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 Trade and Sustainability Review. We hold regular 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.
Taking Stock of 2021: A to-do list for the WTO in the circular economy transition
This virtual event examines various concrete actions and future workstreams that could be taken at the World Trade Organization to support carbon neutrality and the transition to a circular economy.
Trade and Sustainability Hub
This three-day event brought together over 50 partners, 150 speakers, and 1000 participants to examine policy issues related to trade and sustainable development.
Fisheries Subsidies Refresher Sessions | November Update
This series of two webinars explores WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies and the Chair's draft consolidated text.
Border Carbon Adjustment Mechanisms for the Concerned
This dialogue on Border Carbon Adjustment (BCA) policy design convened trade and environment officials from countries likely to be directly affected by BCAs.
Executive Director, IISD Europe; Senior Director, Economic Law & Policy
Senior Director, Energy
Senior Manager, Communications & Engagement
Senior Policy Advisor
Policy Advisor, Fisheries Subsidies
Writer, Earth Negotiations Bulletin
Lead, Sustainability Standards
Soledad Leal Campos
Lead, Sustainable Trade
Director, Agriculture, Trade & Investment
Lead, Sustainable Trade and Fisheries Subsidies
Senior Director, Tracking Progress
Senior Law Advisor
Canada’s biggest emitters are paying the lowest carbon tax rate
On its oil sands in northern Alberta, Suncor Energy scrapes vast open-pit mines and drills down deep into the ground to extract the viscous bitumen that has turned it into one of the largest energy companies in North America. The process is so energy-intensive that it has also made the firm into Canada’s largest carbon emitter: it belches roughly 28 million tonnes into the atmosphere every year, equivalent to the entire emissions of Tunisia.
EU Lawmaker Wants Carbon Border Tax to Cover More Goods, Enter Into Force Sooner
The lawmaker leading the European Parliament’s work on an EU carbon border tax has submitted a draft report on the proposal to establish a carbon border adjustment mechanism.
Development economist: U.S., EU might not see eye-to-eye on steel deal
While some in the U.S. view a recent deal with the European Union to resolve tariffs on steel and aluminum as a step toward a so-called “climate club” approach to global decarbonization, the EU likely will not, according to an economist who has been studying policies designed to guard against “carbon leakage.”
Supporting Marine Fishing Sustainably: A review of central and state government support for marine fisheries in India
This report provides an inventory of support measures to marine fisheries in India and identifies programs that are key priorities for an in-depth evaluation of impacts from socio-economic and environmental sustainability perspectives.
Carbon border adjustments are back in the spotlight
Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s recently released mandate letter will keep her busy for the foreseeable future.
Sustainable Food Systems in Canada
IISD undertook a scoping exercise to hear from our staff, civil society, and policy partners about what they see as some of the biggest challenges in charting a path to sustainable food systems in Canada.
Sustainable Food Systems in Canada: Building a vision for IISD
IISD undertook an exercise to examine how and whether we could better engage on sustainable food systems in Canada.
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.