About the TSDS

The biennial Trade and Sustainable Development Symposium, organised by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and held alongside the WTO ministerial conference for over a decade, is the leading multi-stakeholder platform for intellectual enquiry and dialogue on sustainable development and the global trade and investment system. It acts as an inclusive platform outside of the WTO negotiating setting for sharing ideas, engaging in dialogue, and influencing trade policy negotiations. Drawing in participants from government, business and civil society, the Symposium helps to maintain and elaborate a global vision of sustainable development in trade and investment policymaking.

TSDS Methodology


Fostering strategic partnerships with a variety of stakeholders and influencers across the world to bring analysis and evidence into policy negotiations


Providing a platform for meaningful engagement that enables the free exchange of views and opinions on issues related to trade and sustainable development


Ensuring broad outreach by engaging stakeholders outside of the traditional trade community including voices that might not otherwise be heard

A multi-stakeholder approach

An unmatched opportunity to bridge gaps between multi-stakeholders engaged in trade and sustainable development processes

TSDS History

From ad hoc civil society meetings in Singapore (1996), Geneva (1998), Seattle (1999) and Doha (2001), to the more formalised multi-stakeholder gatherings seen since Cancun (2003), the Trade and Development Symposium has emerged as an unmatched forum to bridge gaps between multi-stakeholders engaged in trade and sustainable development. (See TSDS past events.)

"The TSDS is an exceptional event where a parallel track of highly substantive interaction takes place at the time of the WTO ministerial between all levels of stakeholders to better understand the relevant issues and provide an insightful basis for considered solutions"

Harsha V. Singh, Executive Director, Brookings India, Former Deputy Director-General at the WTO (2005–2013)