Thursday, February 29, 2024

Progress achieved in trade and environmental sustainability talks leading to MC13

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Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) participating in the Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions (TESSD) on January 25 have made strides towards refining the group’s set of outcomes, which is slated for release at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) next month. This package of outcomes serves as a reflection of the progress made since the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) and outlines the path forward for identifying concrete actions within trade policy to support environmental sustainability. Notably, this event also marked the inclusion of Peru as the latest member to join TESSD, bringing the total number of co-sponsoring WTO members to 76. 

This meeting served as the final TESSD plenary session before the upcoming MC13, scheduled to take place from February 26 to 29 in Abu Dhabi. It followed a series of informal consultations conducted with members by the co-conveners of TESSD, Ambassador Nadia Theodore of Canada and Ambassador Ronald Saborío Soto of Costa Rica. Additionally, four informal working groups under TESSD convened between September and November 2023, playing a pivotal role in advancing discussions and shaping the outcomes. 

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Ambassador Nadia Theodore lauded the ambitious mandate set for TESSD by ministers, noting, “We have collectively risen to the challenge and can be very proud of what has taken place over this past year.” She expressed enthusiasm about presenting these accomplishments to ministers at MC13, which is just a few weeks away. 

The TESSD package intended for MC13 will encompass a statement by the co-convenors, tracing the group’s evolution since MC12 and offering insights into the road ahead towards MC14. It will also incorporate the updated TESSD work plan for 2024, guiding efforts to pinpoint concrete actions or recommendations for the next ministerial conference. The package will further feature outcome documents from the four informal TESSD working groups, including an analytical summary on trade in goods and services essential for the renewable energy sector, a compilation of member practices related to trade-related climate measures, a mapping of trade aspects within the circular economy throughout the lifecycle of products, and a compilation of member experiences and considerations regarding subsidy design. 

Ambassador Ronald Saborío emphasized that these documents comprehensively represent the progress made and the direction desired by co-sponsors and members at large. 

During the meeting, several members welcomed the TESSD package and provided additional suggestions for the draft documents, with a particular focus on ensuring alignment with multilateral discussions at the WTO, including the Committee on Trade and Environment. 

Members also reviewed the Summary Report of TESSD for 2023, along with summaries of informal working group discussions held in September and November 2023. 

The inclusion of Peru as the newest co-sponsor of TESSD was met with enthusiasm from members. This development follows the announcement in July that Barbados had joined the group, bringing the total number of co-sponsors to 76. Ambassador Theodore expressed anticipation for the valuable perspectives that both countries would bring to the discussions, particularly emphasizing the potential for more developing members to join the initiative in the future. 

Solomon Irungu
Solomon Irunguhttps://solomonirungu.com/
Solomon Irungu is a Communication Expert working with Impact Africa Consulting Ltd supporting organizations across Africa in sustainability advisory. He is also the managing editor of Africa Sustainability Matters and is deeply passionate about sustainability news. He can be contacted via mailto:solomonirungu@impactingafrica.com

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