What next for the trade, climate communities?

19 February 2016

Following last year’s busy international calendar, which saw governments sign up to a new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a universal climate deal, and an unexpected set of outcomes from the WTO’s Tenth Ministerial Conference (MC10) to cap it all, policymakers must now figure out where to go next.

But with a fragile global economy beset by turbulent financial markets, rapidly falling commodity prices, and the knock-on impacts of a slowdown in China along with strained growth in other emerging markets, 2016 has for some landed with a thud. Concerns around international security also continue to abound, responses to the refugee crisis remain woeful, and a resurgence of anti-globalisation rhetoric is manifest.

The 2030 Agenda outlines a list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets geared towards tackling the world’s many and urgent economic, social, and environmental challenges. Along with starting to implement these aims, UN members must this year agree to a set of indicators for measuring success, and define a global follow-up and review process.

Much work too lies ahead to operationalise the landmark “Paris Agreement” on climate change, including further negotiations on the modalities and rules for a range of areas that will form the new multilateral climate regime. A wide range of stakeholders, financial markets, and the private sector will need to engage in the necessary shift towards a low carbon economy. Climate-related financial risk disclosure efforts are already underway, for example, to help market participants better understand this landscape.

Officials returning to the WTO have been tasked with finding ways to advance negotiations, despite formally agreeing to disagree at MC10 in Nairobi, Kenya over the fate of the 14 year-old Doha Round trade talks, while pledging to continue to pursue its issues. Nairobi also promised that no new issues would be negotiated multilaterally unless agreed by the full membership.

Against this backdrop, deciphering a path forward for multilateral trade negotiations in the coming months will not be easy. On the regional front, securing the ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) may also prove a long-haul process, while other talks whether Trans-Atlantic, pan-African, or Asian-centred remain underway. Some trade watchers, meanwhile, hope the year will bring success for the plurilateral talks on an Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA).

The articles in this BioRes edition take stock of outcomes from last year’s major international gatherings and identify salient issues that demand further reflection among both the trade and climate communities in the context of what continues to be a shifting, uncertain, and challenging global landscape. Join the conversation by following us on Twitter and Facebook. We appreciate both your time and your feedback.

The BioRes Team

This article is published under
19 February 2016
Against the backdrop of the latest WTO ministerial meeting can the multilateral trading system still deliver for the new UN sustainable development agenda? Commentary on the outcome of the WTO’s 10...
4 March 2016
A WTO panel ruled on first instance last Thursday on the US dispute ( DS456 ) against India concerning the use of domestic content requirements in the context of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar...