Visualising exports' environmental impact

To help decision-makers better understand the environmental impacts of exports and calculate their effects on a country’s pollution, UNCTAD has created a new dashboard as part of the SMEP programme. The dashboard, prepared jointly with Instituto 17, combines economic, trade and product life-cycle analysis to provide governments and industry actors with key export pollution data for important manufacturing sectors in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The tool helps governments and businesses understand how exports are impacting on the local environment, so they can better align environmental, trade and industrial policies.

The SMEP trade and pollution dashboard presents data for life cycle assessment and allows decision-makers to quickly visualise the different environmental impacts of exports in a region or country, by product or type of impact, such as damage to freshwater or marine ecosystems. The dashboard also maintains a list of the regional trade agreements signed by all sub-Saharan African and Asian countries that are part of the SMEP programme. Regional trade agreements can help manage pollution caused by international trade because they spread responsibilities between buyers and sellers. “As the dashboard expands, it will serve to enhance various streams of research currently pursued through the SMEP programme, including those related to manufacturing and plastic pollution,” says Jonathan Hassall, lead advisor from the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (UK-FCDO).

This article is crossposted from the UNCTAD website.

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April 2022


UNCTAD, Instituto 17


Research Outputs, Toolkits



Environmental Impact of Exports, Manufacturing Pollution


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