Start 01.03.2022 - End 28.02.2025

Jean Monnet Module: Sustainability and Trade: A European Narrative - SUSTAEN

The aim of the SUSTAEN lecture series is to facilitate an increased awareness of trade and investment agreements’ increasing focus on environmental, sustainable and societal challenges, and in particular to develop the capacity of students to gather specialized knowledge in these fields. SUSTAEN focuses strongly on the European angle, studying how the EU has approached sustainability concerns in its trade and investment agreements.

Over the last decades, the concept of sustainability has gotten a firm foothold in discussions, debates, policies and legislation. Only very recently have sustainability concerns trickled down in the policies related to trade and investment agreements and policies. Traditionally trade liberalization has been promoted as a way to generating economic welfare and a better allocation of resources. However, the focus was less on the social and environmental impacts of these exchanges. It has become clear that a global economy has allowed firms to design their supply chains taking advantage of weaker regulatory regimes in terms of social and environmental regimes as they seek to take advantage of lower production costs. This has attracted significant attention from scholars, policy-makers and the general public. However, if drafted well, trade and investment agreements can actually provide a solution to some of the pressing challenges the world faces today, rather than posing another challenge. Trade and investment agreements have finally come to terms with this evolution, and increasingly address these concerns by for example, the incorporation of clauses requiring states parties to adopt and enforce environmental, social and good governance (anti-corruption, IPR protection) standards. Partnerships play an important role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and trade and investment agreements are one of the major instruments to implement these global partnerships as they allow to make the economic dimension (prosperity) to be put in line with the social (people) and environmental (planet) dimension.  The European Union (EU) has implicitly made sustainability part of its trade and investment agreement, and has explicitly incorporated sustainability concerns into its trade agreements starting from the signing of its trade agreement with Vietnam.

The main objective of SUSTAEN is to educate students, and wider society, on 1) the role of trade agreements, 2) the way in which trade poses sustainability challenges and solutions and lastly 3) how trade agreements have been incorporating sustainability clauses with a particular focus on the leading role of the European Union in this field.

The project is coordinated by Prof. Sven Van Kerckhoven.

See further below for a list of the lectures organised in the context of this project.


  • Tue 17/01/2023, 18:00 - 19:30 SUSTAEN Lecture: Trade and Sustainability: An idea whose time has come, Karel De Gucht - Register here
  • Tue 07/03/2023 18:00-19:30 SUSTAEN Lecture: The Sustainable Development chapters in FTA's, Frank Hoffmeister - Register here
  • Tue 25/04/2023, 18:00 - 20:00: SUSTAEN Lecture: Transatlantic Trade Relations, Cecilia Malmström Register here
  • Tue 23/05/2023, 18:00 - 20:00: SUSTAEN Lecture: Value based trade: How the EU incorporates human rights and sustainability in its trade instrumentsSvenja Hahn Register here
  • Tue 30/05/2023, 18:00 - 19:30: SUSTAEN Lecture: The external dimension of the “Green Deal”: navigating a changing world, Frans Timmermans Register here


More events will be announced soon. Please check this page regularly.

Funded by

European Commission - Jean Monnet Module