Conducting environmental impact assessments on world trade measures
Undertaking prior environmental impact assessments for world trade agreements
The purpose of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and regional trade accords such as the North American Free Trade Association and MERCOSUR, is to build neutral trade policies to avoid border or internal restrictions, thus promoting the free flow of goods and capital. Despite the huge volume and rapid growth of global trade, the environmental implications of the new regime are far from fully known. Trade liberalization should lead to the more rational use of resources between countries, thereby leading to greater efficiencies (economies of scale) and increases in global economic growth. However, there is a risk of eroding high environmental standards if lowest common denominators are adopted amongst trading partners. At the same time, trade liberalization could lead to inappropriate resource use and a shifting of environmental pressures from one region to another, not necessarily towards the region where they can best be handled.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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