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Andrew, Dale
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ADBI Working Paper Series 700
Sustainable Development Goal 15 deals with "Life on Land." Its nine targets and three means of implementation cover a vast array of environmentally sensitive issues related to land-based renewable natural resources. This paper explores the channels through which trade can address them. Approaches are categorized as mandatory or voluntary. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has over 40 years' experience in mandatory regulation of trade in nature-based species. CITES has evolved considerably since 1975 to allow sustainable trade as long as it is legal and traceable. Since the international community officially embraced the concept of sustainable use with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992, other initiatives have promoted international trade in biodiversity-based species. These initiatives nonetheless remain relatively limited. A widespread approach based on a model of voluntary sustainability standards (VSS), which are certified by third parties, has shown phenomenal growth over the past 20 years. But many stakeholders are dissatisfied partly due to less than expected economic benefits, and others are uncertain about the environmental outcomes - as opposed to changes in management practices - for which there is only limited solid evidence. Stakeholders are currently assessing how to improve the situation. Some advocate government involvement, and others wish to leverage large corporations to make transformational changes. The paper proposes a Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) for environmentally sensitive products, inspired by the World Trade Organization (WTO) TFA, that would be an "inter-governmental-plus" arrangement bringing together the range of stakeholders currently involved in sustainability standards.
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