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 the protection and preservation of the environment through its objective of ensuring sustainable development and avoiding protectionism, through its rules and enforcement mechanism, and through work in different WTO bodies.
- Regular Trade and Environment Committee: 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.
- Negotiations: In the Doha Round, WTO members received a mandate to negotiate 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 services. These talks take place in “Special Sessions” of the Trade and Environment Committee.
- Environmental Goods Agreement : Separately, eighteen participants representing 46 WTO members are negotiating an Environmental Goods Agreement