IISD has been working on international trade for over two decades, analyzing the issue from multiple perspectives: scientific, economic, fiscal, legal, social, and environmental.
At the intergovernmental level, IISD has a long history of working on reforms to the World Trade Organization’s rules and members’ ability to engage in those processes. IISD has also built an extensive body of work on regional and plurilateral trade agreements, as well as the interlinkages between multilateral environmental agreements and the trading system.
At the sectoral level, we have explored options for new industrial policies functioning within a rules-based system; innovative financing for sustainable infrastructure; border-carbon adjustment measures; and whether trade can accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources, improve food security, and eliminate harmful fisheries subsidies and fossil fuel subsidies. Our work also unpacks the relationship between voluntary sustainability standards and trade, as well as the role of trade in contributing to the circular economy.
IISD's work in this area is backed by robust research and policy analysis, along with regular engagement with the varied stakeholder communities involved in and affected by trade and trade policy. A core part of this engagement involves our work to promote transparency and support informed trade conversations.
We feature in-depth commentary and analysis in Investment Treaty News, the Global Subsidies Initiative, the SDG Knowledge Hub, and the Trade and Sustainability Review. We hold webinars on issues at the heart of the trade and sustainability nexus, as part of our partnership with the University of Geneva's Faculty of Law.
Our work on trade issues is made possible through the generous support of our funders. These include:
- UK aid from the UK government, including its Trade and Investment Advocacy Fund (TAF2+);
- the Pew Charitable Trusts;
- the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ);
- the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida);
- the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Swedish MFA);
- the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZ MFAT);
- the Government of Finland.
Trade and Sustainability Hub
Bringing together communities and stakeholders from around the world to discuss how trade policy can contribute to sustainable development.
Trade and Sustainability Review
A quarterly publication with a focus on the most active policy issues being discussed at the intersection of trade and sustainable development.
Global Subsidies Initiative
A program designed to put the spotlight on subsidies and the corrosive effects they can have on environmental quality, economic development, and governance.
Fisheries Subsidies That Contribute to Overcapacity and Overfishing: A review of the science and key decisions in the WTO negotiations
The objective of this workshop is to complement official discussions of the WTO by providing additional detail on the history of the fisheries subsidies negotiations, in order to inform delegations’ deliberations about how best to proceed.
The WTO Fisheries Subsidies Agreement: Launch of IISD’s self-assessment tool for implementation
This hybrid launch event for WTO members aims to introduce the new self-assessment toolkit that governments can use to support their efforts to implement the new fisheries subsidies agreement at home.
IISD at the WTO's Trade and Environment Week 2022
IISD is participating in the 2022 edition of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Trade and Environment Week, taking place from October 17 to 21, 2022, both in-person in Geneva and online.
Role of Trade in the Fight Against Plastic Pollution: Refresher for New Delegates
The session provided a short and focused introduction to trade’s role fighting plastic pollution and the work done by the WTO members, as well as the links to the broader context of the UN negotiations for a global plastics treaty and expectations surrounding that process.
Executive Director, IISD Europe; Senior Director, Economic Law & Policy
Senior Manager, Communications & Engagement
Senior Policy Advisor
Policy Analyst, Trade and Agriculture
Lead, Public Procurement and Sustainable Infrastructure Policy and Coordinator of the NBI Global Resource Centre
Policy Advisor, Fisheries Subsidies
Senior Policy Advisor, Tracking Progress
Lead II, Sustainability Standards
Lead, Sustainable Trade
Senior Director, Tracking Progress
A Global Deal to Tackle Harmful Fisheries Subsidies: A look behind the scenes
In June 2022, World Trade Organization members reached a historic deal tackling harmful fisheries subsidies. We unpack how a global campaign by environmental non-governmental organizations and technical policy and legal advice from trade experts in Geneva helped make a difference.
The WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies: What it means and why it matters
After more than two decades of negotiations, members of the World Trade Organization concluded an Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies in June 2022. What does it entail, and why does this treaty matter?
Self-Assessment Tool for the Implementation of the WTO Fisheries Subsidies Agreement
As World Trade Organization Members prepare for the entry into force of the new Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, this new tool aims to support their implementation efforts.
Do due diligence laws actually promote climate smart food?
EU-proposed due-diligence legislation has been criticised for triggering unintended consequences across the supply chain, which begs the question: will such a law actually promote climate smart food?
Russia’s Aggression Against Ukraine: Global trade implications after 7 months of war
Olesia Kryvetska discusses rising commodity and energy prices, the food security crisis and supply chain disruptions as the main implications since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
World Bank’s Mari Pangestu: Time to walk the walk on mainstreaming gender in decision making
Jennifer Freedman interviews Mari Pangestu, managing director of development policy of the World Bank, to discuss gender mainstreaming in policy decisions.
The Role of Technology Sanctions in Crippling Russia’s War Machine
Iryna Bogdanova examines the role of technology sanctions and their effectiveness on Russia in the Russia-Ukraine war.
Investment Law & Policy
How can we ensure developing countries attract the sort of investment that promotes sustainable development?
Fossil fuel subsidies make little sense in a world shifting to low-carbon sources of energy to tackle climate change.
Standards and Value Chains
Voluntary sustainability standards contribute to biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction, and gender equality.
Governance and Multilateral Agreements
The frameworks that govern economies and our ecosystems touch every aspect of our lives—and have implications for sustainable, inclusive development.
Food and Agriculture
Agriculture is on the front lines of nearly all urgent global challenges, from hunger to climate change to rising inequality.
In a circular economy, products are designed, produced, and used to reduce waste and regenerate natural systems.