Carla Romeu Dalmau, July 1st, 2019

"Making international trade more sustainable"


International trade can make a huge difference towards sustainability, as over half of what is produced globally crosses national borders. Several of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals – such as ‘no poverty’, ensuring ‘decent work’, and taking ‘climate action’ – crucially depend on transforming the way international trade is organized. But, transitioning to sustainability in international trade has all the traits of a ‘wicked problem’: everyone involved recognizes that change is needed, but no single entity acting on its own can make it happen. Therefore, various players – businesses, governments, NGOs, farmers, unions, and trade associations – must work together in coalitions, and they must design innovations within and across several domains, such as technology, policy, and economics, simultaneously.

In this presentation, Carla will explain how at IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, they work towards achieving sustainability transitions in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South America, by creating collaborations between companies, governments and civil society organizations, that stimulate sustainable production and trade of tropical agricultural commodities such as palm oil, cocoa, tea, coffee, and bananas.


Carla is the Senior Manager of Strategy & Innovation at IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative. IDH is an international organization that convenes, finances and manages large programs to accelerate transitions towards sustainability together with companies, governments and civil society. IDH is headquartered in the Netherlands and is funded by different governments of the north of Europe and several foundations such as Bill & Belinda Gates Foundation. 

Within IDH, Carla drives IDH learning and innovation agenda to achieve a fairer distribution of value along the supply chains of several sectors such as cocoa, tea, bananas and coffee.

Previously she worked 8 years as a researcher at the University of Oxford (UK), the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain) and the University of California (USA). During her time in academia, her main research projects related to cotton farming (in India), biofuel feedstock production in Africa and citrus farming in the USA and Spain. She holds a PhD on Terrestrial Ecology from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and a MSc in Interdisciplinary Studies in Environmental, Economic and Social Sustainability from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA). She has published twelve peer-reviewed publications on agriculture, sustainability, ecosystem services and poverty.