Trade liberalisation, rural poverty, and the environment: global discussions and local cases

Much has been researched and said about the impacts of international trade liberalisation at the country level; but little is known about its social and environmental local-level impacts. Since national averages can mask the existence of winners and losers, national-level studies may be a poor guide to addressing the plight of the rural poor and the environment that are at the core of the agenda of the social and conservation movement. This article compares the international trade-liberalisation debate with the findings of local rural-based case studies in seven countries, co-ordinated by WWF and the World Bank during 2004-2007. It discusses some actions that the conservation and social movement could take to improve the discussion and the practice of trade liberalisation, poverty alleviation, and environmental conservation.