Trade and Environment: EU welcomes WTO move to allow UN
Environment Programme and Multilateral Environment Agreements to attend negotiations
The EU today warmly welcomed the World Trade Organisation's decision to allow officials from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) to attend WTO negotiations on the environment on an ad hoc basis. EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said: "The Doha Development Agenda is supposed to support sustainable development. That is why we must make sure that organisations with environment expertise such as UNEP and certain MEAs can be present at these talks. The WTO's decision is also a first step in responding to expectations raised at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. We are now encouraged in our efforts and hope that 'ad hoc' turns into 'permanent' status by the time the WTO ministerial meeting in Cancun takes place in September.'
The WTO's decision to allow ad hoc presence of some of the key Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs) and the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) at the WTO negotiations on environment is a decisive step which breaks the logjam on transparency in the negotiations that followed the launch of world trade talks in Doha.
The EU has been pushing the WTO hard for a decision on observer status for these bodies, as the talks already underway in the WTO could affect their future. Among the MEAs concerned are: the Convention on Biodiversity, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Basel Convention on Hazardous Waste, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and the International Tropical Timber Organisation.
Under the decision taken at the WTO, MEAs and UNEP will be allowed to be present at the meetings of the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment. The EU is working for a decision on permanent observer status by the time of the next WTO Ministerial Meeting in Cancun in September 2003.
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