Trade & Supply Chains

You are here

Trade is an important driver of economic growth. However, increasing volumes of trade without appropriate policy support can have adverse consequences, such as pollution and emissions from transport, pressure on natural resources extraction for production and processing, and social marginalisation through rising income inequality or joblessness.

Nevertheless, trade, when accompanied by appropriate regulation, can facilitate green growth by creating new export markets for environmental goods and services, by increasing trade in products certified for sustainability and promoting certification-related services, and by greening international supply chains. The adoption of more resource- and energy-efficient production methods as part of green economy measures has an important role to play in helping both nations and firms secure access to, and long-term competitiveness in, international markets. In addition, adapting trade commitments to positive climate change mitigation efforts is essential. It is not only necessary to reduce potential conflicts between international trade law and environmental measures, but also to encourage the protection of the environment through the trade regime (ICTSD, 2015).

Relevance to the SDGs

Trade affects the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in all sectors. For example, reducing world agricultural market distortion is directly linked to SDG 2 on achieving food security and promoting sustainable agriculture and target 15.7 aims to reduce trade in poached or illegally trafficked wildlife. SDG 8, specifically target 8.A calls for an increase in Aid for Trade to developing countries. And SDG 17 recognized trade as a way to strengthen the means of implementation for sustainable development.

   Agricultural Trade   
   SDG 15.7
        Wildlife Trade        
   SDG 17
Means of Implementation


Boston University Global Development Policy Center, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), University of Oxford, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Learning Products

Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP), United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)
United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), International Trade Centre (ITC)


United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH