North American public calls on governments to reaffirm their commitment to the environment after 20 years of NAFTA

Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) sends 20th anniversary advice to Canada, Mexico and the US

Montreal, 20 December 2013—Calling for a revival of political will, a new mission and better public participation, today JPAC is requesting that North America’s three environment ministers, the CEC Council, reexamine the role and importance of the CEC, an institution created as part of an historic side agreement to NAFTA, the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation. To read the advice in full, please click here.

After having received 66 comments from the public and hosting a public meeting in Washington, DC, on 17-18 October 2013, JPAC concludes that the CEC has over the last 20 years produced high quality information on the state of the North American environment that has led to important victories such as eliminating the use of DDT, and establishing a national pollutant registry in Mexico. However, JPAC also heard constructive and thoughtful assessments and is making several suggestions on how the CEC might renew its relevance as a galvanizing force for regional environmental cooperation.

Among many other points, the JPAC suggests:

  • Renewed political will: JPAC calls on engagement not only from environmental officials but also from trade officials. The CEC can inform and strengthen other trade agreements currently in negotiation with Europe and Asia.
  • A new mission: Because a “race to the bottom” in terms of environmental standards did not materialize in North America, many see the CEC’s goal as having been accomplished. However, JPAC argues that environmental challenges in the region have not been met, and recommends the CEC focus its priorities on the current issues of the day, including climate change, energy and water resource management.
  •  Meaningful engagement with academia, businesses, indigenous communities and local governments: To make sure the CEC’s work remains relevant, more meaningful consultation with communities that are most impacted by and interested in environmental policy is necessary.