CAFTA-DR Chapter 17
In CAFTA-DR Chapter 17, Environment, the CAFTA-DR countries agree to ensure that their laws and policies provide for and encourage high levels of environmental protection, to continue to improve those laws and policies and to not fail to effectively enforce them. They also agree not to waive or derogate from them in order to encourage trade or investment.
In the Chapter the Parties also agree to maintain certain procedural mechanisms, including mechanisms for the enforcement of their environmental laws, and recognize the importance of maintaining voluntary mechanisms to enhance environmental performance. They also created an Environmental Affairs Council, comprised of very senior officials from each of the Parties, to oversee the implementation of the Chapter. In addition, the Chapter established various opportunities for public participation in matters related to the Chapter. These opportunities include a process by which members of the public can make submissions asserting that a Party is failing to effectively enforce its environmental laws. To support this mechanism the Parties designated a “secretariat” (Secretariat for Environmental Matters) to consider public submissions on environmental law enforcement.
Finally, the Parties highlighted the importance of cooperating to strengthen their capacity to protect the environment and to promote sustainable development in concert with strengthening trade and investment relations. Annex 17.9 of the CAFTA-DR highlights the value of environmental cooperation in meeting mutual economic and social development goals, and identifies priorities for environmental cooperation.