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International Trade and the Environment

The relationship between trade and environment has been a topic of discussion for many years. The focus has been the implications of environmental policies on international trade. The GATT Secretariat first expressed this concern in 1971, through the document called Industrial Pollution Control and International Trade. At that time, there was fear for environmental policies to become a form of protectionism. In 1992, the importance of trade for sustainable development emerged. Environment and multilateral trade systems were linked in 1994 through the Marrakesh Agreement, placing environment within the objectives of the WTO (established 1995).

The objective of a trading system is the liberalisation of markets through regional (FTAA) or global (WTO) agreements. It is also argued that trade has a potential to be a source for financing development through trade-related income generation and foreign direct investment. This would translate into economic growth and a source of employment, contributing to poverty reduction and thus contribute to environmental conservation. Therefore, trade can be a promising economic activity for sustainable development. However, its rules can have a severe impact on environmental policies and undermine labour standards. We continue to lobby government to make trade and environment mutually supportive.

Our participation in government discussions regarding trade are to ensure that Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA) are considered within the Country’s international trade policies; including the creation of tools for measuring the environmental impacts of trade liberalisation.

People, Trade and the Environment Digest

Tools and Information for Activists

Trade and Environment Links

Find out about "deep integration"
(ideas for greater economic integration with the U.S.) and its problems for the environment

Sierra Club of Canada is a partner in the
Canadian Alliance on Trade and the Environment

The World Trade Organization at Cancun

Letter from Cancun
Sarah Dover reported from Cancun during the WTO meetings

Sierra Club of Canada Backgrounder

The World Trade Organization at Cancun: Agriculture and the Environment

SCC RIO Report
Read the trade section

Join the Sierra Club and SIGN ON
Democracy Challenge issued to the WTO

Utne Tradewatch – direct from Cancun
Utne TradeWatch

The Canadian government position
Federal government priorities and positions

Council of Canadians
"Making the links from Cancun"

Sierra Club U.S. Backgrounder
(pdf file, 250K)

Make Trade Safe, Clean & Fair

NGO Statement
Multilateral Environmental Agreements and the World Trade Organization


Background on the World Trade Organization

What is the FTAA?

Read the trade section of SCC's RIO Report

5 Environmental Reasons to Oppose the FTAA, From Swordfish to Services (pdf download, 185K)

Submission to the federal government concerning NAFTA arbitration awards - S.D. Myers v. Government of Canada, January 2001

An Environment Guide to the World Trade Organization

Sierra Club of Canada's brief on trade and the environment (brief to the Canadian government as part of its Trade and Environment Consultations).

"Forgotten Promises and Forgotten Lessons: The Organization of American States, the FTAA and Environmental Protection"

NAFTA Effects on Water- The Great Lakes Basin and Free Trade - The Great Lakes contain nearly 20 percent of the world's accessible fresh water. Significant environmental impacts can be expected if bulk water exports from the Great Lakes are allowed under NAFTA.


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