Event Recap

New Atlanticist

Jul 14, 2021

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on how the WTO can tackle vaccine scarcity and global recovery

By Katherine Walla

The unequal global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is fragile, warned World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and “there’s one thing behind that all: The issue of vaccine equity.”

Africa Coronavirus

The Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomics Center hosted a conversation with the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on July 13, 2021. Director-General Okonjo-Iweala has been chosen to lead the WTO at one of the most challenging moments in the history of the institution. After navigating tariff disputes and trade wars in 2018 and 2019, the WTO is now at the center of helping restart the engine of global trade. As vaccination efforts continue, countries are looking to see how the WTO will address critical issues including vaccine nationalism and supply chain bottlenecks. For a historic moment, the member nations of the WTO made a historic selection. Director-General Okonjo-Iweala is the first woman and first African to lead the organization. Director-General Okonjo-Iweala joined the Council for a candid conversation on the WTO’s priorities and her vision for 2021 and beyond. What role should intellectual property play in promoting equitable vaccine distribution? How can citizens left behind by the forces of global trade over the past several decades be supported? These are just some of the many challenges facing the WTO.

The GeoEconomics Center presented this live event as part of the Atlantic Council’s #ACFrontPage event series, our premier ideas platform spotlighting global leaders and championing constructive solutions to global challenges. From publishing timely commentary and analysis, to providing a platform for leaders driving the crisis response, the GeoEconomics Center is combining foreign policy, economic, and financial expertise to help re-imagine the post COVID-19 world.

An #ACFrontPage Event

Atlantic Council Front Page is our premier live ideas platform for global leaders to discuss the defining challenges of our time. #ACFrontPage is a high-level event series featuring top newsmakers across multiple digital platforms. Harnessing the convening power and expertise of the Council’s sixteen programs and centers, #ACFrontPage leverages the Council’s capabilities in social media, press, and digital outreach to spotlight the world’s most prominent leaders and the most compelling ideas across sectors and engage new audiences eager for nonpartisan and constructive solutions to current global challenges. This widely promoted program features the Council’s most important guests and content serving as the highlight of our programming.


Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

World Trade Organization

Moderated by

At the intersection of economics, finance, and foreign policy, the GeoEconomics Center is a translation hub with the goal of helping shape a better global economic future.