Good morning Ministers, Excellencies, colleagues, and those following us virtually today. I would like to thank the coordinators of the TESSD, IDP, and FFSR declarations for their invitation to offer concluding remarks.

As our Director-General said earlier this morning, this is a historic moment for the WTO and an important waypoint for the multilateral trading system to recognize that it can and must act on climate change and environmental degradation.

The fact that more than 80 co-sponsors across the three statements represent 86% of global trade demonstrates that the WTO can and must play a role on environmental issues.(1)

While we celebrate the launch of the three Ministerial Declaration today, it is important to recognize that work has only just begun.

Since this is the season for this, I would like to make three wishes for the future of this work.

Firstly, I wish that the three undertakings will very much draw on the contributions of their stakeholders, that we have heard today: partners from international organizations, civil society, academia, and the private sector.

Why is this important? Because what you are engaging today is not merely about correcting marginally some negative environmental impact from trade. 

What you are engaging in aims at turning international trade into a force supporting the fundamental transition of the world economy toward sustainability. This is a reorganization of business practices and the market economy itself. At the level of each enterprise, getting rid of plastic pollution or driving down carbon emissions will require a fundamental transformation of every business function: the design of goods and services, finance, supply management, production, distribution…    

The private sector is already gearing up for this transformation. International Organizations and coalitions are also bringing in a lot of input for innovative solutions. The role of your initiatives will be to drill down on this input and turn it into trade actions.

Secondly, I wish that the three Ministerial declarations will soon lead to creative and pragmatic results.

Creativity will be needed because negotiators may have to move beyond the classical “give and take” negotiating technique that the WTO has inherited from the GATT. Delivering public goods will require looking at the negotiations with a fresh eye, looking for the common “win”. Beyond the mere exchange of trade concessions, achieving a global public good will require bringing together positive member contributions in new ways and configurations.

Pragmatism will be needed to envisage results not only in terms of classical trade agreements but also having in mind the full array of tools that can contribute to shaping sustainable trade outcomes: dissemination of best practices, voluntary guidelines, technical assistance, legal commitments, public-private partnerships, etc.  

Thirdly, I wish that the three undertakings will take full benefit from the diversity of their members.

While their raison d'être is the pursuit and delivery of global public goods, it is important to recognize that not all WTO Members have the same capacity to move at the same speed. By its very nature the objective of Sustainable Development entails a “just transition”.

By joining hands across these three environmental endeavours, developing and developed countries can develop new and constructive trade solutions that can work for all and bridge any geopolitical divide or lack of trust.  

This is what will ensure that the progress made will also benefit Members that are not yet involved at this stage and this will help convince them to join.

As you can judge from my three wishes, I think that the three discussions that you are undertaking today have the great potential of being a full-sized laboratory for some aspects of the WTO of the future.

Is that too much of a dream? Not so much if one realizes how far we have travelled already in changing the paradigm. Questions have already changed from “how to derogate from trade rules to pursue environmental objectives?” to “how can trade make a positive contribution to the environment?”

So, with such an inspiration for the future in mind, let me once again congratulate the co-sponsors of the three Ministerial Statements. They provide an invaluable foundation for the important work that lies ahead. Thank you for your kind attention.


  1. Overall, 81 Members are co-sponsors of at least one the three initiatives, accounting for 86% of world trade in goods and services.
    TESSD:70 Members accounting for 82% of world trade
    IDP: 67 Members, accounting for 68% of world trade (around 75% of plastics trade)
    FFSR: 44 Members, accounting for 38% of world trade
    Back to text




Problems viewing this page? If so, please contact [email protected] giving details of the operating system and web browser you are using.