Going beyond MDG 8

The WTO’s contribution to the achievement of the MDGs goes beyond MDG 8. The WTO’s activities also have an impact on MDG 7, which aims to ensure environmental sustainability and to protect biodiversity. The Agreement establishing the WTO recognizes that members’ economic relations should be conducted in a way that allows “for the optimal use of the world’s resources in accordance with the objective of sustainable development”.

While there is no specific agreement dealing with environmental issues, WTO members are nonetheless involved in negotiations that explore the relationship between trade and the environment, assessing their mutual impact and working to enhance their supportiveness. For example, an issue that is currently being negotiated by WTO members concerns specific disciplines on fisheries subsidies, which contribute to over-fishing. A significant reduction of such subsidies would have a positive impact on preserving the shrinking fish stocks of our oceans. This outcome will support MDG 7, as will negotiations which are taking place on the trade opening of environmental goods and services, which would help to boost global trade in this area. Improving countries’ ability to obtain high-quality environmental goods and to disseminate environmental technologies at lower costs would improve access to goods and technologies that can contribute to environmental protection.

WTO activities are also having a fundamental impact on MDG 1, which aims to eradicate poverty and hunger. While the relationship between open trade and growth is quite complex, it is widely recognized that the WTO’s work is having an impact on achieving MDG 1 because open trade, accompanied by sound domestic and international policies, can lead to enhanced levels of growth and poverty reduction. Attaining MDG 1 will thus support countries in meeting their social objectives and in achieving all the MDGs.