WWF calls EU and Mercosur Ministers to Green Trade
Brussels. The ongoing negotiations between the EU and Mercosur will have little credibility unless they promote sustainable trade through concrete actions, warns WWF, the conservation organization.WWF therefore calls on Commissioners Pascal Lamy (Trade) and Chris Patten (External Relations) and Mercosur Ministers from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, who will meet in Rio de Janeiro on July, 23 to promote environmental incentives in rural areas of Mercosur countries, managed by National Environmental Funds in an transparent and inclusive fashion.
In May, at the Madrid Summit, the Heads of State and of Government of Mercosur and the European Union agreed "to give a new impetus to the economic/trade negotiations under the interregional association agreement" and to "strengthen and deepen their political dialogue on matters of mutual interest on the international agenda, in particular: (….) sustainable development, taking into account the economic, social and environmental dimensions". The Ministerial Meeting in Brasilia should build upon this political commitment and fully apply it to the trade dimension of the bi-regional negotiations.
Ministers meeting in Rio de Janeiro must adopt a clear compromise to promote trade that contributes to "the reduction of existing socio-economic disparities between the two regions" (Joint Declaration, Pag.2) in an environmentally sustainable way. But the Ministerial cannot limit itself to adopting political commitments. It must promote concrete actions to move commitments into actual implementation.
WWF is calling for Mercosur and the EU to put the following actions into practice:
Create a system of environmental incentives in the rural areas of Mercosur countries aimed at promoting environmental services and internalising environmental costs. The scheme should be funded by the EC, initially through a pilot project to be carried out in 2003 with the goal of defining the environmental incentives and setting up National Environmental Funds in Mercosur countries that manage the incentives in a transparent and inclusive fashion. The National Environmental Funds must involve various stakeholders such as governments, producers, civil society NGOs, donor countries, etc.
Address the sustainable development dimension of trade negotiations, on the basis of Sustainability Impact Assessments (SIA) carried out by both sides. Sustainability Impact Assessments must help to identify the appropriate timing and scope of trade liberalisation and other trade-related measures needed to ensure sustainable trade among both regions. The SIA should also indicate the areas where trade liberalisation or protectionism generate greatest impacts on the environment, development and economy, and also the benefits for sustainable development that can be derived from increased trade.
"The European Union has committed itself this year to put sustainability parameters at the heart of its regional and bilateral trade agreements. The Ministerial Meeting in Rio De Janeiro is a test of whether EU talk of sustainable development is just about fine words, or if they are really willing to move forward to environmentally friendly trade" ,said Mikel Insausti, Trade and Investment Coordinator at WWF European Policy Office.
For further information please contact: Mikel Insausti, Tel: +32 2 743 8800, email: MInsausti@wwfepo.org