Enhancing synergies between trade and environmental policies is the main focus of the 3rd Advanced Course on Trade and Environment held in Switzerland on 25th June, 2018. WTO was organizing the training and a total of 25 participants from 25 developing countries. These countries include Argentina, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Mozambique, Pakistan, Philippines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine and Samoa of the Pacific. Ms. Piula Hakai, (Senior Parks and Reserve Officer) represented the Ministry as Samoa’s candidate.
The training has divided into eight modules and each module contains two or more topics covered to adjoin it outcomes. These include, WTO perspective on trade and environment to identify win-win opportunities, legal aspects for making environmental policies and trade mutually supportive, CTE simulation, transport, sustainability and trade implications (discussions addressing carbon footprint issues, food-miles, sustainability standards and other related issues) fisheries subsidies, environmental goods, climate change and biodiversity. Furthermore, the training also provides participants with an information tool (ePing) to discuss on trade and environmental protection for Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to trade (TBT). Participants also had the opportunity to attend the Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE) simulation follow up by a CTE simulation by the participants and it was chaired by coordinators of the training. Several activities were conducted to end each modules and one main project which is designing a framework using SDGs and how trade can become a tool to achieve these goals. This was presented at the very last day of the training before closing.
Objective and Focus
The training focuses on enhancing participants’ understanding on the key aspects of the relationships between trade and the environment and to fill in the gaps with knowledge required to make aware decisions regarding relevant WTO provisions and activities related to environmental policies.
Although the relationship between trade and environment is extremely complex, however the training did provide the participants greater opportunities in terms of sharing experiences both policy and scientific perspectives that can support enabling environment for pertinent trade between countries to be acknowledged. As well-known that trade can cause harm to the environment however, trade from another point of view can help developing countries like Samoa to promote our economy. Somehow, using trade-related measures and policies together with the use of effective agreements can help control illegal and unauthorized trades on species of major concerns which includes threatened species of plants and animals or those that are genetically modified and species that are invasive. This workshop has made clear that Samoa needs to improve its current systems and measures of sharing information not only on agricultural commodities and supplies but more important biosecurity measures to ensure the environment and our native biodiversity is protected from unwanted infestations from trade. The following are some key recommendations made out of discussing from the workshop:
Way forward for Samoa and MNRE
Work on identifying how trade patterns and environment performances influence each other in order to see if trade is an enabler or a spoiler to the environment.
Promote working together with relevant partnership in designing an agreement for environment to balance the gap between trade and environment
Keep updating Samoa’s information to WTO and notify about any new or modified regulations or policies related to trade and environment so that they will know about Samos’s current status