The Hemispheric Trade and Sustainability Symposium was held in Quebec City on April 17th - 19th, 2001, a few days before the third Summit of the Americas. The overall goal of the Symposium was to provide a constructive, policy-oriented, and knowledge-based open forum for dialogue on trade and sustainability issues in the Americas.

The Symposium gathered more than 200 participants from civil society, government, industry and academia from across the Americas. These participants represented a broad diversity of countries, backgrounds, institutional bases, and perspectives. Presentations and debates were delivered to a varied audience: policy makers in trade and environment ministries, environment and development NGOs, research institutes, hemispheric and regional institutions, business and academia. Over the course of three days, Symposium participants worked to identify policy options that are mutually beneficial to trade, environment, and development. Many felt that if such options could be identified and proposed to policy-makers and negotiators, this could lead to better Americas cooperation in these areas, and increasing public support for the Americas integration agenda.

Discussions focused on the FTAA process and its relationship with broader hemispheric environmental cooperation processes. Building on other recent research and policy dialogue initiatives by partner institutions, the event served to identify key issues, institutional and policy models for hemispheric trade and environment cooperation. The Symposium assembled an excellent cross-sampling of current hemispheric knowledge and expertise on these issues, delivering results in terms of policy options and recommendations for reconciling trade and sustainability agendas in the Americas.

The Symposium and recommendations emerging from participating institutions and experts have led to diverse results. A book based on papers presented at the Symposium, ‘Beyond the Barricades: An FTAA Sustainable Development Agenda’, edited by M.C. Cordonier Segger, and M. Leichner, is forthcoming with Kumarian Press in 2004. In addition, the event set forward a new model for dialogues and forums parallel to Summits and Trade Ministerials, one which has led to further such forums. It led to new academic and legal research, building hemispheric partnership projects and cross-disciplinary cooperation which could follow up from the Quebec City Summit of the Americas. It also generated increased capacity for dialogue and awareness, and contributed directly toward sustainable development oriented proposals from different countries in the negotiation of the FTAA.