The WTO’s Trade and Environment Committee brings together WTO members to exchange information on their policies and to hear from the committee’s observers on developments in international organizations and multilateral environmental agreements.


Efforts to combat illegal logging

Cameroon presented its efforts to promote trade in legal timber products. These include improving transparency and strengthening governance in the national forestry sector, notably with respect to the issuance of forestry licences and the monitoring of forestry offences. As part of these efforts, Cameroon also signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union.

China presented its bilateral, regional and international cooperation and coordination efforts to combat illegal logging and address related trade issues as well as relevant national initiatives, including the publication of a “Guideline for Overseas Sustainable Forest Management and Utilization by Chinese Enterprises”. Chile, Chinese Taipei and Mexico also shared their national experiences on preventing illegal logging and associated trade.

The United Nations Forum on Forests presented the 2007 Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests containing global objectives to improve international cooperation and national action on forests such as capacity-building, finance and technology, and progress monitoring. The Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora ( CITES), Mr John E. Scanlon, presented recent work related to legal and illegal trade of forest products and other species.


Environmental footprint of products

The European Union updated WTO members on a pilot project presented at a previous meeting on the environmental footprint of products and organizations methodology under the European Union’s Single Market for Green Goods Products Initiative.

  • The three-year pilot phase of the project seeks to test the development of environmental footprint methodologies, and to examine related verification and communication methods. A broad range of industrial and agricultural products are covered, including meat, fish, IT equipment, shoes, T-shirts and beer.
  • Although WTO members welcomed this information, some cautioned against such measures becoming unnecessary trade barriers, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises. Others enquired about the pilot project’s coverage and future policy implications. The EU representative reiterated that the environmental footprinting initiative was voluntary, open and transparent. Its overall goal was to rationalize and simplify existing environmental footprint schemes, thus reducing costs for companies. Follow-up policies would be decided once the pilot phase ends in December 2016.


Reducing trade restrictions to natural gas

A representative of Qatar presented the environmental benefits of preventing and removing trade restrictions in the natural gas sector.


State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture

Following the request by several WTO members, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) presented its annual flagship publication on the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA), finding that total world fisheries production reached a new high in recent years and that the importance of aquaculture in future production of fish for food will continue to increase.  WTO members expressed growing concerns over the impact of overexploitation of global fishery stocks, particularly in relation to the sustainability of the environment and food security.


Plurilateral environmental talks

In an update to the WTO membership, participants of the plurilateral initiative towards an Environmental Goods Agreement, which was launched on 8 July 2014, explained that a first round of discussions in July had focused on setting the framework for negotiations, and that a second round in September had sought to identify possible product categories for liberalization.

While welcoming this update, some WTO developing country members commented on the coverage of this initiative and its relationship with the WTO negotiating mandate on trade and environment. 


Environmental provisions in Regional Trade Agreements

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)  presented their recent studies and workshops organized on the issue of environmental provisions in Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs). Also, in response to requests from WTO members, the WTO Secretariat made a presentation on the “Types of Environmental Provisions in Regional Trade Agreements”.


Information from and about other agencies

The committee also heard the latest information from a number of secretariats of multilateral environmental agreements and international organizations.

  • The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) introduced, among other studies, the “Green Economy and Trade” report launched in mid-2013 exploring triple-win situations for trade, development and environment in six green economy sectors, finding that many developing countries are well positioned to gain from mainstreaming sustainable trade growth.

Learn more about Trade and Environment in the WTO here.


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