World Trade Board Initiative: to support the development of sustainable trade within a circular economy

The World Trade Board has established a Working Group to identify the opportunities for collaboration across interested stakeholder groups with a focus on sustainable trade, taking into account the vision of a circular economy aligning economic growth with environmental conservation.

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Trade stands on the precipice of a digital revolution. We are rapidly approaching a point where sanctions screening must be further enhanced and complemented by sustainability screening techniques. In future, banks will more and more be required to perform due diligence to confirm the provenance of goods, conforming to accepted standards of ethical sourcing.


KYC (Know-Your-Customer) will extend to KYO (Know-Your-Object) supported by supply chain mapping and traceability solutions linked to key social and environmental issues. Taking this a step further, there is a compelling need to look beyond sustainable trade towards the vision of a circular economy, aligning economic growth with environmental conservation by securing business practices that are both restorative and regenerative. It is in this context that digitalisation may be seen not only to be opening up opportunities for broader access to new markets, but also significantly increasing transparency in terms of sourcing, tracking and tracing, hence reducing operational risk and nurturing responsible forms of technological innovation.

A world of trade previously dominated by the exchange of paper documents and labour-intensive manual checking processes is rapidly being overtaken by electronic verification, making use of radio frequency identification (RFID) and the Internet of Everything. Not only can we track goods in transit, we can also track the conditions under which those goods are being stored; we can also prove where those goods have come from and we can use the circulation of data to support the environmentally-friendly re-circulation of resources.

Failure to take full advantage of current advances in technology will ultimately limit the economic benefits of trade, preclude the establishment of new trading relationships, and damage ambitions for long term financial and environmental sustainability and conservation.

The World Trade Board Working Group seeks to identify the opportunities for collaboration across interested stakeholder groups to further support the development of sustainable trade within a circular economy.

Working Group Chair and Board members:

  • Leanne Kemp
  • David Hennah
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