Initiatives: Information


Trade and environment information is a website conceived by the Geneva-based International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (offering a wide range of key resources related to trade, the environment and natural resources, particularly for developing countries. offers the latest news on T&E, a calendar of T&E events, links to institutions working on T&E, relevant legal texts at the international, regional and bilateral levels, and a collection of submissions by WTO Members on trade and environment.

The Centre was established in Geneva in 1996 to contribute to a better understanding of sustainable development concerns in the context of international trade. Its activities span three main program areas: communications and information; policy dialogues; and research and capacity-building. The centre produces several periodicals in different languages including the monthly review Bridges.

Access and benefit-sharing

Access and benefit-sharing (ABS) related to genetic resources is a vital part of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The first concrete work to implement Article 15 of the CBD, entitled «Access to Genetic Resources», led to the adoption in 2002 of what are known as the Bonn Guidelines, a voluntary set of provisions to help countries implement the access and benefit-sharing sections of the CBD.

However, the guidelines are not easy to interpret or implement, particularly for non-State users and providers such as research organizations, private companies, communities and indigenous peoples' groups, who urgently need this help.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is now working with the Canadian group Stratos Inc. – Strategies to Sustainability – on an ABS Management Tool in a project supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). The Tool offers a set of performance standards and process recommendations designed to help clarify good ABS practice and guide its implementation, particularly through prior informed consent. The project sets out to obtain structured feedback and self-testing of its tool by industry, indigenous peoples, governments, researchers and NGOs.

Information from Mark Halle, Director, Trade and Investment, IISD, Geneva