Trade and Environment
The trade and environment nexus is a dynamic intersection for IISD where trade policy solutions are explored as a way to help tackle environmental challenges, including climate change, deforestation, marine plastic waste, biodiversity loss, and overexploitation of marine resources.
Our work on trade and environment has a long history, dating back to the earliest years of the organization. Our approach seeks to foster connections between the trade and environment communities, generate new ideas, and support policy-makers as they design environmentally friendly trade policies. But given the multistakeholder nature of these issues, we also go beyond policy-makers, engaging directly with academics, civil society, the private sector, and practitioners.
- World Trade Organization: We actively contribute to discussions among WTO Members on trade and environment issues, both during the annual WTO Trade and Environment Week and throughout the year. This includes input to negotiating processes, as well as non-negotiating work, such as how to incorporate sustainability considerations into aid directed at trade-related infrastructure.
- Multilateral Environmental Agreements: As part of the Geneva Environment Network, we play an active role in the environmental policy community, bringing a trade lens to discussions on plastic waste pollution and how to ensure coherence between multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and the trading system.
- NAP Global Network: We are also working with climate policy-makers as they develop their national adaptation plans (NAPs) so they can see which trade policy options can support these efforts, given the networks we have fostered at the country level as the secretariat for the NAP Global Network.
- Regional Developments: We regularly analyze the environmental provisions of regional trade agreements, looking to unpack what they mean from both legal and practical perspectives and advise policy-makers accordingly. We developed a sustainability toolkit for trade negotiators with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) designed to help trade and investment agreement negotiators as they seek to make new accords line up with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- Policy-maker Handbooks: Together with UNEP, we developed and regularly update a joint Trade and Green Economy handbook, which was written for policy-makers, practitioners, and the wider public.
- Voluntary Standards: Our work on sustainability standards under the State of Sustainability Initiatives has examined how the lessons from these voluntary schemes can inform trade and public procurement policy.
Reporting and Analysis
- News: Our reporting on the SDG Knowledge Hub has a dedicated section on trade, with new articles published every week that review the trade and environment nexus.
- Analysis: Our analytical commentaries in our flagship trade magazine, the Trade and Sustainability Review, and our joint webinar series with the University of Geneva’s Faculty of Law are spaces we have developed for exploring new ideas, developing an ever-wider community of practice, and encouraging a richer conversation on these vital issues.
Vice-President, Global Strategies and Managing Director, Europe
Director, Trade and Sustainable Development
Senior Policy Advisor
Lead II, Sustainability Standards
Policy Advisor I
To Reduce Global Plastic Pollution, Governments Should Tackle Most Problematic Products First
The relentless flow of plastic into the global ocean—already a threat to marine life and ecosystems—is on track to rise further, in large part because experts project that plastic production worldwide will double over the next two decades—which in turn would fuel a tripling of the amount of plastic waste entering the ocean each year.
Source to Sea: Integrating the water agenda in 2023
2023 could prove to be a definitive year for facilitating an integrative perspective on water issues, from fresh water to the marine environment.
Commerce des espèces menacées : la COP 19 prévoit de réglementer plus de 500 espèces supplémentaires (in French)
La 19e Conférence des parties à la Cites se termine sur un bilan plutôt positif en prévoyant de réglementer le commerce de plus de 500 espèces supplémentaires. Mais cela signifie aussi que le nombre d'espèces menacées augmente.
Battling to define success after the WTO summit
It’s a little over three days after the World Trade Organization ministerial came to an agreement as dawn broke over Lake Geneva, and I’m sure some attendees are still catching up on sleep. There’s been a veritable banquet since of hot takes for you to choose from. Among the more thoughtful and optimistic are this thread from academic and former WTO official Nicolas Lamp and this on the fishing subsidies issue from piscine guru Alice Tipping. In today’s main piece I talk with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the institution’s director-general, who was very pugnacious indeed in declaring the ministerial a success, and muse on a couple of themes about how negotiations work and what they mean.
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