In light of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the international regulatory and political framework for trade and investment in environmentally sound technologies (ESTs) has been decisively reshaped. ESTs are a sub-set of environmental goods, which are defined as goods that directly contribute to environmental protection and climate change mitigation. Yet many developing countries still lack the knowledge and capacity to harness trade and investment opportunities in ESTs.
In this context, the Environment and Trade Hub, in partnership with the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and local partners, organized a workshop entitled “Unlocking Trade in Environmentally Sound Technologies: A Regional Perspective from ASEAN” in Kuala Lumpur on 13th October. The workshop brought together 40 participants from government agencies, private sector associations, and civil society groups to discuss key challenges and opportunities for trade and value chain integration in ESTs in Malaysia and in the ASEAN region.
Supported by the Malaysian Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA) and the University of Malaya, the workshop was held in conjunction with the International Greentech & Eco Products Exhibition & Conference Malaysia (IGEM 2017), a flagship trade event in the region.
The Environment and Trade Hub of UN Environment opened the workshop by delivering an overview of the role of trade in scaling up ESTs to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement, highlighting benefits and opportunities arising from trade in ESTs, particularly for developing countries, and illustrating UN Environment’s mechanisms to support countries in harvesting those opportunities.
The Secretary General of KeTTHA, Prof. Dato’ Seri Zaini Ujang, reflected on the current policy landscape in Malaysia in the context of the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement in his keynote presentation, focusing on the newly launched Malaysia Green Technology Master Plan 2017-2030.
Ms. Normah Osman, Senior Director at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry of Malaysia, provided insight into tariff reductions on select environmental goods under the APEC framework and their implications on the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) negotiations.
The EU Trade counselor to Malaysia, Mr. Nicholas Dross, shared the EU’s experience in defining and accelerating the uptake of environmental goods through trade policy instruments, including the plurilateral negotiation on the EGA.
Representatives from industries and academia, including the Malaysian Photovoltaic Industry Association, First Solar, a leading manufacturer, JA Solar, as well as the University of Malaysia and Toulouse Business School, joined the second session of the workshop. The discussion centered around market trends and value chain development in solar products, non-tariff measures to trade, regulatory frameworks, as well as impacts of trade remedies on solar trade and production.
The workshop kicked off the UN Environment project on Trade in Environmentally Sound Technologies, supported by the European Union through the Global Public Goods and Challenges (GPGC) programme. The project aims to contribute towards sustainable, environmentally credible and inclusive value chain integration and trade in ESTs, by providing support to developing countries to identify, assess and harness opportunities stemming from liberalized trade in ESTs. As part of the project, two regional assessments will be conducted in the ASEAN region and East Africa region respectively, complemented by policy dialogues and stakeholder consultations. The project builds upon the Hub’s scoping study on Intra-ASEAN value chain integration and trade in renewable energy and energy efficiency products, as well as the project on South-South Trade in Renewable Energy.