And herein lies an opportunity, since economies and companies will only succeed if they are able to make the most efficient possible use of natural resources such as raw materials, energy, and water.
Environmental protection has long since become a matter of “long-term economy.”
Environmental protection must be understood as an active part of our “globalization strategy.”
Companies will only thrive in the long run if their products and production processes take ecological needs into account.
Short-term considerations motivated solely by business interests will remain shortsighted.
Societies will have to manage to implement the “sustainability” principle in order to be viable in the future.
The goal lies in the future, but it is important to set a course in this direction today.
One cannot overestimate the extent to which this approach will benefit the economy by boosting innovation.
Here, [in Germany], global markets are developing with extraordinary force and speed.
And our chances of playing in the very top league of the international market are good.
Today, Germany, together with the United States, is already the top exporter of environmental protection products and is responsible for 18.2 percent of global trade in that area.
In view of the growing interdependence of international economic relations, it is apparent, however, that the global economy needs a coherent ecological regulatory framework.
This framework would ensure that globalization promotes sustainable development.
We cannot let global competition degenerate into a race to the bottom for the lowest environmental standards.
“Environmental dumping” cannot be tolerated.
Instead, we must do everything in our power to consistently improve ecological standards and norms.
To this end, it is imperative that we intensify international cooperation when it comes to the environment and development.
This is one of the challenges that we will have to face in the next round of WTO [World Trade Organization] talks, which will start with the Seattle conference at the end of this year.
International trade agreements that aim to control globalization are precisely the ones that need to include environmental protections in order to achieve internationally established environmental goals, such as combating the greenhouse effect, on the one hand, and to strengthen the international competitiveness of the German economy, with its demanding environmental standards, on the other.