Presentation on theme: "Preventing and controlling invasive alien species in trade Issues, problems, and dilemmas Richard G. Tarasofsky WTO Public Symposium, 26 May 2004, Geneva."— Presentation transcript:
Preventing and controlling invasive alien species in trade Issues, problems, and dilemmas Richard G. Tarasofsky WTO Public Symposium, 26 May 2004, Geneva.
2 What are invasive alien species? According to the Global Invasive Species Program: Invasive alien species (IAS) are non-native organisms that cause, or have the potential to cause, harm to the environment, economies, or human health. Invasive alien species (IAS) are one of the most significant drivers of environmental change worldwide.
3 Why are invasive alien species a problem? GISP (continued): The direct costs of IAS to a single country can be in the billions of dollars annually. However, the costs to society greatly exceed those that can be measured in currency. They can also include unemployment, impacts on infrastructure, food and water shortages, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, increased rates and severity of natural disasters, illness, and lost lives. Famous examples include Zebra mussels in North American Great Lakes, water hyacinths in Lake Victoria, Comb Jelly in the Black Sea, and Japanese Kelp in New Zealand and Australia
4 Legal and policy instruments on invasive alien species International Instruments - still at early stages Paragraph 42(I) of WSSD Plan of Implementation Article 8(h) of the Convention on Biological Diversity International Plant Protection Convention IMO Convention on Ballast Water Management WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures IUCN Guidelines for the Prevention of Biodiversity Loss Caused by Alien Invasive Species National instruments - ad hoc and uneven Legislation on biosecurity (New Zealand) Miscellaneous national legislation on wildlife, plants, and health
5 Basic distinctions and approaches Intentional introductions -importer and exporter aware of introduction -should only take place if capacity exists to control it -full information often not available Non - intentional introductions (more challenging case) -difficult to prevent/contain -need to target types of activities/pathways rather than specific items -even less information than for intentional introductions
6 Types of trade measures and issues Import bans export bans controlled trade based on permits and/or prior informed consent trade sanctions to enforce standards -These measures can be multilaterally based or unilateral (or combination of the two) -THE BIG CONTROVERSY LURKING UNDERNEATH: PRECAUTION!!!!
7 How do these measures interface with the WTO regime? Precautionary principle highly disputed in WTO political bodies SPS Agreement jurisprudence does not answer all questions Beef Hormones case, Australian Salmon, Japan Varietals, Japan Apples cases - some thresholds unclear and not at all apparent that countries with limited capacity can meet those thresholds Practice in SPS Committee not instructive - debates about appropriateness of import measures reflect underlying differences over implementing precautionary measures MEAs/WTO problematique still unresolved HOW DOES THIS ALL ADD UP? VERY UNCLEAR!!
8 Developments in the Convention on Biological Diversity Guidelines adopted at COP-6, but were highly contentious relating to precaution, risk assessment (esp. allowance for socio-economic aspects), and relationship to SPS Agreement COP-6 did not adopt SBSSTAs recommendation that Guidelines be reference point for SPS Agreement COP-7 Decision on alien species seeks enhanced multilateral action, cooperation with the WTO Secretariat, observer status for CBD Secretariat in WTO SPS Committee consideration by WTO of risks of invasive alien species
9 Current dilemmas in moving agenda forward Given that that it is very difficult, yet vital, to allow countries to combat IAS by taking precautionary measures that are appropriate to their developmental and biodiversity circumstances: Should the WTO be tasked with addressing these issues substantively, as the CBD COP has requested? Given the dynamics in WTO, is a constructive result realistic? Since the CBD process has proven so controversial, can it be seen as an effective body to handle the international trade aspects? Are soft-law approaches more promising, e.g. IPPC guidelines? In the absence of effective multilateral action, should individual countries continue leading through national legislation?