UNCTAD Announces Forum on Trade and the Green Economy

UNCTAD26 September 2012: The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has announced the creation of a new Forum on Trade and the Green Economy. The Forum aims to resolve conflicts related to government environmental measures and trade rules before they progress to more formal mechanisms. The Forum is expected to meet twice per year, beginning with a first session in December 2012 convened under the auspices of UNCTAD.

The Forum will use the format of a panel of experts, where delegates, trade officials and other experts will discuss relevant issues and suggest solutions to avoid referring conflicts and disputes to formal dispute-settlement mechanisms, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). According to UNCTAD, WTO welcomes the idea of the Forum and will participate at the expert level.

Lucas Assuncao, UNCTAD, described how the expansion of the green economy has included government measures that mandate or require companies to procure inputs from domestic rather than imported sources to protect the environment. Such domestic requirements may be linked to policies such as feed-in tariffs (FITs) or subsidies designed to give domestic green businesses “a head start.” Assuncao said the Forum hopes to evaluate “the economic and environmental effectiveness of these measures.” Guillermo Valles, UNCTAD, said the Forum's intent is to provide institutional space "not to legislate, but to reduce frictions and perhaps to reduce trade disputes.” [UNCTAD Press Release]