Sustainable development and protection and
preservation of the environment are fundamental goals of the WTO. They
are enshrined in the Marrakesh Agreement, which established the WTO, and
complement the WTO’s objective to reduce trade barriers and eliminate
discriminatory treatment in international trade relations. While there
is no specific agreement dealing with the environment, under WTO rules
members can adopt trade-related measures aimed at protecting the
environment provided a number of conditions to avoid the misuse of such
measures for protectionist ends are fulfilled.
The WTO contributes to protection and
preservation of the environment through its objective of trade openness,
through its rules and enforcement mechanism, through work in different
WTO bodies, and through ongoing efforts under the Doha Development
Agenda. The Doha Agenda includes specific negotiations on trade and
environment and some tasks assigned to the regular Trade and Environment
Trade and environment, as an issue, is by no means new. The link between trade and environmental protection — both the impact of environmental policies on trade, and the impact of trade on the environment — was recognized as early as 1970. Towards the end of the Uruguay Round (1986–1994), attention was once again drawn to trade-related environmental issues, and the role of the soon-to-be-created World Trade Organization.
The Trade and Environment Committee is the standing forum dedicated to dialogue
between governments on the impact of trade policies on the environment, and of
environment policies on trade. Created in 1995, the Committee has followed a
comprehensive work programme.
Under the Doha Development Agenda, the regular committee is also looking at the
effects of environmental measures on market access, the intellectual property
agreement and biodiversity, and labelling for environmental purposes.
the Doha Round, WTO members are negotiating certain aspects of
the link between trade and the environment, particularly the
relationship between the WTO’s agreements and those of other
agencies, and market access for environmental goods and
talks take place in “Special Sessions” of the Trade and
Measures aimed at protecting the environment come in various shapes and forms. Under WTO rules, as confirmed by WTO jurisprudence, members can adopt trade-related measures aimed at protecting the environment, subject to certain specified conditions.
The issue of climate change, per se, is not part of the WTO's ongoing work programme and there are no WTO rules specific to climate change. However, the WTO is relevant because climate change measures and policies intersect with international trade in a number of different ways.
The WTO offers a powerful supporting framework for sustainable development and green economy. It provides an enabling environment through its objectives, institutions and monitoring of potential trade protectionism, enforcement mechanism, toolbox of rules, and growing case law in the environment area.