United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)


Anja von Moltke

Head, Environment and Trade Hub

Economics and Trade Branch

Economy Division

E-mail: anja.moltke [at] unep.org ()

anja.moltke [at] unep.org

UN Environment, established in 1972, is the voice for the environment within the United Nations system. UN Environment acts as a catalyst, advocate, educator, and facilitator to promote the wise use and sustainable development of the global environment. To accomplish this, UN Environment works with a wide range of partners, including other UN entities, international organizations, national governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and civil society.

UN Environment’s work encompasses:

  • Assessing global, regional and national environmental conditions and trends;
  • Developing international and national environmental instruments;
  • Strengthening institutions for the wise management of the environment;
  • Facilitating the transfer of knowledge and technology for sustainable development; and
  • Encouraging new partnerships with civil society and the private sector.

UN Environment’s overall mandate is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

Selected TCB programmes and initiatives in this guide

Technical Trainings Supporting International, Regional and National Design and Implementation of Sustainable Trade and Investment Policies
Environmental Goods Agreement
Providing Information and Analysis on Voluntary Sustainability Standards
Shaping Governance at the Trade, Investment and Environment Nexus
Legal and Regulatory Frameworks in Green Markets and Global Value Chains
Assessing Trade Opportunities in the Transition to an Inclusive Green Economy
UN Environment South-South Exchange Mechanism
South-South Trade in Renewable Energy
Reducing the Footprint of Trade
Alternative Models of Trade
Environmental Goods Trade Flow Mapping
Successful projects

UN Environment has led many successful trade-related projects in the last several years, for example, the Green Economy and Trade Opportunities Project (GE-TOP). GE-TOP examines the positive trade opportunities available in the transition to a green economy, providing tangible examples, guidance on how to maximize gains from these opportunities, and a platform for interested parties to discuss the opportunities in the respective regions, as well as the global, context. While GE-TOP is global in nature insofar as all countries can examine their involvement in international trade from a green economy perspective and enact appropriate policies, the project activities focus on providing an analysis of trade opportunities for developing countries. The first part of the project produced the report entitled “Green Economy and Trade – Trends, Challenges and Opportunities.” The second part of the project consists of national-level analyses of trade opportunities in a selection of developing countries across geographical regions.

The Intra-ASEAN Value Chain Cooperation and Trade in Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Technologies project provides another successful example. This work analyses the potential for enhanced intra-ASEAN value chain cooperation and trade in seven selected renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies (air conditioners, refrigerators, lighting, distribution transformers, electric motors, solar PV and solar thermal) and the related benefits for ASEAN countries. It provides specific recommendations to ASEAN policy makers for increasing intra-ASEAN value chain cooperation and trade in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, including within the framework of the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) negotiations and other relevant trade agreements. The project also features a case study of the solar PV value chain in Vietnam and included capacity building workshops with ASEAN policy makers and other key stakeholders in order to impart the outcomes and findings of the study, along with related implications and policy options. The project was implemented in partnership with the International Cooper Association (ICA) and contributes to the ASEAN SHINE program on regional policy action on standards harmonization and trade in clean energy technologies.

In collaboration with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Environment and Trade Hub created a Sustainability Toolkit for Trade Negotiators. Recent years have witnessed a boom in regional trade and investment agreements (RTIAs). A growing number of them have environmental elements, which provide important implications for the nexus of environment and trade policy at the governance level. As a result, this project helps countries to better understand, draft and negotiate provisions in RTIAs by providing a toolkit with principles, a checklist for negotiators, as well as an analysis of examples and best practices for guiding RTIA negotiations. In the longer term, this work aims to encourage RTIAs to increasingly facilitate countries' mutual pursuit of environmental and social priorities such as combatting climate change, enhancing resource efficiency, and ensuring social inclusiveness.


SDG 17 affirms that partnership is key to achieving sustainable development through enhanced policy coherence and international support. The Environment and Trade Hub is designed to deliver capacity building services through a wealth of expertise within and outside UN Environment for achieving environmental and social sustainability across the full range of trade-related SDGs. In addition to UN Environment’s divisional, regional, and national offices and institutional partners around the world, UN Environment will actively seek new national and regional partners for effective and tailored delivery. Partners include the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), IISD, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), UNCTAD, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Labor Organization (ILO), the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), the International Trade Centre (ITC) and many others.

UN Environment also partners with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), UNIDO, ITC, and UNCTAD within the United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS), a platform that provides information and analysis on voluntary sustainability standards. The UNFSS was launched in March 2013 and has a particular focus on the value of voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) as tools for developing countries to deliver upon the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in line with national policy objectives.