UNEP and WTO, in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and TESS, convened this informal roundtable on the margins of the Committee on Trade and Environment. The meeting provided an opportunity for WTO delegations to explore opportunities and possible next steps for trade policy to support the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity implementation and forge a mutually supportive vision for trade, biodiversity, and sustainable development.
Biodiversity loss, unsustainable use of natural resources, and ecosystems degradation have far reaching impacts on food and livelihood security, climate resilience, economic opportunities, and more generally on the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), around 33% of global fish stocks are considered overexploited and land degradation has reduced productivity in 23% of the global terrestrial area. The mismanagement of natural resources undermines the resilience of ecosystems to climate change, and undercuts the potential for using nature-based solutions to address the climate crisis. Access to biodiversity resources and well-functioning ecosystems, including their protective and regulatory functions, is also critical to the livelihood of millions of rural and urban poor. According to the World Economic Forum, over half the world’s total GDP is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services and, as a result, exposed to risks from biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.
Trade in sustainable and fair products often provides better socio-economic stability and security for producers, generating both jobs and income while reducing pressure on biodiversity. Trade policy can also play a positive role by removing environmentally harmful incentives, including subsidies with negative impacts on biodiversity. It has been estimated, for example, that 87% of current support to agricultural producers, approximately USD 540 billion per year, include measures that are often inefficient and inequitable, and result in the degradation of the environment.
The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, adopted at the 15th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity in December 2022 includes four goals and 23 targets to be achieved by 2030. Trade-related policy action and cooperation will be essential to achieve several of these targets including those related to wildlife trade, invasive alien species, the reduction of subsidies harmful to biodiversity, the Nagoya and Cartagena Protocols, participation of business and stakeholders, and policy integration.
Meanwhile relevant discussions on the trade and biodiversity interface are taking place across a number of committees in the WTO, such as the Committee on Trade and Environment, Technical barriers to Trade or Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures. There are also opportunities to consider the intersection of trade, biodiversity, and sustainable development in the context of discussions underway as part of the Member-led initiatives such as the Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussion (TESSD) and the WTO Dialogue on Plastics Pollution.
As a contribution to this discussion, UNEP and WTO, in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and TESS, co-convened this informal roundtable on the margins of the Committee on Trade and Environment. The meeting provided an opportunity for WTO delegations to explore opportunities and possible next steps for trade policy to support the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity implementation and forge a mutually supportive vision for trade, biodiversity, and sustainable development.