NAFTA's North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation – How can it be better?
The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) is an international organization created by Canada, Mexico and the United States under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC). The CEC was established to address regional environmental concerns, to coordinate efforts between the three countries and to strategize ways to crate both enforcement mechanisms and incentives for NAFTA industries to comply with the environmental provisions of the NAFTA.The NAAEC mandates the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to cooperate with the CEC to achieve NAFTA environmental goals. This includes acting as a contact point for NGOs and providing assistance in the case of disputes. The efficacy of the CEC is unclear at this point. Its 2008 report commented that “trade liberalization does not in itself favour environmentally preferable goods and services or favour sustainable economies,” but it also said that NAFTA was not as harmful as environmental skeptics projected 15 years ago. In addition, according to its own report, the lack of dynamic collaboration between the Free Trade Commission and the CEC is a “missed opportunity.”
What the CEC does have going for it, however, is its focus on engaging civil society, academics and other stakeholders in the debate through an online forum, papers, advisory committees, and partnerships. While the CEC is self-admittedly not perceived as having strong bonds and networks with government officials in the three countries, building a credible network of stakeholders is a positive step toward meeting larger policy goals. If the CEC can make its recommendations and expert finding relevant to the larger debate, then we are hopeful that its work can inform policy processes, trade negotiations and environmental assessments, leading to improved economic and environmental outcomes.
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