17 Juin 2021
Organisation: Forum on Trade, Environment & the SDGs
The Global Governance Centre at the Graduate Institute, the Forum on Trade, Environment and the SDGs (TESS), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP Environment and Trade Hub, the Geneva Environment Network (GEN), and the Geneva Trade Platform (GTP) hosted the online launch of a new report: “How Can Trade Policy Help Tackle Plastic Pollution?"
Launch of New Report
The report, co-authored by Carolyn Deere Birkbeck and Mahesh Sugathan, aims to facilitate an informed discussion of policy options among a diversity of relevant stakeholders, including environmental NGOs, the business sectors, government, international organizations and the research community working on the challenges of plastic pollution. The report provides:
- strategic analysis of linkages between trade and sustainability challenges in the plastics sector, including how and to what extent trade policies could form part of the solution to plastic pollution;
- a mapping of a range of trade policy options and interventions that could help reduce plastic pollution, while also noting how and where trade policies can erect barriers to or threaten national plastic pollution reduction efforts;
- a review of potential pathways for aligning trade and trade policy with plastic pollution goals, including through international environmental processes and agreements, international trade diplomacy – at the WTO and UNCTAD as well as at the regional and bilateral level – and co-operation through international economic organizations; and
- proposes policy priorities and identifies research needs.
The report will be available for download from 22 June.
The event started with a presentation of the report, followed by a roundtable exchange among invited panelists and an open discussion.
Welcome and Opening Remarks
- Damaris Carnal, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the WTO
- Carolyn Deere Birkbeck, Director, TESS
- Mahesh Sugathan, Senior Policy Adviser, TESS
- David Vivas-Eugui, Legal Office, Division on International Trade and Commodities, UNCTAD (moderator)
- Yuvan Beejadhur, Senior Advisor to the Director-General, WTO
- María Daniela García, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the WTO and other Economic International Organizations in Geneva
- Eirik Lindebjerg, Global Plastics Policy Manager, WWF
- Diana Barrowclough, Senior Economist, UNCTAD
- Leticia Carvalho, Head of Marine and Freshwater, Ecosystem Division, UNEP
- Alice Tipping, Lead, Sustainable Trade and Fisheries Subsidies, International Institute for Sustainable Development
- Helionor de Anzizu, Staff Attorney, Centre for International Environmental Law
- Kimberley Botwright, Trade and Investment Lead, World Economic Forum (WEF)
- How and where could international cooperation on trade policies best contribute to efforts to reduce plastics pollution?
- In what ways do trade policies present challenges or stand in the way of efforts to reduce plastic pollution?
- How could stronger cooperation on trade policies support, and be reflected in, the proposed global plastic treaty?
- What are the opportunities and challenges related to existing efforts to use trade policies to help reduce plastic pollution, such as the Basel Convention’s ‘plastic waste’ amendments?
- What are the trade opportunities for plastic substitutes and enhanced waste management capacities in developing countries?
- What concretely could governments do in the multilateral trading system to support and complement international efforts to tackle plastic pollution?
The video of the event is available on the GTP youtube channel and on this page.
Biographies of the Report’s Authors
Carolyn Deere Birkbeck is the Director of the Forum on Trade, Environment and the SDGs, a partnership of UNEP and the Graduate Institute, housed at the Geneva Trade Platform. She is also a Senior Researcher at the Global Governance Centre, where she leads a research project on transforming the global plastics economy, supported by the Swiss Network of International Studies.
Mahesh Sugathan is a Senior Policy Adviser at the Forum on Trade, Environment and the SDGs, and an independent trade and sustainability expert. He has been a consultant for a range of international organizations including the World Bank, the International Trade Centre (ITC), UNEP, UNCTAD, and the ACP Secretariat.
- How can international trade policy help tackle plastic pollution? DR. Carolyn Deere Birkbeck and Mahesh Sugathan | Global Governance Centre
- Research project on transforming the global plastics economy
- Forum on Trade, Environment and the SDGs (TESS)
- Global Governance Centre at Graduate Institute
- Geneva Trade Platform
- Plastics and the Environment | Geneva Environment Network
- It’s Time for Global Action to Eliminate Plastic Pollution | PEW | 10 June 2021
- Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues on Plastics and Trade | Geneva Environment Network | 4 February 2021
- Global trade in plastics: insights from the first life-cycle trade database | Diana Barrowclough, Carolyn Deere Birkbeck & Julien Christen | UNCTAD Research Paper | December 2020
- Trade and trade policy in the fight against plastic pollution: What are the challenges and opportunities? | UNCTAD | 30 September 2020
- Research Paper – The Political Economy of the Global Plastics Economy and Pollution: Production, Trade and Governance | Diana Barrowclough and Carolyn Deere Birkbeck | 9 January 2020
- Policy Brief – Strengthening international cooperation to tackle plastic pollution: options for the WTO | Carolyn Deere Birkbeck | 9 January 2020