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Trade and Environment

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    Global concern about environmental issues is driving a growing market for sustainably sourced natural resource based products. Consumers also often demand evidence of production supporting “fair” and “ethical” practices in the value chain. Globally the market is worth around USD 50 billion.

    Development "win-win"

    The certified natural resource based product market is driving reductions in poverty as production is often labour intensive and premium prices reach smallholder producers who make up the bulk of the rural poor. The trade is also generating environmental benefits like carbon sequestration in soils and timber, forest preservation, decreased pesticide use and net biodiversity gains.

    However, developing countries face high barriers to enter these markets in the form of standards and regulations, access to information and contact with buyers. Trade also takes place within international regulatory frameworks that govern the use of resources and the environmental impacts of production.

    The Trade and Environment Programme (TEP) strengthens the capacity of SMEs in developing countries to compete in environmental markets and to overcome barriers that might result from environment-related standards. The programme also addresses challenges relating to climate resilience and biodiversity loss. ITC provides analysis and support in different global value chains including agri-food, natural products, fibres and leather.

    Modes of support

    TEP carries out its work through three modes of support:

    • Capacity building for companies and trade support institutions on meeting market requirements;
    • Strengthening market linkages through trade fair preparation and participation;
    • Publishing market studies and guides on sustainability related markets

    Mainstreaming environment in ITC

    The TEP is also responsible for mainstreaming environment into ITC programmes and processes and coordinating the reduction of ITC’s own carbon footprint.

    • Sustainable agriculture and biodiversity

      Sustainable agriculture and biodiversity

      The demand for organic, natural and biodiversity-based products is increasing in developed countries. These markets offer export opportunities for developing countries and can play an important role in reducing poverty in rural areas and contributing to environmental protection.

    • Climate change

      Climate change

      In response to consumer concerns about climate change, retailers and governments are developing carbon labels that convey information on the carbon footprint of products. The level of carbon “embodied” in food is under scrutiny from environmentalists, farm groups, consumers and retailers.

    • Greenhouse gas mitigation strategy

      Greenhouse gas mitigation strategy

      In view of the challenges posed by climate change, the Secretary General of the UN has asked all UN agencies to “walk the talk” and to “lead by example”.

    • Publications


      ITC offers a range of information on trade and environment related issues through technical papers, publications, reports, articles and presentations.


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