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New handbook explores how trade can drive the transition to a Green Economy

A high-level panel of experts met in Geneva on 28 April to discuss the interlinkages among trade, the environment and inclusive Green Economies to mark the launch of the Trade and Green Economy Handbook.

The panel - organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), a leading international think tank - featured Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, Arancha González, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), and Scott Vaughan, President and CEO of IISD.

The Handbook, a joint publication by UNEP and IISD, covers a wealth of new information, including the emergence of the Green Economy concept, the latest World Trade Organisation jurisprudence and the increasingly important linkages between trade and inclusive Green Economy policies and practices. These developments are considered amid the changing dynamics of international trade with the increased importance of global value chains and the rise of regional trade agreements. The Green Economy presents a model for reversing these trends by altering economic structures and incentives in a way that supports growth, social equity and welfare through the preservation and sustainable use of natural resources and vigilant control of pollution.

The panel discussed ways to build synergies among the international trade, environment and investment regimes. 2015 is marked by a number of events and international agreements that will substantially shape the relationship between these regimes. In 2013, the financial volume of global trade amounted to US$ 23.4 trillion, roughly a third of global GDP, yet at the same time the world’s environmental indicators revealed that the pressure exerted by trade on the environment is taking its toll.

As the Handbook illustrates, if these trends are to be reversed, one of the key catalysts of these changes must be the harnessing of trade as a positive economic, social and environmental change, rather than as a driver of environmental degradation.

The Handbook is aimed at policy makers interested in the transition to a Green Economy who require a better understanding of the relevant trade rules as well as trade negotiators who want to learn about the environmental implications of their decisions. Its objective is to increase coordination and reduce tension between the international trade and environment agendas in order to open new pathways to achieve sustainable development.

The Handbook has been released in English, French, Spanish and Chinese and is now available online at

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