Sustainability Chapters in Free Trade Agreements
Research gaps and future role
This expert workshop is part of a research project of Ecologic Institute and the German Institute of Development and Sustainability, funded by the German Environment Agency. They assess existing literature as well as about 80 globally representative Free Trade Agreements (FTA), combining the TREND database with a qualitative analysis of their provisions. The workshop will present and discuss their preliminary findings and open questions. Experts are invited to contribute with their perspective and enrich the discussion.
Main questions to be discussed include:
- Is there too much emphasis on quantity over quality of sustainability provisions? Assessments in literature might tend to focus on whether a topic is mentioned in the FTA, but less on qualitative assessment such as the (legal) substance of the provisions
- Should research and political attention shift from designing and drafting sustainability provisions to implementing them and assessing their impact, because many FTAs have been concluded by now.
- How to assess the actual implementation of sustainability provisions (as opposed to assessing the provisions on paper)? Methodology and criteria?
- What does the proliferation of sustainability provisions in free trade agreements mean for the future of the WTO?