Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions (TESSD)
Members: 57/164
Open Initiative
Status: Ministerial Statement Released - Work Ongoing

The Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions (TESSD) are intended to complement the work of the Committee on Trade and Environment and other relevant WTO bodies and to support the objectives of the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO, which envisages a global trading system that protects and preserves the environment in accordance with sustainable development.

The co-coordinators of this initiative are Canada and Costa Rica.

About this Plurilateral

The following WTO Members have co-sponsored the TESSD initiative: Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, European Union, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Senegal, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, United Kingdom and the United States.

Plenary Meetings - Agendas and Summaries

The coordinators of the TESSD initiative release an informal summary of every plenary meeting after its conclusion.

Informal TESSD Plenary Meeting Summaries:
Roadmap for TESSD - 2022

As part of their Ministerial Statement (WT/MIN(21)/6) the TESSD Parties released the following roadmap identifying aspirational target dates for the TESSD initiative in 2022.

Month (2022) Event Goal
February TESSD Meeting Adopt workplan to implement operational part of MC12 statement.
April TESSD Meeting Implementation of workplan and beginning of planning and preparations for high-level event.
July TESSD Meeting Take stock of implementation status of MC12 statement and need to adapt the workplan to achieve full implementation of MC12 statement.
October TESSD Meeting Implementation of workplan.
December High-Level Stocktaking Review progress achieved (notably identification of good practices, voluntary actions and partnerships in the relevant areas) and adopt next steps towards MC13.


Public Documents

The following official documents relating to TESSD have been released publicly:


Date: 15 November 2021 Member: All TESSD Parties Document: WT/MIN(21)/6 Our summary: This proposed statement was agreed by the parties ahead of MC12 and opened for co-signatures. It is reproduced in full at bottom of this page. 

Japan’s Proposal for the WTO’s Contribution to Achieving Carbon Neutrality

Date: 22 March 2021 Member: Japan Document: INF/TE/SSD/W/10 Our summary: This document outlined Japan’s proposals for how the WTO could contribute to achieving carbon neutrality. 

Iceland’s Priorities for the TESSD Discussions

Date: 12 February 2021 Member: Iceland Document: INF/TE/SSD/W/5 Our summary: This communication laid out Iceland’s priorities for the TESSD discussions. Iceland believes the TESSD should focus on issues which fall within the WTO’s mandate and can be linked to actual trade policy tools. It considers these to include the liberalization of trade in environmental goods and services and addressing environmentally harmful subsidies. 

The European Union’s Priorities for TESSD Discussions

Date: 8 February 2021 Member: The European Union Document: INF/TE/SSD/W/7 Our summary: The European Union called for discussions in the TESSD on the liberalization of trade in green/climate-friendly goods and services, on how to engage more developing countries on environmental topics and greening aid for trade, and on the transparency of domestic measures such as fossil fuel subsidies, carbon border mechanisms, and the transparency function of the Commitee on Trade and Environment more generally. 

Topics Switzerland Believed Should be Covered by TESSD

Date: 8 February 2021 Member: Switzerland Document: INF/TE/SSD/W/4 Our summary: This communication laid out the areas Switzerland believed should be tackled within TESSD. Specifically the liberalization of environmental goods and services, fossil fuel subsidies, greening aid for trade, the circular economy, plastic pollution, climate adaptation and biodiversity. It also left open the possibility of discussions on other topics. 

New Zealand’s Argument and Proposal for Including Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform in TESSD

Date: 5 February 2021 Member: New Zealand Document: INF/TE/SSD/W/1 Our summary: This communication saw New Zealand make its case for inclusion of fossil fuel subsidy reform as part of the TESSD discussions and included a proposed structure for such an inclusion for adotpion by the TESSD co-sponsors. 

Forum on Trade, Environment & the SDGs (TESS)

The Sustainability portions of this website would not be possible without the support and contributions of our friends at the TESS Forum. TESS supports trade policies that advance environmental sustainability and the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It facilitates dialogue and action to align trade and trade policy with the urgent need for global action on the intersecting crises of climate, nature and pollution, informed by the need to address the social and economic dimensions of sustainable development. Launched in mid-2021, TESS is a partnership of the Geneva Graduate Institute and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and we are proud to house it at the Geneva Trade Platform.

  • IISD - Ministerial Statement Highlights Environmentally Sustainable Trade WTO Members released the TESSD Ministerial Statement despite the postponement of the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference. The ministerial statement recognizes “sustainable development and the protection and preservation of the environment” as “fundamental goals of the WTO,” and acknowledges the role of international trade and trade policy in supporting environmental and climate objectives and promoting more sustainable consumption and production to help reach the SDGs. It also notes the importance of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) in furthering these goals, including the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement on climate change, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

  • WTO - China, US welcomed as new participants in trade and environmental sustainability talks WTO members taking part in the new initiative on trade and environmental sustainability welcomed China and the United States as new co-sponsors for the discussions at their meeting on 4 November. Participants also expressed broad support for a draft ministerial statement that would set out future work for the initiative in areas such as trade and climate change as well as fix a road map for advancing discussions in 2022.

  • IISD - WTO Members Assess MC12 Options for Trade, Environmental Sustainability Work The group of World Trade Organization (WTO) members undertaking “structured discussions on trade and environmental sustainability” (TESSD) is moving ahead on its efforts to determine what its work may cover and how – including what they could include in a ministerial statement ahead of the Organization’s highest-level meeting in December.

  • IISD - G7 Trade Track Backs WTO Reform, Builds Momentum to COP 26 The G7 countries recognized the Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions (TESSD) at the WTO as an opportunity to build momentum to achieve coordinated solutions for global problems such as climate change and biodiversity loss, including through the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow, UK, in November. The ministers agree that countries should work collaboratively to address the risk of carbon leakage and its potential impact on countries that have adopted rigorous approaches to reduce carbon emissions.

Analysis and Articles
  • TESS Forum - Trade and Environment at the WTO: State of Play and Entry Points Authors: Christophe Bellmann, Carolyn Deere Birkbeck, Marianne Kettunen, and Mahesh Sugathan

    This policy brief provides an update on the trade and environment interface from a WTO governance perspective. It presents an overview of the different institutional fora, functions, and processes where this interface is or can be addressed.

  • WEF - Delivering a Climate Trade Agenda: Industry Insights The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Clifford Chance, interviewed representatives from more than 30 companies to better understand how trade can support climate action. Based on insights from these interviews, this report identifies several immediate opportunities for trade policy to support businesses in achieving emissions reductions, as well as areas in which further work is required to ensure trade and climate policy coherence. The report summarizes these findings and suggests paths forward from the perspectives of stakeholders.

  • WEF - Facilitating Trade Along Circular Electronics Value Chains This briefing note presents insights from a series of dialogues, a survey and interviews on the challenges in reverse supply chains for electronics, and presents ideas to facilitate safe, responsible trade for a circular economy in electronics that would be consistent and complementary with existing international environmental treaties.

[Proposed] Ministerial Statement on Trade and Environmental Sustainability (MC12)

Unrestricted version circulated as WT/MIN(21)/6 on 15 November 2021. 


We, the Ministers representing the following Members of the WTO: Albania; Australia; Austria; Belgium; Bulgaria; Canada; Chad; Chile; China; Colombia; Costa Rica; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; European Union; Fiji; Finland; France; The Gambia; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Japan; Kazakhstan; Korea, Republic of; Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Maldives; Malta; Mexico; Moldova, Republic of; Montenegro; Netherlands; New Zealand; North Macedonia; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Senegal; Singapore; Slovak Republic; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu; United Kingdom; and the United States issue this statement at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12):


Noting the communication on trade and environmental sustainability in document WT/CTE/W/249 that launched the Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions in November 2020; Recalling that sustainable development and the protection and preservation of the environment are fundamental goals of the WTO, enshrined in the preamble of the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the WTO; Recognizing the importance of multilateral environmental agreements, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Paris Agreement, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), among others; Underscoring the need for inclusive approaches that reflect the circumstances of the diversity of the WTO’s membership and their specific development needs; Recognizing that international trade and trade policy can and must support environmental and climate goals and promote more sustainable production and consumption, taking into account the importance of a just transition and making progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); Stressing the importance of environmental sustainability as a central issue for the WTO agenda and noting the important work undertaken in the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE), as well as other WTO regular Committees or Bodies where environment matters arise; Reaffirming that the Structured Discussions are not meant to duplicate other initiatives in the WTO, or indeed any other international or global initiative as well as existing WTO agreements and mandates; Highlighting the valuable inputs that stakeholders have given to the Structured Discussions on Trade and Environmental Sustainability, which have already served to enhance discussions by bringing scientific and data-based evidence to deliberations and reiterating the commitment to continue this dialogue and enhance transparency; Noting the recent and current efforts by a diversity of WTO Members to address and promote dialogue and information sharing at the WTO on issues where trade, environmental and climate policies intersect, including on circular economy; natural disasters; climate change mitigation and adaptation; fossil fuel subsidies reform; plastic pollution; combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and ensuring legal and sustainable trade in wildlife; the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; sustainable oceans; facilitating access to green technology; sustainable tourism; sustainable agriculture as well as trade in environmental goods and services; And also noting other ministerial statements1 on issues related to trade and environmental sustainability and understanding that nothing in this statement compels any supporter to join any of them;

Agree to:


Intensify our work on areas of common interest and to identify concrete actions that participating Members could take individually or collectively to expand opportunities for environmentally sustainable trade in an inclusive and transparent way, consistent with their obligations;


Launch dedicated discussions on how trade-related climate measures and policies can best contribute to climate and environmental goals and commitments while being consistent with WTO rules and principles;


Explore opportunities and possible approaches for promoting and facilitating trade in environmental goods and services to meet environmental and climate goals, including through addressing supply chain, technical and regulatory elements;


Identify and compile best practices, as well as explore opportunities for voluntary actions and partnerships to ensure that trade and trade policies are supportive of and contribute to:

(i) achieving a more resource-efficient circular economy;

(ii) promoting sustainable supply chains and addressing the challenges and opportunities arising from the use of sustainability standards and any related measures, in particular for developing Members; and

(iii) promoting and facilitating access to environmental goods and services, including encouraging the global uptake of new and emerging low-emissions and other climate-friendly technologies;


Identify challenges and opportunities for sustainable trade, including for developing and least developed Members, and encourage enhanced collaboration among participating Members in strengthening capacity building and technical assistance on trade and environmental sustainability, including through Aid for Trade;


Support continued discussions on the environmental effects and trade impacts of relevant subsidies and the role of the WTO in addressing these;


Adopt the Roadmap, and take steps to advance work, and commit to review progress after one year, to take stock and with a view to adapting the TESSD work plan.



•  February 2022: TESSD meeting – adopt workplan to implement operational part of MC12 statement. •  April 2022: TESSD meeting – implementation of workplan. Begin planning and preparations for high-level event. •  July 2022: TESSD meeting – take stock of implementation status of MC12 statement and need to adapt the workplan to achieve full implementation of MC12 statement. •  October 2022: TESSD meeting – implementation of workplan. •  December 2022: High-level stocktaking event to review progress achieved (notably identification of good practices, voluntary actions and partnerships in the relevant areas) and adopt next steps towards MC13.