Publication - Report

19 June 2024

TESS Annual Report 2023

Welcome to the TESS Annual Report 2023. In this report, we introduce our work and share some of our main achievements and impact in 2023.

We release the report as TESS proudly celebrates its three-year anniversary. TESS was officially launched in June 2021 to fill a critical gap in efforts seeking to foster inclusive international cooperation and action on trade, environment, and sustainable development. We thank our many partners and supporters whose collaboration has been vital to enable us to deliver on our mission and jointly act as agents of change. This report outlines our contribution to supporting a global trading system that addresses global environmental crises and advances the Sustainable Development Goals.

In 2023, we played a pivotal role in supporting the Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate and assumed an active leadership role in advancing work on sustainability at the World Trade Organization (WTO). An important dimension of our work to advance sustainability at the WTO was to support the identification and formulation of developing country perspectives and priorities on trade and environment at the multilateral level. Additionally, we released a report by an international legal expert group convened by TESS on principles of international law relevant for the design and implementation of trade-related climate measures and policies, which attracted considerable attention.

During the year, we supported the ongoing negotiations for an ambitious global plastics treaty by providing analysis and opportunities for dialogue on where and how trade and trade policies can facilitate these negotiations. We were contracted to provide a supporting role to the Secretariat of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution. Our achievements also include improving transparency in the trade flow of plastics across the life cycle.

In 2023, we also advanced work on a number of activities focusing on trade, sustainable agriculture, and biodiversity in the WTO and other relevant fora. This included mobilizing a group of experts in a new working group on environmentally harmful agricultural subsidies and also exploring how trade cooperation can support implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. During the year, we further mobilized a group of leading international experts to develop guidance on best practices and approaches on the trade dimensions of circular economy policies and measures, with the overarching goal of advancing sustainable development.

Many more examples of our 2023 achievements and impact are described in this report.

I believe that environmental issues will dominate all aspects of multilateral discussions for the rest of the decade at least. To date, however, the conversations have tended to evolve separate sets of people. TESS is a bold new attempt to widen the conversation and thus stimulate cross-fertilization of ideas, knowledge, and perspective.

Joost Pauwelyn, Professor of International Law, Geneva Graduate Institute. Member of the TESS Steering Committee.

TESS consistently gains access to relevant actors, creates opportunities for them to meet and debate, and ensures that ideas are shaped into the goals that engage them.

H.E. Ambassador José Valencia, Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the WTO and other international economic organizations in Geneva.