Strong environmental institutions, laws and policies and their effective enforcement, effective implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements, and a civil society actively engaged in environmental decision-making and enforcement are key factors in ensuring that CAFTA-DR governments comply with their free trade agreement obligations.
The Environmental Cooperation Program aims at strengthening environmental institutions, laws and policies, and to promote effective implementation and enforcement of these laws and policies, as well as the effective implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and civil society engagement to ensure compliance with Free Trade Agreement’s (FTA) obligations. To achieve this goal, the ECP is focusing on:
- Strengthening environmental legislation, regulations and environmental policies in the following areas: (1) environmental impact assessment; (2) wastewater management; (3) solid waste management; (4) chemical and hazardous substance management; (5) urban air quality management; and (6) administrative procedures for filing environmental claims.
- Strengthening government institutions for the enforcement and effective compliance of environmental legislation by (1) training inspectors, prosecutors, investigators, judges, and other law enforcement officers on investigating, prosecuting, and adjudicating violations of civil and criminal environmental laws; (2) providing technical assistance to wastewater analytical laboratories; (3) improving coordination of officials responsible for enforcing laws related to ensuring the sustainability of fisheries in the region; (4) training customs officials to identify shipments that potentially violate obligations under Multilateral Environmental Agreements; and (6) developing environmental compliance and enforcement indicators.
- Increasing public participation and transparency to support informed decision-making. To foster a civil society that is actively engaged in environmental decision-making and helping to enforce environmental laws—a crucial factor in ensuring the sustainability of the Environment Cooperation Program’s work, ensuring that governments are effectively enforcing their environmental laws, and creating a general culture of environmental protection and sustainable development. Easy access to reliable environmental information is a first step in engaging society. Creating forums and other institutionalized processes for public involvement is another step. A third critical step is educating the public about opportunities and methods for engaging in environmental decision-making.
- More than 429,825 people have benefited from the implementation of the small grants across all CAFTADR countries.
- More than 89,000 people trained in enforcement of environmental laws, public participation and cleaner production practices.
- 22,000 people trained in public participation tools and mechanisms across all CAFTADR countries.
- A total of 203 laws and regulations were improved whereas 29 new laws were adopted to address issues like waste water, air pollution and solid waste.
- Over 3,000 local people reached through the CAFTA-DR Secretariat for Environmental Matters, making them aware of the Environment Chapter’s submission process. The submission process is an innovative mechanism that enables the public to actively take part in the enforcement of environmental laws in CAFTA-DR countries.