Background paper WTO

Submitted By aliceggy
Words: 5035
Pages: 21

A. Strategies for sustainable trade

Since the emergence of societies, trade has been essential in the development of a bigger civilisation and its progress along time. It has never been possible for any country to obtain all necessary resources by itself. In order for a country to be fully developed, trade will always be necessary. But trading methods are the real issue on an organised society. As these organised civilisations evolved into Nations and Nation States, trade became a more complex exchange of goods. For example, new types of trade became visible, such as fair trade. Fair trade is “the purchase of products directly from producers and retailed to consumers with explicit labelling”. These products are purchased at a price above market price, in order to offset the perceived exploitation of product-market power by large multinationals, and to make the production environmentally sustainable. At the same time, international trade has become one of the most important instruments for economic development, because in many developing countries trade has turned into the main instrument of their economic policies. Even though these and many other types of trade have helped countries’ economies to grow, they have harmed the environment in many ways causing drastic changes in it. Nowadays sixty per cent of the world’s ecosystem services are being degraded or used unsustainably. Sustainable trade refers exactly to the exchange between countries and nations that involves goods and services, culture, information, and the natural environment. However, different nations have different cultures and comparative advantages in goods, as well as in attitudes toward the environment. Each community seeks to maintain its own set of values and preserve its identity. All these leads to many issues, but one of the most important is that when it comes to trade and the environment, there is a significant uncertainty about the likelihood and severity of environmental impacts. An example of this is the expansion of trade, which has lead to several consequences as natural resource degradation and increased pollution. At the same time, the extension of production and consumption causes the increase of carbon dioxide emissions, which are one of the main reasons of climate change. If we analyse this climate impact in our world, we can see that both importers and exporters are affected by these changes. For example, the export of agricultural products may be environmentally beneficial or harmful; this is due to the use of damaging fertilisers and pesticides, as well as the increase of water demand for irrigation. Our world is also heavily damaged by the trade of toxic wastes. To deal with these issues, scientists have tried to invent methods to reduce the damage caused to the environment, but they cannot really deal with high stakes and high uncertainty. To conquer these problems, a new approach of science should be taken. This new approach is called “post-normal” or “second order” science, which is basically the application to the basic scientific method to a new area. However, this method does not imply anything about the precision of the results acquired, but it does give us several hypotheses we can work with. This new approach of science offers new ways to protect the environment that acknowledge the existence of uncertainty and provides safeguards against potentially harmful effects, while at the same time stressing low impact technologies and attempting to broaden understanding. Only when this step is taken will international trade have the potential to contribute to true global welfare. Science alone cannot win the fight against environmental damages, but there are other institutions such as the major UNEP`s Division, the Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE). It works with international and non-governmental organisations, national and local governments, business and industry to promote cleaner and