New Study on trade and biodiversity

News in the Framework of the European Business & Biodiversity Campaign


New Study on trade and biodiversity

A new study analyses the various ways in which international trade affects biodiversity and analyses what trade policy tools are available to tackle trade-related biodiversity issues. The study was commissioned by the Committee on International Trade (INTA) of the European Parliament.

© EU Parliament, Policy Department for External Relations
The authors state that protecting global biodiversity calls for a variety of instruments, at the EU border as well as in the provisions of preferential agreements. The EU already includes biodiversity-related non-trade provisions in trade agreements, but these provisions are not legally binding and hardly effective. This is partly explained by the complexity of the issues posed by biodiversity: since there is no simple synthetic indicator, policy instruments are difficult to enforce. However, an effort to specify measurable and verifiable commitments is needed; more binding mechanisms, along with transparent and automatic sanctions in case of non-compliance should be considered.

Trade policy instruments – A challenge

In practice, the EU plays a significant role in biodiversity loss in third countries because of its imports of minerals, biomass and some agricultural products such as soybean and palm oil but designing appropriate trade policy instruments is a challenge, according to the authors. Protecting biodiversity in a sustainable way requires not only protecting species or individuals, but also preserving the functional relations within ecosystems and the capacity of an ecosystem to evolve and adapt, in particular to exogenous perturbations such as climate change.

Private sector Initiatives

Taking stock of the deadlock in multilateral negotiations, private actors developed several initiatives along their international supply chains. The evidence on the effective impacts of these initiatives is mixed, it says in the study.  The authors state that  private initiatives can complement public policies and rely on them to improve their efficiency. Conversely, public policy can play a key role in overcoming the barriers encountered by private initiative and unlock some potential.
The study can be viewed here.

Author of summary: GNF