TRADE AND ENVIRONMENT

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The joint publication details how governments can work together to ensure that trade and a healthy environment reinforce each other. It makes the case that opening up trade in environmental goods and services is a triple win for the economy, the environment and development. According to the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, new business opportunities brought about by a more sustainable world economy could be worth an estimated US$ 12 trillion annually by 2030.

Director-General Azevêdo said:

"Executive Director Solheim and I have pledged to work together in support of sustainable trade. This new report is a blueprint to deliver that goal. WTO rules have led to tariffs being cut in half since 1995, to lower trade costs and to greater certainty and stability in the global trading system. These are essential elements to help the green economy expand and flourish, but they are not sufficient in themselves – we must do more.

"To ensure that trade is sustainable, while continuing to deliver benefits for jobs, growth and economic prosperity, governments must work to make trade and environmental policies complementary. Examples of this could include agreeing deep cuts in fish-depleting subsidies and the scaling back of trade barriers on environmental goods and services. The WTO is the place to deliver progress on these issues."

Executive Director Solheim said:

"We already have many champions and pioneers that are showing us every day how the economy of the future can work. Innovation can help us overcome environmental challenges. We must do everything we can to support these frontrunners to unlock trade in green sectors and move us towards more sustainable ways of consuming and production. When we do this, we will find huge opportunities for prosperity and jobs."

The joint publication emphasizes that to maximise the contribution of trade to a better and more resilient environment, action would be needed in the following areas:

  • collaborative work focusing on strengthening multilateral cooperation and governance,
  • fostering private-public partnerships to facilitate market-oriented approaches that allow trade and environment to be mutually supportive,
  • encouraging national policy makers to work together across environment and trade domains,
  • fostering "win-win" opportunities which provide economic and environmental benefits,
  • supporting decision-makers from the world's poorest countries, along with vulnerable groups and under-represented communities, in preserving natural assets,
  • delivering inclusive, gender-sensitive outcomes for environmental and trade policy to support broader goals within the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda,
  • raising awareness among stakeholders on the role of trade in environmental sustainability and resilience to climate change.

This publication is being launched by DG Azevêdo and Executive Director Solheim during the WTO Public Forum (2-4 October) which this year has sustainability as one of its core themes. Alongside the high-level event mentioned above, the Forum will feature an exhibition with cutting-edge environmental technologies from around the world.

The partnership between the two bodies was announced in January 2018. It seeks to highlight practical ways to bring trade and the environmental policies closer together.

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