There has been a longstanding academic debate about the positive as well as negative impacts of trade liberalisation on the environment. Similar to the broader debate on the gains from trade, this discussion offers no easy answer for policy makers. Rather, it has shown that minimizing trade-related threats to the environment and maximizing opportunities requires a nuanced understanding of likely country-specific environmental impacts arising from trade policy and trade promotion activities. Assessing the environmental impacts from trade is, therefore, essential for designing sound policies and programs for promoting trade. With the rising threat of climate change and a growing global concern regarding environmental degradation, the importance of environmental impact assessment has further increased.
While the assessment of socio-economic implications of trade liberalization is well-established, approaches to analyzing the environmental dimensions of trade policy and trade-related activities are more dispersed. This study provides an overview of available frameworks and methods for environmental impact assessment and analyzes their usability in the context of trade-related development cooperation. With the proposed stocktaking and assessment of existing frameworks and methods the study aims to contribute towards improving the practice and application of environmental impact assessments of trade-related policies and programs.