November 11, 2001 – As Ministers from 142 World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries meet in Doha for the 4th WTO Ministerial meeting, Friends of the Earth International, Greenpeace and World Wide Fund for Nature call upon the WTO to live up to the critical challenge of promoting sustainable development. Since the failed Seattle trade talks, the WTO has come under increasing fire for failing to deal seriously with the problems of poverty, economic inequity and sustainable development.

FOEI, Greenpeace and WWF believe that if the WTO is to address the negative impacts on the environment, WTO members should:

  • affirm that WTO rules respect the autonomy and effectiveness of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and the legitimacy of non protectionist trade measures used in MEAs.
  • recognize the precautionary principle as expressed in various MEAs such as the Rio Declaration, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Kyoto Protocol, as a fundamental and binding principle of international law also applicable to the WTO;
  • support the conduct of an independent assessment of environmental and social impacts of WTO agreements;
  • refrain from any negotiations on investment within the WTO
  • integrate social and environmental considerations into trade policy-making as a general principle; and;
  • eliminate environmentally-harmful subsidies, especially in the agricultural and fishery sectors.

Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth International said: “World trade rules have harmed the environment, increased inequality and undermined democracy. Even as these problems worsen, the rich countries continue to argue that the solution is to do more of the same. Present trade rules must be changed to promote fair, equitable and sustainable development, not simply the interests of big business and wealthy countries.”

Remi Parmentier of Greenpeace International said: “We are seeking a fundamental shift from the WTO: trade rules ought to be subordinate to environmental rules. Full stop!”

Aimee T. Gonzales of WWF said: “The fundamental issue at hand is whether the WTO will respond to the critical challenge of promoting sustainable development or whether it will continue its past pattern of denial and failure. The steps above are clear and simple in their essence and will test governments commitment to sustainable development”

Tony Juniper, Friends of the Earth International: + 539 27 47 or +44 7712 843 207
Remi Parmentier, Greenpeace International: + 34 637 557 357 or + 31 653 504 702
Aimee T. Gonzales, WWF: + 41796927973 or + 934 5391832