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Trade has important role in protecting the planet

Azevêdo on World Environment Day: ‘Trade has important role in protecting the planet’

On the occasion of World Environment Day on 5 June, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo highlighted the important role of trade in fostering a sustainable world economy. An open and transparent trading system aligned with sound environmental policies acts as a catalyst for enhancing the protection and well-being of the planet, DG Azevêdo said.

"By providing a unique forum to discuss trade and environment issues, the WTO helps members explore the best solutions for promoting sustainable development. Members, recognizing their shared goal of enhancing the welfare of people, can build on the openness and transparency of the global trading system to act as a catalyst for dismantling subsidies and other distortions with perverse environmental consequences, lowering the cost of sustainability, and hastening the transition into greener economies," DG Azevêdo said.

"The world has always looked to trade as a powerful tool to improve the well-being of humankind. Protecting the environment is an important facet of that mission and, as such, the trade agenda must continue to be supportive of global environmental goals while also delivering on growth and development," he said.

The WTO's founding document, the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO, recognizes the objective of sustainable development and the legitimacy of environmental protection as national and international goals. In line with this, WTO members have been negotiating an agreement to prohibit harmful fisheries subsidies, examining links between natural disasters and trade, and exploring opportunities for facilitating trade in environmental goods and services.

International trade policy has long been a vital part of the global environmental effort with linkages discussed in the Stockholm Conference of 1972 and more recently highlighted in the accomplishment of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

In an effort to strengthen the partnership between the trade and environment communities, UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim and DG Azevêdo launched on 25 January a new dialogue to identify ways of ensuring that trade and environment policies are mutually supportive. The first initiative under this joint effort will be a high-level forum on Trade and Environment to be held in October.

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