Trade cooperation at the WTO must be harnessed sustainably to protect the environment and ensure inclusiveness and prosperity for the world’s people, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General, said on World Environment Day on 5 June. Ongoing discussions for trade and environment outcomes at the upcoming 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) are highly encouraging, she said.
“The well-being of people is dependent upon the well-being of our planet, and trade can play an important role here,” DG Okonjo-Iweala said. “By connecting people and markets, trade helps lower costs and disseminate new environmental technologies. Trade can make resource use more efficient, reducing the strain on our ecosystems. New trade rules can help our economies become greener, cleaner, more prosperous, and more inclusive.”
“I am extremely encouraged to see the increasing levels of engagement by WTO members towards outcomes on environmental sustainability and trade at our Ministerial Conference later this year,” she said. MC12 will take place from 30 November to 3 December 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. “A key WTO priority is therefore to conclude an agreement this year to protect our oceans by ending harmful fisheries subsidies. WTO members are also discussing new initiatives to improve trade’s contribution to environmental sustainability, including the liberalization of trade in environmental goods and services, fossil fuel subsidy reform, the transition to a circular economy, plastics pollution and sustainable supply chains,” she said, noting the importance as well to collaborate on this year’s UN Climate Change COP26.
“International cooperation is essential to achieving our collective commitments to protect the environment, mitigate climate change and prevent biodiversity loss and deforestation. As economies recover from COVID-19, we have an opportunity to build back better and greener and bluer. Nature is the source of our health and prosperity, and we must all act together to restore, protect and strengthen our ecosystems,” DG Okonjo-Iweala said.