Geneva, 28 April 2015 - A flagship event on trade and environment, marking the 20th anniversary of the World Trade Organization (WTO), was held at its headquarters today with the participation of Director-General Roberto Azevêdo and UN Under-Secretary-General andExecutive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner.
The event provided an opportunity to take stock of the increasing interconnections between trade and environment since the establishment of the WTO and to look ahead to what needs to be done to ensure these two areas continue to be mutually supportive in the years to come.
The event brought together leaders and renowned experts in the fields of trade and environment, including the Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, and the Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Mr. Azevêdo highlighted the increasing importance of trade-related measures aimed at environmental goals and the role of WTO institutions and activities in ensuring such measures contribute efficiently to sustainable development.
Mr. Steiner and Mr. Azevêdo emphasized the need to redouble efforts at all levels to ensure that trade and environmental policies go hand in hand.
Mr. Azevêdo said,"20 years ago the founders of the WTO saw clearly that the well-being of habitats, societies, and economies are not separate. Rather, they are inextricably linked. Their vision was of global cooperation in trade as a means to unleash growth, alleviate poverty, raise living standards and ensure full employment, while also protecting the environment."
"In the 20 years since then, the connections between trade and the environment have grown significantly. We must therefore do more to ensure that trade and environmental policies work better together, both at national and international levels. Today we have taken an important step forward to improve multilateral cooperation and dialogue on these issues," he added.Mr. Steiner added,"Trade brings the world closer together - bringing with it many opportunities but also challenges. It will not drive sustainable development by itself, but only if the international community clearly commits itself to trade-related policies and other support measures that are conducive to environmental, social and economic sustainability."
"International trade governance is evolving quickly. We need to ensure that new structures do not come at the cost of the environment, but are drivers of an inclusive Green Economy. UNEP looks forward to continuing collaboration with the WTO as it prepares for its Ministerial Conference in Nairobi and for the decades to come," he added.