Trade and biodiversity: new methodology to better assess trade impacts on nature

Today, the Commission published a new methodology for assessing the impacts of trade liberalisation on biodiversity and ecosystems. The new methodology will contribute to further improve the sustainability impact assessments and ex-post evaluations of trade agreements, while also supporting the objectives of the European Green Deal. The methodology provides a stepwise process with a special focus on quantifying the impacts of trade liberalisation on biodiversity, such as forests and wetlands.  It acknowledges the role of trade in supporting a fundamental transformation of the EU economy in line with its green objectives, and is conceived to be flexible and adaptable to the context of various types of trade agreements and partner countries. Executive Vice President for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: “The acceleration of biodiversity loss, paired with climate change and environmental degradation, have led to the recognition of the green transition as the defining challenge of our time. Supporting this ecological transition is one of the core objectives of EU trade policy, reinforced under  our new Trade Policy Strategy. We have committed to prioritising the effective implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity in trade and investment agreements. I welcome this new methodology which will contribute to better assessing the impact of our agreements.” Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said: “Over half of global GDP depends on nature and the services it provides. And yet due to our unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, it is disappearing in front of our eyes, putting our health, food security and economy at risk. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need for sustainable supply chains and consumption patterns that do not exceed planetary boundaries. EU trade policy must actively support and be part of the ecological transition. I am glad this new methodology will help us achieve this key commitment of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.” The new methodology focuses on the identification and application of a set of indicators that capture changes in biodiversity status and trends that may happen as a result of trade liberalisation. It looks at the drivers for the change, pressure on biodiversity, such as land or resource use, impact on biodiversity and responses to address the change – safeguards, or measures to amplify positive impacts. The methodology recommends these impacts to be assessed in a comprehensive manner, using data, research, existing case studies, expert knowledge and stakeholder interviews. It also supports the Commission’s ambition to secure a global agreement addressing the biodiversity crisis at the Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CoP 15) later this year. More information is in the news item and the methodology.