Greening Trade Imperative For Sustainable Development
Greening global trade is a vital step to achieving sustainable development, and developing countries are well positioned to help catalyze this transition, according to a new report released today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
“In today’s increasingly interconnected world, where trillions of dollars worth of goods and services are traded annually, greening global trade still presents challenges but also holds significant opportunities,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director. “If we are to reverse the global decline in biodiversity, mitigate the release of greenhouse gases (GHG), halt the degradation of lands and protect our oceans, then it is an imperative that international trade becomes more sustainable and contributes to protecting that ‘natural capital’ of economies in the developing world.”
In the last two decades, trade has continued to expand, creating economic growth and progress towards eradicating poverty in developing countries. At the same time, however, the increasing volume of trade has put additional stress on natural resources, led to increases in GHG emissions, and contributed to social inequalities.
World trade patterns show that developing countries, and particularly least developed countries, still depend heavily on natural resource based products and raw materials for their exports. To achieve long-term and sustainable economic development, however, there are significant and real opportunities for developing nations to diversify their economies and position themselves to benefit from the growing global demand for more green goods and services.
While still representing only a small percentage of the global market, trade in certified products and in environmental goods and services is on the rise in absolute terms. For example, the global market in low-carbon and energy efficient technologies, which include renewable energy supply products, is projected to nearly triple to US$ 2.2 trillion by 2020.
The report, Green Economy and Trade – Trends, Challenges and Opportunities, finds that developing countries with abundant renewable resources are well-positioned to capitalize on the opportunities to increase their share in international markets for sustainable goods and services.
The report analyzes six economic sectors – agriculture, fisheries, forests, manufacturing, renewable energy and tourism – where trade opportunities exist, and identifies measures, such as policy reforms and certification, that can help developing countries benefit from these markets.