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TULIP Consulting 2022 - Year in Review

With the passage of another year, TULIP Consulting is taking a moment to reflect on its activities. TULIP Consulting seeks to make innovative and inter-disciplinary contributions to trade policy, to contribute to building a more equitable, sustainable, and just world. As the consequences of climate change are becoming increasingly visible, effective action is ever more urgent. A paradigm shift is gradually taking hold in international organizations, governments, and the private sector, as stakeholders search for ways of better integrating environmental imperatives into their objectives and activities. This paradigm shift comes with numerous challenges. It adds to the complexity of policy making, demanding inter-disciplinary approaches and out-of-the-box thinking. Acknowledging this dimension, TULIP Consulting is increasingly focused on inter-disciplinary learning and collaboration. For example, as part of a project commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) UK aimed at designing environmental standards for imported agri-food products, TULIP lawyers and policy experts paired up with an agriculture economist. Another project, commissioned by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, focused on the implications of the EU's proposed Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation on textile and apparel-producing developing countries. This required engaging with product innovators and business leaders in the textile and apparel sector, in order to develop a detailed understanding of not only legal and policy frameworks, but also of the characteristics of different types of textiles and recycling techniques. As the environmental dimension becomes more prominent in trade policy frameworks, especially in industrialized countries, it is critical to ensure that developing countries are not left behind. A holistic approach is required to focus not only on trade and the environment, but also on development. TULIP Consulting strives to add the development dimension to its work. This brings additional complexity to the already complicated challenge of aligning trade and environmental objectives. For example, strengthening environmental standards for agri-food products will be critical for the environment, but could also become a non-tariff barrier for developing countries seeking to access the EU market. Similarly, as highlighted in a project commissioned for VAM, the Public Waste Agency of Flanders, developing an international agreement on natural resource management would be an important step to ensure that we stay within planetary boundaries. But it will also raise equity concerns from countries with low levels of per capita consumption. TULIP Consulting continues to work hard to find policy solutions to these and other pressing questions. TULIP Consulting is grateful to its clients and partners for the trust and opportunity to work on these complex, cutting-edge issues. TULIP also wishes to express appreciation and gratitude to its stellar Advisory Board Members, Scott Andersen, Stephen Fevrier, Maryan Hassan, Robert Lawrence, and Patrick Low, and extends a warm welcome to its newest members: Emily Lydgate, a Senior Associate Professor at Sussex in Environmental Law, and Soledad Leal, senior international trade and investment specialist. Thanks is also due to the team of consultants and staff whose hard work has been instrumental to TULIP's success: Gabriela Alcantara, Elena Antoni, Robert Brock Burton, Sparsha Janardhan, Jayasurya Kalakkal, Patrick Low, Michelle Moraa, Chanya Punyakumpol, Sunayana Sasmal, and Marios Tokas. As 2023 has kicked off, TULIP Consulting is looking forward to continuing its work on cutting-edge policy questions at the intersection of trade, the environment and development, and contribute to building a more equitable, sustainable and just world.


Core Environmental Standards for UK-imported agri food products: Options for pesticide and fertilizer use WWF/TULIP/IEEP December 2022 While agri-food products produced in the UK are subject to an array of environmental production standards, these standards do not apply to imported agri-food products. This risks undermining UK environmental regulations, providing a competitive advantage to food importers, and creating a race to the bottom. One way to address this issue is through establishing core environmental standards in law, that would ensure all food consumed in the UK - including imported food - would be required to adhere to core environmental standards. To operationalize this idea, WWF UK commissioned a study from TULIP Consulting and IEEP to develop a set of case studies and illustrations for the design of core environmental standards. The report was launched in Novembers at the UK Parliament. Click here to read the full report.

Including multilateral environment agreements as "essential elements" in EU free trade agreements Europe Jacques Delors December 2022 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are a critical tool for aligning the EU’s trade and environmental agendas. FTAs can encourage the ratification and implementation of commitments made under Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). To address limitations of existing MEA references in FTAs, momentum is building in the EU to elevate MEA provisions to the status of “essential element” clauses. This policy paper, authored by TULIP's Founding Director Colette van der Ven, together with Pascal Lamy, Genevieve Pons, and Pierre Leturcq, explores the origin of essential element clauses and the rationale of applying them to MEAs, develops parameters to assess what other MEAs could appropriately be considered essential elements of future EU FTAs, and provides suggestions on how to operationalize essential provisions in MEAs. Click here to read the full report.

Promoting circular innovation and ecodesign in the textiles sector Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund September 2022 In March 2022, the Commission came out with a draft Regulation on Ecodesign for Sustainable Products (ESPR). The ESPR, once adopted, will ensure that all products consumed in the EU, including imported products, adhere to relevant sustainability requirements. While the ESPR is an important step towards ensuring more sustainable consumption in the EU, it will have important implications for trade with businesses in developing countries, which may not be in a position to meet the ESPR requirements. To get a better sense of the challenges and opportunities the ESPR will have for trade with developing countries, this report, commissioned by the Finish Innovation Fund Sitra, analyzes the implications of the ESPR on developing countries' textile and apparel exports to the EU, with a focus on Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. This Report was launched during the 2022 WTO Public Forum. Click here to read the full report.

An International Agreement on Natural Resource Management: An overview of the opportunities and challenges OVAM February 2022 Urgent global action is required to address unsustainable material resource use. In this report, commissioned by OVAM, the Flanders Waste Management Agency, TULIP Consulting explores the possibility of, and the implications associated with, developing an international agreement on the management of natural resources. Click here to read the full report.

Designing Environmental Regulation for Agricultural Inputs: Options and Considerations for the UK WWF/TULIP/IEEP January 2022 This Think Piece, prepared by IEEP and Tulip Consulting, and commissioned by WWF, presents initial ideas about developing a methodology to identify environmental regulations for agri-food that could be suitable for core environmental standards, with a focus on biodiversity protection through pesticide approval regulation; biodiversity protection through the regulation of crop nutrient management; climate protection through targeted contributions to net zero; and regulatory measures to protect climate and biodiversity. This Think Piece was cited in the COP 26 Breakthrough Agenda Report. Click here to read the piece.

Other projects

Making trade work for an inclusive circular transition GIZ

Commissioned by GIZ, TULIP is developing a report focused on the role of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs) in bringing about an inclusive circular economy transition. Specifically, TULIP analyses how WTO and RTA provisions can hinder or facilitate the transition to a circular economy, with a special emphasis on the implications for developing countries. Moreover, the report includes a case study that demonstrates how India can leverage the ongoing EU-India RTA negotiations to advance a domestic circular economy transition.

Trade agreements and the environment Europe Jacques Delors TULIP Consulting's Director Colette van der Ven is working with Pascal Lamy, Genevieve Pons, and Pierre Leturcq from Europe Jacques Delors to develop various policy papers exploring the intersection between EU trade agreements and the EU's environmental agenda.

Deep Trade Agreements The World Bank TULIP Consulting has been working with the World Bank to update the World Bank’s Deep Trade Agreements Database. The data collected in this Database enables countries to better understand how commitments made as part of their trade agreements have evolved over time and how these commitments compare to other countries. TULIP Consulting has also developed country-specific analysis on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS), Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), and Investment commitments.

Research on Africa and the World Trade Organization London School of Economics, Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa TULIP Consulting researchers are working with the LSE’s Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa on various policy papers on Africa. One paper, which provides new insights on Africa and the WTO, will be published as part of a forthcoming book on African Trade Policy. Another paper, supported by the African Climate Foundation, analyzes the implications for Africa of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). It further identifies how African countries can leverage international legal frameworks to advance their development interests.

Trade and biodiversity United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) TULIP Consulting researchers have been working with UNEP on various research papers exploring the intersection between trade and biodiversity. In particular, the work focuses on how trade agreements can be leveraged to minimize the EU's deforestation footprint; the implications of developing a Codex Planetarius; and the trade implications of the landmark UN biodiversity agreement that was adopted by the parties in December 2022.

Project on Industrialization in the Philippines International Trade Centre (ITC) TULIP Consulting has been working with the ITC to advise the Philippines on how to adopt green industrial policy strategy fit for the 21st century. TULIP Consulting has taught various workshops to government officials to discuss this and related issues.

Presentations and Workshops

From “Ambition to Action” at the WTO Public Forum Tulip Consulting's Director, Colette van der Ven participated in three different panel events at this year’s WTO Public Forum. Her presentations covered the circular economy and services trade.

Identifying the role of trade for Africa's development London School of Economics’ Firoz Lalji Institute and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung invited TULIP Consulting's Director Colette van der Ven to a research workshop on Africa and trade.

Presenting Core Environmental Standards work to the UK Government Together with WWF UK and colleagues from IEEP, TULIP Consulting presented findings from its research on core environmental standards to various stakeholders, including DEFRA, DIT, and others.

Podcast on the Circular Economy and the Role of Trade Policy Together with Mahesh Sugathan from the Forum for Trade, the Environment, and SDGs (TESS), TULIP Consulting's Director Colette van der Ven appeared on the podcast "Trade Knowledge Matters" by Frontier Economics to discuss trade, development and the circular economy. You can listen to the podcast here.

Launch of Report "Trade and the Circular Economy: A Deep Dive Into Plastics Action in Ghana" TULIP Consulting's Director Colette van der Ven and Clem Ugorji, Founder of Circularium Africa Advisory, presented findings of their report on trade, Ghana, and the circular economy, to government and private sector stakeholders in Accra, Ghana. This work was commissioned by the World Economic Forum and the Global Plastics Action Partnership. The report can be accessed here.

Unpacking the links between food security, trade and climate change London School of Economics’ Firoz Lalji Institute and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung invited TULIP Consulting's Director Colette van der Ven for a very interesting two day workshop that explored the complex intersection of food security in Africa, trade and climate change. TULIP Consulting is looking forward to further exploring these questions in the next few months through in-depth research and analysis.


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