Empowering stakeholders through our renowned publications
Knowledge is power. Global policymakers and influencers have trusted ICTSD Bridges publications as the world’s leading source of trade and sustainable development-focused analysis and news since 1996. In a world where access to reliable, accurate, and timely information and analysis is increasingly hidden behind expensive internet paywalls, ICTSD’s suite of news and analysis publications remain an indispensable tool for policymakers and influencers.
The suite of eight multi-regional and multi-lingual Bridges periodicals aim to provide policymakers and influencers, particularly those left on the margins of negotiations, with the knowledge and context they require to formulate policy on a more level playing field. While providing for a wide range of views, the periodicals remain non-partisan and employ a rigorous editorial approach that has ensured a strong readership in the field and at the highest levels of policymaking.
Delivering intellectual leadership on the future of the multilateral trade system
After more than ten years of intense Doha Round talks with only a limited set of deliverables and no clear way forward, the negotiating function of the multilateral trading system is at a crossroads. ICTSD’s E15Initiative aims to provide an innovative approach to identifying solutions and opportunities for the WTO to more effectively cope with modern global challenges, such as climate change, the digitisation of the economy, the proliferation of RTAs.
This comprehensive, multi-dialogue process – jointly implemented by ICTSD and the World Economic Forum – brings together the world’s foremost experts to address the calls for new and pragmatic approaches to the functioning of the system and international negotiations.
The initiative identifies potential solutions, innovations and opportunities for governance reform focusing on a set of key issues. Through the project, ICTSD brings together experts, policy-makers, business sector players and WTO negotiators through a dynamic of policy dialogues and state-of-the-art analysis in an innovative problem-solving process.
Strengthening developing countries’ legal capacity
ICTSD believes that all WTO Members must have equal opportunity to participate in the rule making and rule shaping of the multilateral trading system. Only when countries can effectively navigate this increasingly complex and legalised system, will they be able to realise their sustainable development potential.
The ability to proactively and constructively manage trade relations – and to thereby avoid conflicts and reap the benefits of global trade – is an important element of the trading system. However, sufficient capacity and know-how is essential for monitoring rights and obligations and initiating dialogue with trading partners on existing trade barriers.
Against the background of persisting capacity constraints, it is ICTSD’s goal to strengthen countries’ legal capacity and thereby empower them to proactively manage their trading relations in the interest of sustainable development.
Promoting food security, equity, and environmental sustainability in agricultural trade
Farm trade policies – such as subsidy programmes, or barriers to imports and exports – can help or hinder people’s efforts to escape from hunger in the world’s poorest countries, especially in rural areas. They can also determine how successful governments are in protecting the natural environment and tackling climate change.
Building on its reputation for facilitating dialogue and generating timely and relevant research on policy challenges, ICTSD’s work on agriculture and seeks to promote food security, equity and environmental sustainability in agricultural trade.
Fostering trade in sustainable energy goods and services
ICTSD’s Global Platform on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainable Energy mobilises technical and political experts to address the nexus between trade, climate change and energy. The initiative’s goal is to foster strong multilateral regimes that promote the transition to a low-carbon economy and a sustainable energy future.
Trade can play an essential role in climate change mitigation and adaptation and at the same time, efforts to address climate change can impact on trade. Against this background it is crucial for the trade and climate change communities to connect and to deepen their understanding of these interlinkages, so that policies are coherent and ultimately supportive of sustainable development.
Contributing to sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction in LDCs and Africa
Africa and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) as a group are enjoying a period of sustained economic growth, macroeconomic stability, increased trade and investment and remarkable progress toward some of the Millennium Development Goals. Nevertheless, most of the LDCs have shown little progress in tackling their structural vulnerabilities and have not been able to diversity their economies, create jobs, and reduce poverty on a significant scale – indicating that their economic growth may not lead to sustainable development.
Structural transformation – a process that involves strengthening a country’s economic base through industrial diversification – entails job creation in new and diverse sectors, providing opportunities for social and economic inclusiveness, poverty reduction and efficient use of natural resources. Hence, structural transformation is a key step in the direction of sustainable development. International trade can act as a catalyst in transforming the structure of a country’s economy if the right policy frameworks are in place to take advantage of existing and emerging opportunities. The rise of global value chains also has the potential to facilitate this process, with LDCs finding a role to play in the global production networks.
ICTSD works with LDCs and African economies to help them take better advantage of international and regional trade opportunities for sustainable development and poverty reduction.
Fostering innovation, creativity and technology
Innovation is increasingly a catalyst of economic growth and plays an essential role in responding to global challenges, such as public health, climate change, and food security. At the same time, technology is a driving force behind the emerging knowledge economy.
Traditional legal frameworks regulating knowledge – such as intellectual property rights (IPRs) – are increasingly torn between those seeking to strengthen or weaken them in the face of multiple challenges induced by technological change.
In that context, ICTSD is working to foster frameworks for innovation, creativity and technology that adequately serve the needs of developing countries and that address sustainable development challenges. ICTSD also aims to ensure intellectual property rights regimes are able to balance private rights and public interest to benefit development goals.
Supporting the sustainable management of natural resources
Against a trend of increasing uncertainty in the price and supply of key natural resources, countries are seeking ways to move their economies onto greener and more sustainable sectors, while vigorously pursuing development, equity, and poverty reduction goals. Meanwhile, the consumptive pressures of the developed world and a rapidly growing middle class in many developing countries require solutions to ensure sustainability.
Looking ahead to future trade patterns, it is clear that countries will increasingly need to respond to scarcity and volatility across a variety of key resources, from energy to land and water to food and minerals. The management of our global natural resource base is, and will continue to be, influenced by international agreements, government regulation, and global markets and value-chains shaped by private sector actors.
It is in this new context that ICTSD is taking on a leadership role by helping to forge new partnerships and policies across global markets and value-chains that support the sustainable management of natural resources, including a radical shift towards resource efficiency.