Faced with multiple environmental crises and pressing development challenges, governments are exploring options to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient global economy. In this process, trade and trade policies have a critical role to play to foster the development, diffusion, affordability, and uptake of goods, services, and technologies critical to address the climate crisis, global pollution, and biodiversity loss. There is also a growing recognition of the role that trade and trade policies can play in providing market opportunities for products that are produced sustainability.
In the world of trade policymaking and diplomacy, this has prompted calls for governments to do more to facilitate and promote trade in environmental goods, services, and technologies. More broadly, it is spurring recognition that in order to achieve the scale and speed of transformation required to meet shared sustainability goals, there is a need to go beyond promoting trade in niche products and to foster a transformation of all commercial relations towards shared goals and in support of action at the national level.
An important backdrop for this discussion are longstanding efforts from developing countries to secure specific opportunities for their exports, diversify their economies, and derive greater benefits from their participation in global trade for their sustainable development priorities. In a rapidly changing market and regulatory landscape, there are fears among many developing countries and businesses that the shift towards a greener global economy will leave them behind, further marginalize their economies, and reinforce the technology and competitiveness gap between developed and developing countries. In particular, there are concerns about growing restrictions on trade in the pursuit of environmental priorities and their limited access to technologies, finance, or investment needed to propel a structural transformation addressing both urgent development and environmental priorities.