Draft Ministerial Declaration Highlights Environmentally Sustainable Trade | News | SDG Knowledge Center
A large group of members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) released a draft ministerial declaration on trade and sustainability on December 15. The text is the result of the Structured Discussions on Trade and Environmental Sustainability (TESSD), launched in November 2020 during WTO Trade and Environment Week, where 53 WTO members said they were planning “To collaborate, prioritize and advance discussions on trade and environmental sustainability”.
the launch of the declaration was delayed after the postponement of the Twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC 12), which was due to start on November 30, due to travel restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of three ministerial statements launched on December 15, along with statements on plastic pollution and trade in environmentally friendly plastics and reform of fossil fuel subsidies.
the draft ministerial declaration (WT / MIN (21) / 6) recognizes “sustainable development and the protection and preservation of the environment” as “fundamental objectives of the WTO”, and recognizes the role of international trade and trade policy for supporting environmental and climate goals and promoting more sustainable consumption and production to help achieve the SDGs. It also notes the importance of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) in the pursuit of these goals, including the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD ), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
The document identifies “environmental sustainability as a central issue for the WTO agenda”. He describes the initiative as complementary to existing WTO processes, noting the work carried out in the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE) and in other WTO bodies “where it is raise environmental issues ”, and reaffirms that structured discussions“ are not intended to duplicate other initiatives at the WTO ”and elsewhere.
The draft declaration highlights scientific and evidence-based contributions to TESDD by stakeholders and reiterates the commitment to continue dialogue with stakeholders while improving transparency. It also notes recent and ongoing efforts by WTO members to address through dialogue and information sharing issues “where trade, environmental and climate policies intersect”, such as, inter alia, the economy. circular, natural disasters, climate change mitigation and adaptation, fossil fuels subsidy reform, plastic pollution and the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
In the operational part of the communiqué, the ministers agree to:
- Intensify work to identify concrete actions in areas of common interest “to broaden opportunities for ecologically sustainable trade”;
- Initiate “dedicated discussions” to explore ways in which trade-related climate action can contribute to climate and environmental goals;
- Explore opportunities and approaches to facilitate trade in environmental goods and services in order to achieve environmental and climate goals;
- Compile best practices and explore “possibilities for voluntary actions and partnerships” to ensure that trade and trade policies contribute to: a more resource efficient circular economy; sustainable supply chains; and better access to environmental goods and services;
- Identify challenges and opportunities for sustainable trade, including for developing and least developed countries (LDCs), and encourage capacity building and technical assistance on trade and environmental sustainability, such as through the Aid for Trade bias; and
- Support discussions and the role of the WTO in addressing the “environmental and trade effects of relevant subsidies”.
In addition, ministers adopt a TESSD roadmap for 2022, with progress to be reviewed after one year. The roadmap, annexed to the draft declaration, provides a timeline from February to December 2022, which envisages the adoption and implementation of a TESSD work plan based on the operational part of the MC12 declaration, with an event high level inventory that will be organized upon completion.
The draft Ministerial Declaration was released on November 15, 2021 at the request of the following 57 WTO Members: Albania; Australia; Austria; Belgium; Bulgaria; Canada; Chad; Chile; China; Colombia; Costa Rica; Croatia; Cyprus; the Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; the EU; Fiji; Finland; France; the Gambia; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Japan; Kazakhstan; the Republic of Korea; Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Maldives; Malta; Mexico; Moldova; Montenegro; the Netherlands; New Zealand; North Macedonia; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Senegal; Singapore; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Separate customs territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu; Great Britain; and the United States.