The World Trade Organization (WTO) and partners took stock of current environment-trade connections at a special event marking the WTO's 20th anniversary, on the theme, '20 Years of Building Pathways to Sustainable Development,' in cooperation with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
28 April 2015: The World Trade Organization (WTO) and partners took stock of current environment-trade connections at a special event marking the WTO’s 20th anniversary, on the theme, ’20 Years of Building Pathways to Sustainable Development,’ in cooperation with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
The one-day event in Geneva, Switzerland, on 28 April 2015, featured a high-level panel discussion on the global environment and trade, and an expert panel on the evolution of trade and environment jurisprudence.
In opening remarks, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo highlighted the role of the WTO in ensuring that trade contributes to environmental goals. He said the respective well-being of habitats, societies and economies are inextricably linked, and called on all concerned to ensure that trade and environmental policies work better together at the national as well as international levels.
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said that trade on its own will not drive sustainable development, but will only do so under conducive policies, emphasizing that new governance structures must not come at the cost of the environment, but rather should be the drivers of an inclusive green economy. He anticipated cooperating closely with the WTO in preparations for the Second UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), taking place in Nairobi in 2016.
John Scanlon, Secretary General, Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), highlighted the collaborative and supportive manner in which the Convention and the WTO have worked. He highlighted that over the past twenty years there had not been a single WTO dispute directly challenging a CITES trade measure, and noted that both the WTO and CITES, “can be seen as two open and transparent rules-based regimes with robust dispute resolution mechanisms.”
Other speakers included Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions, and Joakim Reiter, Deputy Secretary-General, UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
The WTO released an information booklet marking its anniversary, on ‘Building Pathways to Sustainable Development: Trade and Enviroment,’ which underscores that WTO members have the right to adopt trade-related measures to protect the environment, giving examples where this has occurred, including measures relating to the protection of tuna, dolphin and turtle stocks. [WTO Event Webpage] [UNEP Press Release] [CITES Statement] [Building Pathways to Sustainable Development: Trade and Environment]