|Defining Environmental Goods and Services and their Trade and Sustainable Development Implications|
|Tuesday, July 21, 2009|
At the beginning of the 21st century, the international community reaffirmed its commitment to sustainable development. Several international meetings were convened to redefine the goals, the path and the means to boost economic growth, improve social development and ensure the sustainable use of natural resources and ecosystems. Four commitments from the multilateral agenda stand out due to their potential to enable the implementation of sustainable development: the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, the Monterrey Consensus, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha Ministerial Declaration, and the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).
Defining Environmental Goods and Services and their Trade and Sustainable Development Implications:
The concept of environmental goods and services (EGS) was addressed directly and indirectly in the above commitments. On the sustainable development front, the Millennium Declaration recommended halving by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.1 The Monterrey Consensus called for investment in basic economic and social infrastructure, development of public private partnerships and measures to foster corporate social responsibility, including the prevention of negative environmental impacts and the sustainable use of natural resources. Liberalisation of trade in environmental goods and services is explicitly mentioned in the WTO negotiating mandate adopted at the Doha Ministerial Conference in 2001. Finally, the WSSD Plan of Implementation adopted the target on access to safe drinking water from the Millennium Declaration and added a similar target for basic sanitation services. Moreover, the WSSD Plan of Implementation made specific reference to the creation and expansion of markets for environmentally friendly goods and services. These commitments support the liberalisation and market expansion of the EGS sector as a strategy worth exploring to support the pursuit of sustainable development.