Trade and development systems

Trade and development systems

How is sustainability relevant to Trade and Development Systems?

According to BTC Trade for Development, sustainable trade occurs when the commercial exchanges of goods and services generate social, economic and environmental benefits in accordance with the fundamental principles of sustainable development:

  • Creation of economic value;
  • Reduction of poverty and inequality;
  • Preservation and reuse of environmental resources.

The promoters of these practices want to put the emphasis not only on decent working conditions, but also on the fact that this trade is carried out with a genuine consideration for environmental resources and a concern for the preservation and reuse of raw materials.

Fair trade and organic trade are specific models of sustainable trade.

Key questions for this area

If you are teaching or studying trade and development systems, or are looking to add content, following are some questions you should be able to answer and/or consider:

  • How can international trade magnify the effects of poor environmental policies in the world?
  • In what ways can growth in trade speed up the process of environmental degradation?
  •  In the 21st century we have a large proportion of the population living in poverty and simultaneously face depletion of natural resources and pollution of the environment. So what should be the development path or model?
  • Globalisation of trade has led to increasingly complex inter-linkages between nations, a phenomenon without precedent. This has made the task of mitigating carbon through emissions taxes and trading highly challenging.   Given this complexity how should global trade, as an institution, evolve to deliver on the two key objectives of development and carbon mitigation?
  • Increase in international trade has been directly responsible for the destruction of a larger number of species and ecosystems. How can better economic tools be designed to value and preserve our biodiversity without hurting trade?
  • A higher frequency of trade has made some economies susceptible to job losses and income losses due to intense competition. Can a better mechanism be designed to mitigate such hardships?
  • Africa has special challenges: a history of poverty and increasing impacts from climate change on the future on its food security. How can the design of international trade institutions be cognizant of economies that are lagging behind?
  • Many products exported from developing countries, in which some processing has occurred can have substantial environmental and social side effects.  Describe the issues.  How can the developing countries' own long-term interests associated with production be improved and why?

Useful resources

If you are interested in finding out more about this topic, check out our resources for inspiration.

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