The Governments of the United States of America and the Kingdom of Bahrain (?the Governments?), recognizing the importance of protecting the environment while promoting sustainable development in concert with the expanded bilateral trade and investment ties accompanying the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement, have, through the Joint Forum, developed the following Plan of Action (?Plan?) pursuant to the U.S.-Bahrain Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Cooperation (?MOU?).
The Annex to the MOU identifies the following as priorities for environmental cooperation between the United States and Bahrain with the goal of improving Bahrain 's ability to protect the environment by building human and institutional capacity in the management and conservation of natural resources:
II. MUTUALLY-IDENTIFIED GOALS
Prior to the appointment of the Joint Forum, participants from an informal network of interested parties from both governments initiated several projects adhering to the MOU Annex priorities. Building on this foundation, the Joint Forum has developed and is putting forward the following Plan of Action, incorporating activities to be pursued during the period 2005-2008, including activities that are currently underway, in the planning stages, or proposed. The Joint Forum intends to review progress toward achieving the objectives of this Plan in future consultations to assess cooperative environmental activities undertaken pursuant to the MOU. The objectives and activities set forth in this Plan may be updated and modified by future consultations between the Governments, and the implementation of activities is contingent upon the availability of funding and other resources from the Governments and other sources.
a) Strengthening the Capacity to Develop, Implement and Enforce
Environmental Laws and Regulations
b) Improving the Public and Private Capacity to Conduct Environmental Impact Assessments in Bahrain
c) Encouraging the Development of Incentives and Voluntary Mechanisms to Contribute to the Achievement and Maintenance of High Levels of Environmental Protection
d) Promoting Opportunities for Public Participation in Environmental Protection Efforts and Improving Public Access to Information and Access to Justice on Environmental Issues
e) Developing Projects and Programs to Improve Air Quality and Reduce the Adverse Health Impacts of Air Pollution
f) Improving Water Resources Management
g) Protecting Coastal Environmental Zones and Estuaries and Preventing the Over-exploitation of Living and Non-living Marine Resources
h) Strengthening the Capacity to Protect Endangered Species
As the Joint Forum further defines cooperative programs, projects and activities under the Plan, it intends to strive to identify performance indicators and benchmarks to measure the progress made in accomplishing or otherwise furthering the goals and objectives of such programs, projects and activities and to facilitate public reporting of that progress. To the degree that the Governments use independent sources of monitoring data and evaluation to assess progress, they intend to collaborate with those other sources in identifying suitable performance indicators and benchmarks.
IV. MONITORING AND EVALUATION
Through participation in the Joint Forum, the Governments intend to seek and consider input from relevant local, regional and international organizations regarding relevant environmental conditions and indicators and views on the utility of cooperation under this Plan. The Governments also plan to encourage public participation in setting goals for and implementing environmental collaboration, and to make information on activities carried out under the MOU available to the public on a regular basis. As part of the regular consultations of the Joint Forum under the MOU, the Governments plan to establish benchmarks and indicators in order to evaluate progress toward meeting the goals established under the Plan.