United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Trade and Environment Review

1810-9608 (online)
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The objective of the Trade and Environment Review is to enhance understanding of and promote dialogue on the development dimension of key trade and environment issues. Each edition of the Trade and Environment Review comprises one or more lead articles on selected topics, commentaries on those articles by a range of experts, and an overview of UNCTAD technical cooperation activities in the area of trade, environment and development.
Trade and Environment Review 2016

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Trade and Environment Review 2016

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20 Dec 2016
9789210600644 (PDF)

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The Trade and Environment Review 2016 addresses the matter of harmful incentives, primarily in terms of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and fisheries subsidies, as an important part of the toolkit to restore fish populations, foster sustainable fisheries and deliver substantial economic and social gains. The Review proposes developing an overarching traceability system of traded fish from vessel to final consumer, as key to arresting and eliminating IUU fishing, but notes the requirement for major upgrading of institutional and technical implementation capacities, which may be difficult for some countries with fewer financial resources. On subsidies, there should be full transparency and disclosure of all fisheries subsidies, which should be classified in order to identify and distinguish those that are harmful or not. Efforts to discipline capacity-enhancing subsidies should be exerted at the national, regional and global levels of governance and, given previous intransience on this issue, a group of countries in partnership with organizations such as the WTO, UNCTAD and the FAO could stimulate collective actions with bottom-up voluntary commitments to subsidy reform.

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  • Acronyms
  • Foreword
  • Executive Summary

    For the next 15 years, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the achievement of the related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will command international attention. Achieving the 17 global goals and 169 related targets requires, inter alia, careful assessment and practical suggestions on implementing this transformative agenda on a global scale on an urgent basis. In this direction, UNCTAD’s 2016 Trade and Environment Review brings together a collection of independent articles by leading experts providing succinct diagnosis and novel suggestions on the implementation of SDG 14 which seeks to “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”.

  • International and regional frameworks for sustainable fisheries

    In September 2015, the international community agreed on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including the adoption of 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These goals, established for the next 15 years, are rightly ambitious with full support of the Commonwealth. However, this should not obscure the scale of the challenges ahead. Urgent actions are required to advance this development agenda. Sustainable Development Goal 14 urges the international community to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources”. This points to a pressing need for the international community to address the issue of the conservation and the rebuilding of global fish stocks that have been so quickly depleted as a result of the industrialisation of the fisheries sector to date. This article reflects on the capacity of bilateral, regional and multilateral trade policy to manage sustainable fisheries effectively. Upon reflection what becomes apparent is the requirement for better synergies and coherence amongst these levels of trade policy making in order to promote global sustainable fisheries management more effectively.

  • Trade in sustainable fisheries and aquaculture

    The conservation of oceans and seas, including fish and marine species, gained significant impetus with the adoption of new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations in September 2015. Goal 14 on the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and seas and marine resources provides strong guidance for action by the international community. Interaction between instruments seeking the conservation of wild fish stocks and marine species on the one hand, and the trade regime on the other, will shape the way in which we harvest, process and trade fish. Fish stocks conservation is an urgent concern that cannot continue unaddressed. This note provides a forecast on how the fish and world trade regimes will look like five years after the implementation of SDGs in 2035. Three main trends are likely to affect the supply and demand of fish and fish products. In the trade realm, these trends point to a selective and incremental incorporation of marine live and fish conservation measures in the multilateral trading system, and regional trade agreements in particular. By 2035, wild marine catch will grow only slightly while aquaculture products will fill the gaps in order to address increasing demand. Moreover, tariffs on fish and fish products will be lower, non-tariff measures will continue to proliferate while some unfair practices such as subsidies and IUU fishing activities will be addressed at the multilateral and regional levels

  • Harmful incentives: The case of fisheries subsidies

    Addressing government incentives that drive unsustainable fisheries practices is not just an environmental imperative. Government subsidies in the fisheries sector can also have severe negative social and economic impacts for the most vulnerable countries and communities. The adoption of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015 brings hope of addressing this unfair situation, specifically thanks to Target 14.6, whereby the international community has committed to prohibit fisheries subsidies that contribute to overfishing and to IUU fishing. Considerable resources would be saved if harmful fisheries subsidies were prohibited and spent to secure the implementation of other SDG 14 targets for the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean, for example through a Blue Fund that would be established to that effect. Inaction on fish subsidies at the latest Ministerial Conference of the WTO held in December 2015 – three months after the adoption of the SDGs – is not an encouraging sign, but the upcoming High-Level United Nations Conference on Oceans and Seas in June 2017 may provide a new opportunity.

  • Key messages on sustainable trade in fish
  • Fisheries subsidies groups
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