PDF Envisioning a Sustainable Development Agenda for Trade and Environment

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This rapid increase resulted from scientific and technological developments impacting through the economy —especially the increase in irrigated land, growth in industrial and power sectors, and intensive dam construction on all continents. This altered the water cycle of rivers and lakes , affected their water quality and had a significant impact on the global water cycle. Water efficiency is being improved on a global scale by increased demand management , improved infrastructure, improved water productivity of agriculture, minimising the water intensity embodied water of goods and services, addressing shortages in the non-industrialized world, concentrating food production in areas of high productivity, and planning for climate change, such as through flexible system design.

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A promising direction towards sustainable development is to design systems that are flexible and reversible. The American Public Health Association APHA defines a "sustainable food system" [] [] as "one that provides healthy food to meet current food needs while maintaining healthy ecosystems that can also provide food for generations to come with minimal negative impact to the environment.

A sustainable food system also encourages local production and distribution infrastructures and makes nutritious food available, accessible, and affordable to all.

Further, it is humane and just, protecting farmers and other workers, consumers, and communities. Industrial agriculture cause environmental impacts, health problem associated with obesity in the rich world and hunger in the poor world. This has generated a strong movement towards healthy, sustainable eating as a major component of overall ethical consumerism. The environmental effects of different dietary patterns depend on many factors, including the proportion of animal and plant foods consumed and the method of food production.

It recommends the Mediterranean diet which is associated with health and longevity and is low in meat , rich in fruits and vegetables , low in added sugar and limited salt, and low in saturated fatty acids; the traditional source of fat in the Mediterranean is olive oil , rich in monounsaturated fat. The healthy rice-based Japanese diet is also high in carbohydrates and low in fat.

Both diets are low in meat and saturated fats and high in legumes and other vegetables; they are associated with a low incidence of ailments and low environmental impact. At the global level the environmental impact of agribusiness is being addressed through sustainable agriculture and organic farming. At the local level there are various movements working towards local food production, more productive use of urban wastelands and domestic gardens including permaculture , urban horticulture , local food , slow food , sustainable gardening , and organic gardening.

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Role of Trade Measures in Environmental Policy

Sustainable seafood is seafood from either fished or farmed sources that can maintain or increase production in the future without jeopardizing the ecosystems from which it was acquired. The sustainable seafood movement has gained momentum as more people become aware about both overfishing and environmentally destructive fishing methods. As global population and affluence has increased, so has the use of various materials increased in volume, diversity and distance transported.

Included here are raw materials, minerals, synthetic chemicals including hazardous substances , manufactured products, food, living organisms and waste. Developed countries' citizens consume an average of 16 tons of those four key resources per capita, ranging up to 40 or more tons per person in some developed countries with resource consumption levels far beyond what is likely sustainable. Sustainable use of materials has targeted the idea of dematerialization , converting the linear path of materials extraction, use, disposal in landfill to a circular material flow that reuses materials as much as possible, much like the cycling and reuse of waste in nature.

Synthetic chemical production has escalated following the stimulus it received during the second World War.

Chemical production includes everything from herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers to domestic chemicals and hazardous substances. Although most synthetic chemicals are harmless there needs to be rigorous testing of new chemicals, in all countries, for adverse environmental and health effects. International legislation has been established to deal with the global distribution and management of dangerous goods. The classification of the toxic carcinogenic agents is handled by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Every economic activity produces material that can be classified as waste. To reduce waste, industry, business and government are now mimicking nature by turning the waste produced by industrial metabolism into resource. Dematerialization is being encouraged through the ideas of industrial ecology , ecodesign [] and ecolabelling.

WIPO and the Sustainable Development Goals

In addition to the well-established "reduce, reuse and recycle", shoppers are using their purchasing power for ethical consumerism. The European Union is expected to table by the end of an ambitious Circular Economy package which is expected to include concrete legislative proposals on waste management, ecodesign and limits on land fills. In a new report "Plastic and Climate" was published.

According to the report plastic will contribute greenhouse gases in the equivalent of million tons of carbon dioxide CO 2 to the atmosphere in In current trend, annual emissions will grow to 1. By plastic could emit 56 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, as much as 14 percent of the earth's remaining carbon budget. On one account, sustainability "concerns the specification of a set of actions to be taken by present persons that will not diminish the prospects of future persons to enjoy levels of consumption, wealth, utility, or welfare comparable to those enjoyed by present persons".

The developed world population is only increasing slightly but consumption levels are unsustainable.

Energy and Green Growth: Recasting the Options, Re-envisioning Sustainability

The challenge for sustainability is to curb and manage Western consumption while raising the standard of living of the developing world without increasing its resource use and environmental impact. This must be done by using strategies and technology that break the link between, on the one hand, economic growth and on the other, environmental damage and resource depletion. A recent UNEP report proposes a green economy defined as one that "improves human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities": it "does not favor one political perspective over another but works to minimize excessive depletion of natural capital ".

The report makes three key findings: "that greening not only generates increases in wealth, in particular a gain in ecological commons or natural capital, but also over a period of six years produces a higher rate of GDP growth"; that there is "an inextricable link between poverty eradication and better maintenance and conservation of the ecological commons, arising from the benefit flows from natural capital that are received directly by the poor"; "in the transition to a green economy, new jobs are created, which in time exceed the losses in "brown economy" jobs.

However, there is a period of job losses in transition, which requires investment in re-skilling and re-educating the workforce".

Envisioning futures for environmental and sustainability education

Several key areas have been targeted for economic analysis and reform: the environmental effects of unconstrained economic growth; the consequences of nature being treated as an economic externality ; and the possibility of an economics that takes greater account of the social and environmental consequences of market behavior. Historically there has been a close correlation between economic growth and environmental degradation : as communities grow, so the environment declines. This trend is clearly demonstrated on graphs of human population numbers, economic growth, and environmental indicators.

There is concern that, unless resource use is checked, modern global civilization will follow the path of ancient civilizations that collapsed through overexploitation of their resource base. In economic and environmental fields, the term decoupling is becoming increasingly used in the context of economic production and environmental quality.

When used in this way, it refers to the ability of an economy to grow without incurring corresponding increases in environmental pressure. Ecological economics includes the study of societal metabolism, the throughput of resources that enter and exit the economic system in relation to environmental quality.


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Exactly how, if, or to what extent this can be achieved is a subject of much debate. In the International Resource Panel , hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP , warned that by the human race could be devouring billion tons of minerals, ores, fossil fuels and biomass per year—three times its current rate of consumption—unless nations can make serious attempts at decoupling.

By comparison, the average person in India today consumes four tons per year. Sustainability studies analyse ways to reduce resource intensity the amount of resource e.

There are conflicting views whether improvements in technological efficiency and innovation will enable a complete decoupling of economic growth from environmental degradation. On the one hand, it has been claimed repeatedly by efficiency experts that resource use intensity i. For example, there are certain minimum unavoidable material requirements for growing food, and there are limits to making automobiles, houses, furniture, and other products lighter and thinner without the risk of losing their necessary functions.

Consequently, long-term sustainability requires the transition to a steady state economy in which total GDP remains more or less constant, as has been advocated for decades by Herman Daly and others in the ecological economics community. A different proposed solution to partially decouple economic growth from environmental degradation is the restore approach. Participants in such efforts are encouraged to voluntarily donate towards nature conservation a small fraction of the financial savings they experience through a more frugal use of resources.

These financial savings would normally lead to rebound effects, but a theoretical analysis suggests that donating even a small fraction of the experienced savings can potentially more than eliminate rebound effects. The economic importance of nature is indicated by the use of the expression ecosystem services to highlight the market relevance of an increasingly scarce natural world that can no longer be regarded as both unlimited and free.

However, this only applies when the product or service falls within the market system. One approach to this dilemma has been the attempt to "internalize" these "externalities" by using market strategies like ecotaxes and incentives, tradeable permits for carbon, and the encouragement of payment for ecosystem services. Community currencies associated with Local Exchange Trading Systems LETS , a gift economy and Time Banking have also been promoted as a way of supporting local economies and the environment. Treating the environment as an externality may generate short-term profit at the expense of sustainability.

For example, industrial waste can be treated as an "economic resource in the wrong place". The benefits of waste reduction include savings from disposal costs, fewer environmental penalties, and reduced liability insurance. This may lead to increased market share due to an improved public image.

The idea of sustainability as a business opportunity has led to the formation of organizations such as the Sustainability Consortium of the Society for Organizational Learning , the Sustainable Business Institute, and the World Council for Sustainable Development. One school of thought, often labeled ecosocialism or ecological Marxism, asserts that the capitalist economic system is fundamentally incompatible with the ecological and social requirements of sustainability.

By this logic, market-based solutions to ecological crises ecological economics , environmental economics , green economy are rejected as technical tweaks that do not confront capitalism's structural failures. Sustainability issues are generally expressed in scientific and environmental terms, as well as in ethical terms of stewardship , but implementing change is a social challenge that entails, among other things, international and national law , urban planning and transport, local and individual lifestyles and ethical consumerism. Social disruptions like war , crime and corruption divert resources from areas of greatest human need, damage the capacity of societies to plan for the future, and generally threaten human well-being and the environment.

To achieve sustainability, global peace will probably be needed, because economic growth is one of the main factors that determines the military capability. Without peace and international cooperation, a country that will limit its economic growth, will achieve lower military capability. If there are countries that continues to grow economically, the result may be the conquest of the first country by the ones that continues to grow. Economic growth will continue what can pose problems to sustainability.

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A major hurdle to achieve sustainability is the alleviation of poverty. It has been widely acknowledged that poverty is one source of environmental degradation. It is therefore futile to attempt to deal with environmental problems without a broader perspective that encompasses the factors underlying world poverty and international inequality.

According to the UN Population Fund, high fertility and poverty have been strongly correlated, and the world's poorest countries also have the highest fertility and population growth rates. For example, teaching water treatment to the poor by boiling their water with charcoal , would not generally be considered a sustainable strategy, whereas using PET solar water disinfection would be.

Also, sustainable best practices can involve the recycling of materials, such as the use of recycled plastics for lumber where deforestation has devastated a country's timber base. Another example of sustainable practices in poverty alleviation is the use of exported recycled materials from developed to developing countries, such as Bridges to Prosperity 's use of wire rope from shipping container gantry cranes to act as the structural wire rope for footbridges that cross rivers in poor rural areas in Asia and Africa. According to Murray Bookchin , the idea that humans must dominate nature is common in hierarchical societies.

Bookchin contends that capitalism and market relationships, if unchecked, have the capacity to reduce the planet to a mere resource to be exploited. Nature is thus treated as a commodity : "The plundering of the human spirit by the market place is paralleled by the plundering of the earth by capital.

Whereas most authors proceed as if our ecological problems can be fixed by implementing recommendations which stem from physical, biological, economic etc. A pure capitalist approach has also been criticized in Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change by referring to climate change as "the greatest example of market failure we have ever seen. In regard to the United States of America, The Government and the Economy has had a long lasting impact on the environment, but in a problematic way.

Policy issues regarding the environment has shown that the country regards the protection of the environment as a "second hand issue".