WASHINGTON - Following the first meeting of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Environment Committee on June 17, 2021, the Committee Members released the following statement:
Today the Environment Committee (“the Committee”), established pursuant to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (“the Agreement”), virtually held its inaugural meeting, chaired by Canada, to oversee implementation of, and monitor progress under, the Agreement’s Environment Chapter (Chapter 24).
During the meeting, the Committee focused on reviewing implementation of Chapter 24. The meeting included a fruitful discussion on the progress and challenges in implementing the environmental obligations since the Agreement’s entry into force on July 1, 2020. The Parties also shared how they have each raised public awareness of issues related to Chapter 24 implementation. The Committee emphasized the importance of sharing information and fostering public participation in the implementation of Chapter 24 and shared plans for future public engagement.
The Committee received an update from the Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) on the cooperative activities undertaken since the Agreement’s entry into force. The CEC also reported to the Committee on the submissions on enforcement matters that it has received since July 1, 2020. The Committee recognized the valuable role of the CEC in enabling cooperative activities that advance shared environmental objectives and promote environmental monitoring, public participation, and environmental awareness. The Committee stressed the importance of the effective enforcement of environmental laws, which is an integral obligation of Chapter 24.
The Committee undertook an in-depth discussion on law enforcement cooperation to stem wildlife trafficking and trade in illegally harvested timber. Experts from each Party highlighted outcomes achieved and challenges encountered in law enforcement cooperation and suggested options for the Committee to consider expanding existing law enforcement cooperation to more effectively implement relevant obligations under Chapter 24. In addition, representatives from the Parties’ respective ministries exchanged information on enforcement efforts planned and underway related to timber traceability and sustainable forest management. The Committee used this discussion as a platform for considering options to strengthen collaboration to address wildlife trafficking and illegally harvested timber, both of which are key commitments under the Agreement. The Parties committed to identify gaps in law enforcement cooperation to find areas where the Committee could potentially expand cooperation, including on wood species identification. The Parties also agreed to conduct a mapping exercise on work being undertaken by other existing mechanisms for trilateral cooperation, including beyond law enforcement cooperation, to identify any gaps with the commitment areas under Chapter 24.
The Committee also held the first public session as part of the Committee meeting. The purpose of the session was to share information and hear the views of interested stakeholders from Canada, Mexico and the United States regarding the implementation of the Agreement’s Chapter 24. Public participants had the opportunity to engage directly with Committee Members on trade-related environmental matters in North America.
The Committee reported to the public on the issues discussed during the closed session, including respective efforts to implement Chapter 24, and stressed the importance of ensuring high levels of environmental protection and effective enforcement of the Parties’ respective environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
USMCA/CUSMA/T-MEC Environment Chapter: https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/files/agreements/usmca/24Environment.pdf
Commission on Environmental Cooperation: http://www.cec.org
Environmental Cooperation Agreement: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-11/documents/us-mxca_eca_-_final_english.2.pdf