, engaged in multilateral processes committed to creating a better world. I feel truly privileged to be here, right now, at such a pivotal moment in history, making my small contribution.

What is on your mind right now?

The last half of the year is an important period for the trade community. The WTO 12th ministerial conference will take place here in Geneva in the last week of November/first week of December, and before that the 26th Conference of the Parties in Glasgow, as well as the WTO’s Public Forum. These provide trade stakeholders key milestones to highlight priorities and good initiatives, as well as to advance shared goals. As we consider a post pandemic world, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to leverage our expertise and tools to support, particularly our beneficiary countries, making the most of these opportunities.

What is your favourite thing to do in and around Geneva?

I love long walks in the Geneva country side, picnicking by the lake, and enjoying great meals that reflect the multicultural and diverse nature of this magical city. I look forward to going to live events like the Geneva Open, concerts and other shows as the city begins to open up again.

What is one thing that most people do not know about you?

A few years ago I took part in a reality TV show, that was such great fun!