"100 women and 1000 more": Ilaria Espa


Institutional Communication Service

25 November 2019

Ilaria Espa is among the women chosen for the campaign “100 women and 1000 more”. She is assistant professor of International Economic Law at Università della Svizzera italiana, Senior Research Fellow at the World Trade Institute of the University of Bern and lecturer at Università Statale Milan. Climate change and the promotion of renewable energies are the focus of her specialisation in international economic law, international environmental law and European Union law.

Issues such as the regulation of international trade flows at the time of globalization or the processes and rules that define the rights and obligations of states with respect to the adoption of their environmental policies, are her passion, mostly because of the role that they play in our daily lives. Such passion is fueled by the interaction with colleagues and experts, but mostly by the dialogue with the younger generations including her students who continue to be her main source of inspiration “for their unconventional way of tackling problems, and for the energy they put in finding original solutions to improve the current regulatory structure”. Although it is not easy to understand at first how the system of rules created to face the great environmental challenges interacts with international economic law. There is instead a strong and growing complementary nature, which Espa clarifies as follows: "On the one hand, environmental policies are often based on trade policy, on the other hand, international trade rules authorise (albeit under certain conditions) such measures precisely because of their environmental aims". 

Espa is the author of many publications on trade and sustainable development. She also looks at the Swiss situation, at our country's efforts to reduce emissions. Switzerland has in fact ratified all the major international treaties on fighting climate change, the most recent of which is the Paris Agreement: "within the framework of this latest agreement, the Federal Council has recently revised its commitments and raised the bar, in addition to reducing its emissions by 50% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, it will achieve the so-called climate neutrality by 2050 (i.e., reaching the point where greenhouse gas emissions do not exceed the earth's capacity to absorb these emissions)", emphasises Espa. It is also an awareness-raising process towards the public, where it is important to explain the costs of implementing policies to fight climate change. "The key message that we are called to spread - continues Espa - is that the transition to a sustainable economy can and must turn for the country into an opportunity for growth. It is precisely in this sense that international economic law comes to the aid of those governments that, like Switzerland, are looking for an effective but economically efficient tool to bring about major structural changes such as the energy transition".

Among the people who inspired Espa was the American economist William Nordhaus, Nobel Prize laureate for Economics in 2018 for his studies on the interaction between the economy and climate. Among women, on the other hand, she chooses astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, a model for young women for "having led a career always at the highest level in a difficult field traditionally dominated by men". Espa sees in the title of the campaign itself "100 women and 1000 more" an important call to learn about strong female role models, who are larger in number than the ones in the project, and who have achieved excellent results in various professions. 


Read the portrait of Ilaria Espa on the initiative website: