Committee to review NAFTA’s environmental side accord

A six-member, independent committee appointed by the Council of the CEC—composed of the environment ministers, or equivalent, for Canada, Mexico and the United States—will review the operations and effectiveness of NAFTA’s environmental side accord, the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC).

The committee, announced in October, is expected to prepare a report of its finding by the spring of 2004—10 years after the implementation of the NAAEC. The agreement was signed in 1993 to address regional environmental concerns, help prevent potential trade and environmental conflicts, and promote the effective enforcement of environmental law. Its provisions also created the CEC.

The report will therefore examine the CEC and its programs, evaluate how the organization has addressed the environmental impacts of NAFTA, and also provide recommendations to the Council on charting a path for the CEC over the next decade.

The Ten-year Review and Assessment Committee (TRAC), chaired by Pierre Marc Johnson, a lawyer and former Premier of Quebec, issued a call for public comments shortly after the appointment. Interested parties were asked to comment on past activities of the CEC as well as make suggestions for future work.

David Runnalls, president of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, told Inter Press News that the review should “come to the conclusion very rapidly that the CEC needs some more muscle and some more teeth. How it gets there, I don’t know, but that does mean much more input on the trade policy of the three countries.”

Council chose the six members of the TRAC based on their knowledge of trade and the environment or related fields, their familiarity with the NAAEC and the CEC, and their experience in business, academia, or nongovernmental organizations.