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ABSTRACT. Global adoption of the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Change Agreement in 2015 has decisively positioned sustainability as a core value of the international community. Implementing these ambitious commitments to environmental, economic, and social progress will require, however, deeper integration of sustainability into the international trade and investment regime. At the same time, the rise of sustainability as a fundamental global objective offers the trade community an opportunity to revitalize and re-legitimize a governance system that has come under increasing attack from both developed and developing nations. As a key forum for setting the global economic agenda, the G20 is well positioned to facilitate the marriage between sustainability and trade. This article identifies key actions that the G20 can take to ensure that international trade reinforces and advances sustainability, including publically endorsing the incorporation of sustainability goals into all institutions of international economic governance, advocating for a formal sustainability commitment by the World Trade Organization, and calling on governments to conduct sustainability impact analyses of future trade agreements. By embarking on this “Sustainability Initiative,” the G20 can reinforce the global commitment to a sustainable future, revitalize the international trade agenda, and strengthen the foundations of international cooperation. pp. 46–60
JEL codes: Q01; Q56; F1

Keywords: sustainability; trade; development; governance; environment; World Trade Organization; G20

How to cite: Esty, Daniel C. (2017), “Toward a Sustainable Global Economy: An Initiative for G20 Leadership,” Journal of Self-Governance and Management Economics 5(2): 46–60.

Received 24 May 2016 • Received in revised form 29 July 2016
Accepted 30 July 2016 • Available online 20 August 2016

DANIEL C. ESTY
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Yale University

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