Against the backdrop of global supply chains, global environmental crises and climate change, the discussion on interrelations between trade and sustainability has increasingly come to the fore. Ecologic Institute supports the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) in developing politically enforceable options to strengthen sustainability obligations in trade agreements.
In 2019, the EU and the countries of the South American trade bloc Mercosur concluded negotiations on a trade agreement. The negotiated text of the agreement includes a chapter on trade and sustainability. The rules on forest protection are weak, however, and the agreement does not provide for sanctions for violations of sustainability-related commitments, either. Against this backdrop, Ralph Bodle and Christiane Gerstetter, both Senior Fellows at the Ecologic Institute, analyse legal options for strengthening forest protection in the agreement. The legal analysis was compiled on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU).
Global extraction of primary raw materials has been growing continuously for decades, and absolute decoupling between economic growth and resource consumption, let alone environmental impacts associated with the use of natural resources, has not yet been achieved. Although political attention for the issues of resource efficiency, resource conservation and the circular economy has been high for some years at on the international, European and national level, scientific studies call for more ambitious policy approaches in order to achieve global sustainability goals and respecting planetary boundaries in the long term. It therefore appears necessary to further develop resource policies at international and national level.
In Europe, limited information is available about the environmental characteristics of the vehicles stocks and of traded used vehicles in terms of vehicle's air pollutant and CO2 emissions. In this context and on behalf of the European Environmental Agency, Ecologic Institute and Fraunhofer ISI explore available national and European data sources of vehicle stocks and trade throughout Europe and compile the available vehicle characteristics. Based on the available characteristics, the project team derives the environmental performance of vehicle stocks and traded used vehicles and assess respective regional differences in the environmental performance of the vehicles stocks and of used vehicle trade flows.
Re-using used goods and products offers numerous economic, ecological and social potentials. Nevertheless, current waste management practice treats re-use as a secondary priority and not in the sense of a circular economy. This is particularly due to lacking attractive and easily accessible offers and a lack of a corresponding demand for used goods.
Companies in countries with strong climate protection efforts often perceive these efforts as a competitive disadvantage. The risk, that companies lose market share due to asymmetric climate protection efforts or that new investments in ambitious countries decrease is referred to as "carbon leakage". In this project, Ecologic Institute, Öko-Institut and CE Delft examine the impact of new developments in climate policy on the established carbon leakage debate and what policy measures are needed to deal with these developments.
Global demand for minerals is growing rapidly, driven by rapid population growth, urbanisation and an increasingly diverse range of technical applications. Global material supply chains linking the extraction, transport and processing stages of raw materials have become increasingly complex and today involve multiple players and product components. An interactive platform that provides transparency about existing approaches and information gaps concerning global material flows is needed to understand these global supply chains; developing this capability is critical for maintaining competitiveness in the European economy.
The Jean Monnet Network on Atlantic Studies is an initiative across the four Atlantic continents by 10 leading think tanks and independent experts to collaborate in interdisciplinary exploration of three emerging pan-Atlantic themes of particular relevance to the European Union: (1) energy and transport in the context of climate change; (2) commercial interactions such as trade and investment; and (3) pan-Atlantic challenges to human security.
International trade agreements can have an impact on consumers in different ways. On the one hand, they can lead to more or cheaper products to become available for consumers. On the other hand, these agreements contain rules for political and legal meaures that the parties to an agreement may adopt; this can limit the scope for regulation in favour of consumers. How trade agreements are designed is therefore important for consumers. In this project, Ecologic Institute compiles a study for the Federation of German Consumer Organisations, analysing how consumer rights are addressed in international trade agreements and how they can be enforced by consumer organisations.
Resource extraction has often significant impacts on the environment. Ecologic Institute analyses for the German Federal Environment Agency governance instruments which can foster, establish and enforce global standards for environmentally sound raw material extraction. The project assesses international treaties, international customary law and non-binding international instruments, as well as European and national instruments with extraterritorial effect. Based on this assessment, Ecologic Institute develops recommendations how existing instruments could be improved or new approaches could be developed. The study covers abiotic raw materials (metals and ore, other minerals and fossil raw materials) and their extraction, treatment, transport and processing.
The EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking adopted by the European Commission on 26 February 2016 is the most recent EU initiative to tackle wildlife crime. On 8 September 2016, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety of the European Parliament (ENVI) held a workshop in Brussels on 'Delivering and enforcing the EU Action Plan Against Wildlife Trafficking'. With support from the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), Ecologic Institute organized the workshop and compiled the workshop proceedings.
From the 26 until 30 September 2016, the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the "Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species" (CITES COP 17) took place in Johannesburg South Africa. Since CITES entered into force in 1975, such meetings are held every three years to review progress in the conservation of target species and consider adopting proposals to amend this list and improve Convention effectiveness. Given the recent accession of the European Union to CITES in April 2015 and the aims noted above, Ecologic Institute was commissioned by the European Parliament under an existing framework contract to prepare a briefing to the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI). The briefing is available for download.
Wildlife crime is no longer an emerging issue, but has established itself as a serious threat to biodiversity and sustainable development. In the period between 2010 and 2012 alone, for example, 100,000 elephants were killed in Africa for ivory. The EU is both one of the most important markets for illegal wildlife products and an important actor in the fight against wildlife crime. As such, Ecologic Institute coordinated a study on wildlife crime which was commissioned by the European Parliament. Further project partners were the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), the University of South Wales (Jennifer Maher), Ragnild Sollund from the University of Oslo, Teresa Fajardo del Castillo from the University of Granada and Tanya Wyatt from Northumbria University.
Ecologic Institute, Bio IS and the Institute for European Environmental Policy were commissioned by the European Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI Committee) to provide the members with the needed expertise to monitor the ongoing negotiations between the United States Administration and the European Commission for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement.