Geneva Trade and Biodiversity Day

22 April 2010
7bis, avenue de la Paix, Geneva, Switzerland

In the spirit of the International Year of Biodiversity and with a view towards the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) held "Geneva Trade and Biodiversity Day" to explore the increasingly important intersection between trade and biodiversity policy in the promotion of sustainable development.

From WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies to sustainability certification schemes for biofuels, trade policies have strong implications for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity around the globe. Similarly, ongoing talks on an international regime on access and benefit-sharing under the Convention on Biological Diversity could impact existing multilateral trade rules. Despite the clear links between these two policy-making processes, there has been relatively little international discourse or analysis that has considered how these policy communities can enhance their cooperation.

It is against this backdrop that the Geneva Trade and Biodiversity Day sought to identify and explore key issues at the trade and biodiversity nexus and provide inputs to the perceived lack of synergies between the two policy communities. In this way, participants helped to ensure that trade and biodiversity rules are mutually supportive and work together for sustainable development.

Specifically, the event aimed to:

  • Improve understanding among the trade and biodiversity communities of how the pursuit of their respective goals and objectives might complement or hinder each other;
  • Provide information, analysis and knowledge on the impact of multilateral trade rules on biodiversity and how biodiversity policies impact on trade and poverty reduction;
  • Promote policy coherence in multi-governmental fora, including the WTO, the CBD, and WIPO, especially with regards to negotiations on an international access and benefit-sharing regime;
  • Explore the synergies between trade policy and biodiversity as it relates to sectoral themes, including agriculture, intellectual property, fisheries and climate change; and
  • Facilitate synergies between trade and biodiversity policy-making that results in tools that are complementary to the objectives of both communities.

This important gathering was held on 22 April 2010 at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) headquarters, Conference Room "A". The individual sessions brought together Geneva negotiators, international organisations, civil society and academia in an effort to foster interaction among policy makers involved in different fora, as well as with those influencing policy-making processes. See "Documentation" above for select presentations from the event.