Multilateral Environmental Agreements
Various MEAs have been worked out from time to time during the past several decades, even before the notable 1972 Stockholm Conference on Human Environment (with its origins on sustainable development). There are currently about 200 MEAs which are addressed to solve the emerging global environmental problems. These have accelerated in their formulation and implementation since about the mid-1980s. In general, MEAs complement some of the international policy measures aimed at the upkeep and protection of environmental resources. Some of the MEAs impose prohibitions on trade, and a few others seek to modulate the methods of production via stipulations of process and product characteristics. This chapter examines some of the issues with particular focus on the interface of trade and environmental measures at the international levels.
The potential conflict between trade and environmental measures, and between developed and developing countries in devising cost- effective measures was recognized at the UNCED in 1992. Accordingly, the Agenda 21(Chapter 2) stated: 'account should be taken of the fact that environmental standards valid for developed countries may have unwarranted social and economic costs in developing countries'. However, Agenda 21 fell short on suggesting any operational guidelines. Trade and environment issues were proposed to be addressed separately in another forum.
Some of the major concerns in this chapter include the role of environmental trade measures in effecting environmental objectives,