Governance and Funding

Based in Geneva, TESS leverages the neutral position and convening power of its founding partners, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Graduate Institute.


“The world faces triple environmental crises of climate, pollution and biodiversity loss. At UNEP, we are delighted to partner with the Graduate Institute to foster multilateral cooperation on the trade and trade policies needed to promote green economies and sustainable development and to phase out unsustainable trade, production and consumption. International agendas on sustainable trade must respond to developing country priorities and advance progress on the SDGs, and will require more interaction between trade and environment policy communities. Based in International Geneva but with a global outlook and advisory network, TESS is designed to respond to these priorities.”

Steven Stone, Chief, Resources and Markets Branch, Economy Division, UNEP


“We are proud to announce this new partnership with UNEP. Our involvement with TESS reflects the Graduate Institute’s long-standing engagement with International Geneva, and our commitment to sustainability as core to the Graduate Institute’s vision and mission. TESS is a timely response to the growing interest in revived multilateral cooperation on the critical intersections of trade, environment and the SDGs and the need for more inclusive global governance.”

Marie-Laure Salles, Director, Graduate Institute


“Notre contribution en faveur du TESS s’inscrit dans l’engagement de la France à faciliter une relance verte post-covid-19 : nous sommes ravis de soutenir le TESS qui a vocation à encourager le dialogue multilatéral sur le commerce et l’environnement, et invitons tous les Membres et parties prenantes intéressés à se joindre à cette discussion”

Francois Rivasseau, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations in Geneva

TESS is subject to the Graduate Institute’s governance and oversight mechanisms, as well as its financial administration, human resources and oversight systems.

A TESS Steering Committee meets bi-annually to review TESS activities, agree on shared priorities and devise funding strategies. The Steering Committee is comprised of one representative each from the Graduate Institute and UNEP, and four strategic actors actively involved in international trade, environment and sustainable development communities.

To harness the input of a diverse range of stakeholders, TESS is supported by a regionally diverse International Advisory Network composed of experts acting in their voluntary personal capacity. The Network combines experts from leading international organisations, stakeholder organizations (private sector and civil society), think tanks, academic & research centres as well as donor organisations, with a focus on the engagement of developing country actors.

TESS is financed through a combination of grants from government and philanthropic donors as well as contractual arrangements to support the implementation of joint projects. In 2021, our founding donors were the French Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Quadrature Climate Foundation, the European Climate Foundation, and UNEP.

In its incubation phase, TESS emerged from projects supported by the Swiss Ministry of Economy (SECO), WWF-UK, Chatham House and UNEP, as well as from the input of a diversity of colleagues from international organisations, government delegations, stakeholder organisations from the business and civil society sectors, and the research community.

Within the Graduate Institute, TESS is  supported by an informal Scientific Committee drawing together colleagues from the Global Governance Centre, the Centre for Trade and Economic Integration, the Centre for International Environmental Studies, and the Geneva Trade Platform.

At the Graduate Institute, TESS is housed at the Geneva Trade Platform, which works to:

  • Improve the inclusivity and accessibility of the trade policy discussion in Geneva, and around the world
  • Strengthen collaboration between the trade policy community and the policy communities trade impacts
  • Support policymakers, negotiators and innovative projects by delivering the forums, information, incubation space and technical assistance they demand
  • Enhance Geneva’s potential as the global hub of trade governance

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