Short Answers to Big Questions on the WTO and the Environment



World Trade Organization

The world economy has changed profoundly over the past decades, as there has been a sharp increase in population and a near tripling of average income since 1960. During this period, our economies have become ever more integrated due to advances in communication and information technologies, along with lower barriers to global trade and investment.

These developments have made it possible for production to be increasingly organized into global value chains, where goods are designed in one country, made from parts built in several other countries, assembled in yet another country, and then shipped to consumers around the world.

By boosting growth, trade has contributed to an unprecedented reduction of poverty levels. In fact, the United Nations (UN) met its goal of halving extreme poverty five years in advance of its 2015 deadline. But as trade has grown, concerns have also been voiced about its effects on the environment and, more generally, about the capacity of nature to cope with the environmental effects of economic activity.

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© World Trade Organization 2020