A TESS initiative supporting inclusive cooperation on trade, environment, and sustainable development at the World Trade Organization.

TESS has established itself as one of the key conveners and thought leaders in the multilateral context on trade, environment, and sustainable development. We occupy a unique niche among the landscape of actors working on trade and sustainability due to our direct engagement in supporting multilateral cooperation, including at the World Trade Organization.

Environment and Sustainable Development at the World Trade Organization

Since its creation, a key objective of TESS has been to help revive and raise the profile of environment and sustainable development priorities at the World Trade Organization (WTO), thereby contributing to renewed momentum around trade and sustainability issues at the multilateral level.

We focus on supporting dialogue and action in key policymaking processes including the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment as well as in member-led initiatives such as the Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions (TESSD), the Dialogue on Plastics Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade, and the Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform Initiative.

This work includes providing policy options and convening of roundtables and public events, as well as informal and private consultations to help advance meaningful sustainability outcomes.

Sustainable development and the need to protect and preserve the environment are firmly enshrined as a key objective of the multilateral trading system in the Preamble to the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization.

Inclusive Cooperation and Developing Country Participation

A key dimension of our work is to support participation of developing countries and to focus attention on their priorities and concerns. While the debate on trade and environment has clearly gained momentum, the framing of the discussion often neglects developing country perspectives and priorities – not least because of their limited participation in setting the agenda.

To achieve this, we convene dialogues with developing countries on their priorities for trade and environmental sustainability. We also work behind the scenes to build trust with like-minded developing country delegations and encourage engagement in the Committee on Trade and Environment and related discussions in the WTO’s regular processes, as well as in deliberations under the TESSD, Dialogue on Plastics Pollution, and Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform initiative.

The WTO offers a unique multilateral forum that governments can harness to foster inclusive discussion and action on the nexus of trade, environment, and sustainable development among a broad diversity of members, including developing countries.