GE-TOP Report


Background Information

Green Economy and Trade: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities

This timely report sets out the main trends, drivers and requirements for trade in a green economy, and identifies specific challenges and opportunities for developing countries. It provides analysis of green trade opportunities in six sectors: Agriculture, Fisheries, Forests, Manufacturing, Renewable Energy and Tourism.

This report identifies several opportunities to create or improve trade flows in terms of both revenue and sustainability, including:

- increased economic competitiveness by increasing resource efficiency in production processes,
- innovation through design of environmentally friendly and sustainable products,
- improved access to and benefits from sustainable global value chains,
- exports of certified products and also non-certified sustainably produced products,
- trade in sustainably-produced products destined to innovative markets,
- trade in environmental goods and services.

The report has been prepared under the auspices of UNEP’s Green Economy and Trade Opportunities Project (GE-TOP). The chapters have been discussed by government officials, private sector representatives and other stakeholders during four international workshops. The report has subsequently been reviewed by more than 200 experts, including the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and the International Trade Centre (ITC).

Rio+20 and GE-TOP

At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) held in June 2012, governments agreed to the outcome document The Future We Want, which makes a commitment to help countries implement clear and practical measures for transitioning to green economies. This document affirms international trade as an engine for development and sustained economic growth.

The report is a response to UNEP’s delivering on the outcomes of Rio+20 and reflects UNEP’s aim to engage developing countries in the design, harmonisation and implementation of international standards and certification schemes, while ensuring that such schemes are neither used as trade barriers nor as green protectionist measures with trade partners and multilateral bodies.

Trends and Challenges for Developing Countries

With changing consumption patterns and growing populations across developing countries, the report sets the stage for a new generation of trade opportunities that can help support and advance a green economy, while opening new markets. Furthermore, developing national capacity to deal with the challenges of the transition to a green economy is one of the key themes of the report. UNEP envisions that future work under GE-TOP will take the analysis to a national level and assist countries in identifying specific opportunities in accordance with their priorities and circumstances.

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