Press releases

Wednesday 01 Dec 1999

Elements of cooperation between the WTO and UNEP

Seattle/Nairobi, 1 December 1999 - A global arrangement between the Secretariat of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations as a whole was agreed between the two Secretariats in an exchange of letters between the Director-General of the WTO and the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 29 September 1995. In accordance with the mandate given to the Secretariat of the WTO and the mandate given to the Secretariat of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), recognition is given to the importance of cooperation and collaboration between the two Secretariats with respect to their work on issues of mutual interest.

Recalling the commitment of Members to continue to improve efforts towards the objective of sustainable development, the WTO and UNEP Secretariats have elaborated the following elements of cooperation between their respective organizations. This cooperation will take place in the context of our respective mandates and within our respective resources.

Building on the global arrangement between the United Nations and the WTO, consultations have been held between the Director-General of the WTO and the Executive-Director of UNEP to further effective cooperation between the two Secretariats in areas of mutual interest and to help achieve the aims of the Rio Declaration. It is understood that cooperation between the WTO and UNEP Secretariats should encompass practical measures which could assist in the smooth and efficient functioning of both organizations in areas where interaction could be of mutual benefit. The goal is to improve the working relationship at all levels in the two Secretariats, including with respect to technical cooperation and research initiatives.

Cooperation between the WTO and UNEP Secretariats will thus include the provision and exchange of relevant non-confidential information, including access to trade-related environmental databases, and reciprocal representation at meetings of a non-confidential nature, in accordance with the decisions of the competent bodies of the respective organizations. With respect to participation and representation, it is noted that the WTO Secretariat is an observer of the Governing Council of UNEP, and UNEP is an observer of the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment.

Building on past practice, the Secretariats of the two organizations will also continue, as appropriate, their cooperation and collaboration, in particular through informal staff meetings and information sessions, including where feasible with the participation of the Secretariats of Multilateral Environmental Agreements.

Capacity-building for developing countries and countries with economies in transition is another form of cooperative activity between the two Secretariats which could usefully be continued and further strengthened, thus contributing to raising awareness on the linkages between trade, environment and sustainable development and the development of policies which integrate sustainable development considerations with trade policies. We agree to work for complementarity in technical cooperation with the aim of improving cooperation across the board and making better use of available resources.

Note to journalists:
For more information or to arrange interviews during the current WTO meeting, contact:
Robert Bisset,
UNEP press officer in Seattle, c/o Crown Plaza Hotel,
tel: 1-206-464-1980, fax: 1-206-340-1617, mobile: 206-909-3518,
email: robert.bisset@unep.org

In Nairobi, please contact:
Tore J. Brevik,
UNEP Spokesman and Director of Communications and Public Information,
P.O. Box 30552,
Nairobi, Kenya;
Tel.: (254-2) 623292; Fax: 623692;
Email: cpiinfo@unep.org

UNEP Information Note 1999/41

Wednesday 01 Dec 1999
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