Yolande Biké, in her office at the Mission of Gabon in Geneva
The environment is one of the concerns which has focalised the fears of WTO opponents over the past few months, particularly during the Conference of Ministers in Seattle. Yolande Biké, the new president of the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment and the first representative from the African continent to occupy this position, understands these anxieties. Moreover, the Gabon Ambassador in Geneva highlights the complexity of this vast issue: "The stakes are high and the subject of much debate. The interdependence between trade and environmental policies (which are not necessarily mutually compatible in such areas as agriculture, services, the exploitation of natural resources, industrialisation, etc.) aggravate differences of opinion and fuel antagonism."
This is the case with environmental standards. "It is a source of great worry to the producers and exporters in developing countries, explains Yolande Biké. Some see it as a concealed form of protectionism, a way of creating new obstacles aimed at blocking access to markets for products from the South. These worries must be relieved or allayed through discussion and the search for substantive technological solutions."
These are complex and vital problems, which affect the North as much as the South. As a result, the office performed by the Gabon Ambassador at the head of the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment takes on crucial importance. "My role should consist in encouraging better communication, in urging delegations towards constructive dialogue in order that these matters be broached in a serene, unhurried fashion, without anything being imposed by one party or rejected by another outright."
-Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Gabon to the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva and Vienna
-President of the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment
-President of the Group of Francophone Ambassadors in Geneva
-Graduate of the Université Catholique d'Angers and of Paris III University (Sorbonne-Nouvelle)
-Project Officer for the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (1982)
-Secretary-General of the Gabon Energy and Water Company (1988)
-Ministerial delegate, then Minister for Youth, Sport and Women's Affairs (1991-1994)