List of Environmental Goods: An Overview

Research
Date period
20 December 2013

Summary

Formal trade negotiations on liberalising environmental goods and services were launched at the Doha Ministerial Conference in 2001. Subsequently many WTO Members submitted lists of what they deemed were environmental goods. The unresolved issue of the definition of an environmental good and differing interpretations of scope has since cast its  shadow on the talks. This paper briefly examines  the early history behind the development of formal lists of environmental goods including the OECD’s illustrative list  and APEC’s Early Voluntary Sector Liberalisation (EVSL) lists and the purposes for which they were developed.

It also examines the various lists subsequently submitted in the context of WTO negotiations, external trade liberalisation initiatives notably in APEC, as well as others, developed  primarily for research purposes such as those by the World Bank and ICTSD. It points out some of the key characteristics of various EG lists that have been developed and identifies the common sectors that figure in two or more WTO submissions  and the APEC lists. The paper finally concludes with some implications for the evolution of future negotiations on environmental goods. Further, it proposes options, bearing in the mind overall environmental and developmental goals of the Doha negotiations that might facilitate common ground on issues of definition and scope of environmental goods among WTO members.