Can We Reconcile International Trade and Investment Agreements with Environmental Protection?

21 August 2015, Geneva, Switzerland - Environmental issues were usually considered irrelevant by economic actors. Beginning in the 80s, this perspective has gradually changed, acknowledging environmental concerns, and integrating them into most economic aspects of industry and trade.

FotoliaThe regimes of international trade and of international environmental law, have been evolving at the same time, but each following its own specifics. International law seeks to balance both aspects, principally through the concept of sustainable development. They pursue a common objective: the promotion of sustainable development. This is the key that enables them to communicate through the same channels in pursuit of similar objectives, even if they have distinct rights and obligation (1).

Currently, professionals involved in negotiating or implementing economic and environmental agreements are not sufficiently knowledgeable on these issues and need training. UNITAR is launching a new course titled “The International Economic Legal System and Sustainable Development”. The first session will take place from 21 September to 16 October 2015.

The goal of the course is to introduce effective ways of integrating sustainable development into international economic agreements and other legal instruments, such as bilateral investment agreements, free trade agreements and the WTO framework in general.

The course analyses a wide range of issues, such as the trade measures involved in multilateral environmental agreements, the role of sustainable development within the World Trade Organisation and regional trade agreements. It presents the concept of mutual supportiveness as a key principle in achieving sustainable development. It also deals with synergies and potential conflicts between foreign investment and environmental protection.

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Registrations for the course are open until the 18 September 2015 from our website:

For more information, please e-mail us on

You can also download the course flyer (PDF)

(1) Boisson de Chazournes, L. & Mbengue, M. M., « A Footnote as a Principle ». Mutual Supportiveness in an Era of Fragmentation », in Hestermeyer, Holder P., Koning, D et al (eds.) Coexistence, Cooperation and Solidarity – Liber Amicorum Rudiger Wolfum – Vol II (2011) at 1623.

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