Promoting MEA Implementation

Over the past twenty years, an extraordinary number of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) have been negotiated and ratified. These agreements represent the aspirations, commitments and obligations of their signatories for protecting the global environment.

For many countries, however, insufficient capacity and limited technical, technological and financial resources has impeded the implementation of MEAs. Given this, a key focus of UNEP-ETB's capacity-building activities has been, and will continue to be, supporting a broader understanding of how economic and trade policies relate to MEA implementation.

Formal negotiations on the relationship between MEAs and the WTO were launched during the WTO Doha Ministerial Conference in 2001. UNEP-ETB has attempted to broaden this discussion to achieve the following objectives:

•  Enhance synergies and reduce potential conflicts between MEAs and the WTO;

•  Build confidence and trust between trade and environment officials to ensure the development of mutually supportive trade and environment policies; and

•  Maintain the existing balance of rights and obligations within MEAs to preserve opportunities for future environmental instruments to include trade-related measures.

Over the last several years, UNEP-ETB has organized a series of international workshops between representatives of governments, MEA Secretariats, the WTO, UNCTAD, and other inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations to enhance MEA-WTO cooperation and promote mutually supportive trade and environment policies. In addition, under the auspices of the UNEP-UNCTAD Capacity Building Task Force on Trade, Environment and Development (CBTF), a number of regional capacity-building workshops have been convened to enhance understanding of the linkages between trade and environment policies.

With the financial support of the European Union, UNEP-ETB has also launched an initiative on “Integrated Assessment of Trade-Related Policies and Biological Diversity in the Agriculture Sector,” to build national institutional and governmental capacities in developing countries to assess, design and implement policies that maximize development gains from trade in the agricultural sector while minimizing the impact on agricultural biodiversity.

In addition, UNEP-ETB, in collaboration with the CITES Secretariat, the Graduate Institute of Development Studies, and UNCTAD has recently launched an initiative entitled, “ Enhancing National Capacities to Assess Wildlife Trade Policies in Support of CITES .” The initiative, which is receiving support from the Geneva International Academic Network and the UNEP-UNCTAD CBTF, involves a number of interrelated activities, including research, training, and the establishment of four pilot country projects.

Building on its previous work with economic instruments, UNEP-ETB has also developed a study entitled, “Economic Instruments in Biodiversity-related MEAs,” which looks at the role and importance of economic instruments in the context of three MEAs: the CBD, CITES and the Ramsar Convention.

For further information on these and other related activities, please contact Benjamin Simmons at benjamin.simmons@unep.ch.