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UNEP highlights five key environmental considerations in the trade-environment debate

Seattle/Nairobi, 3 December 1999 - At the 3rd World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today, stressed the importance of considering five key environmental issues in the trade-environment debate.

Calling for a successful outcome in Seattle that ensures trade and environment policies are mutually supportive, UNEP Executive Director, Klaus Topfer, said, "The new Millennium Round must succeed with regard to promoting sustainable development. It must succeed in helping the poorest of the poor in the world. And, it must succeed for the sake of the environment."

Building on its on-going work in the environment and trade area, UNEP stressed the importance of addressing:


  1. The urgent need for capacity building, particularly in developing countries, to enable full integration of trade and environment in their national policy, and the effective participation of these countries in international trade and environment negotiations.


  2. Early assessment of the environmental, social and economic impacts of trade liberalization policies and agreements at the national, regional and international levels, and their integration into policy-making at all levels.


  3. Removal of environmental perverse subsidies to create a win-win situation for trade and environment.


  4. Examination of the origins, evolution and implementation of international environmental principles in multilateral environment agreements (MEAs) in line with the Rio Declaration, in particular principles 6, 7 and, 15 which specifically highlights the importance of precautionary action. Also, to clarify the relationship between trade measures in MEAs and WTO rules, and strengthen the monitoring, enforcement, compliance and dispute settlement mechanisms of MEAs.


  5. Through the use of appropriate tools, to enhance the dissemination of knowledge and information on products and services as a legitimate right for consumers, while avoiding the misuse of such tools for protectionist purposes.

Note to Editors:
In Seattle this week, governments are expected to launch the next round of global trade talks, and also to decide on the scope and extent to which environmental considerations will be incorporated in these negotiations. For many delegates and observers, the environmental implication of further trade liberalization is the most critical issue to be addressed in the current environment and development debate.

The environment and trade issue was a central theme of the WTO conference speech given by United States President Clinton, who UNEP Executive Director, Klaus Toepfer, met with here on Wednesday. During the week, Toepfer also met with environment ministers and senior environment officials participating in WTO meeting. He also addressed a number of relevant NGO side-events, including trade and environment workshops organized by Greenpeace and the World Resources Institute.

On Monday, at a joint press conference on the eve of the WTO conference, Toepfer and WTO Director-General, Michael Moore, announced a recently agreed framework of co-operation between UNEP and WTO. The framework, which builds on the on-going work between the two organizations, emphasizes the importance of continued collaboration between the secretariats of UNEP and WTO.

As a further contribution to its input to the environment and trade discussion, UNEP released six new reports on Wednesday that demonstrate how countries can take action to address trade-related environmental degradation. For more information contact:
Hussein Abaza,
UNEP - Economics and Trade Unit, Division of Technology, Industry and Economics,
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland,
Tel: (+41-22) 917-8179, Fax: (+41-22) 917-8076,
Robert Bisset,
UNEP press officer in Seattle,
c/o Crown Plaza Hotel,
tel: 1-206-464-1980, fax: 340-1617, mobile: 206-909-3518,

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;

UNEP News Release 1999/136

Sunday 05 Dec 1999
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