OECD COP26 Virtual Pavilion

Assessing the impact of trade agreements on climate action: The critical role of the public voice

Nov 5, 2021 | 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM


Countries negotiating trade agreements may seek to assess the potential effects of these agreements on sustainability to ensure the best possible outcomes for climate action and address growing concerns from the civil society. Such sustainability impact assessments (SIA) may help promote environmental protection, support a better integration of women, vulnerable populations and small businesses into the global economy. The process underpinning an SIA provides a critical opportunity for dialogue among stakeholders and trade policymakers, empowering the public voices and rebuilding confidence in the trading system. However, different approaches to assessing sustainability impacts, including economic modelling, qualitative causal chain analysis and stakeholder consultations, come with their own strenghts, challenges and limitations. They need to be suited to the circumstances at hand to provide reliable and policy relevant conclusions in due time. Among them, public participation and stakeholder consultations can be an important means of gathering more granular evidence not available via other methods, while offering a critical path for enhancing dialogue and trust between policy makers and society, promoting greater awareness and building support for the negotiated provisions. This panel will share perspectives on the challenges, opportunities and best practices for involving the public in assessing the sustainability impact of trade and trade agreements.

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