On January 9, 2013, the United States and Chile held the sixth meeting of the Environmental Affairs Council (EAC) under the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the fourth meeting of the Joint Commission for Environmental Cooperation (JCEC) under the U.S.-Chile Environmental Cooperation Agreement (ECA).
The EAC was chaired by Ana Novik, Director of Multilateral Economic Affairs in Chile’s Ministry of Foreign Relations’ Directorate for International Economic Relations, Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, and Jennifer Prescott, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Environment and Natural Resources, Office of the United States Trade Representative. The JCEC was chaired by Ambassador José Luis Balmaceda, Director of Environment and Natural Resources in Chile’s Ministry of Foreign Relations and Assistant Secretary Kerri-Ann Jones. Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Brian Doherty from the U.S. Embassy in Chile also attended.
The U.S. delegation included officials from the Department of State, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of the Interior; the U.S. Embassy in Chile also participated. For Chile, officials participated from the Ministry of Foreign Relations (the Directorate for Environment and Maritime Affairs and the Directorate for International Economic Relations), the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Mining, the General Water Directorate, the National Forest Corporation, and the Environment Superintendency.
The EAC reviewed implementation of, and compliance with, the obligations in the Environment Chapter of the FTA. Chile presented its successful reforms of environmental institutions, highlighting the establishment of the Ministry of Environment, Environmental Evaluation Service, Superintendency of Environment, and Environmental Tribunals. Additionally, they noted advances in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and discussed opportunities for exchanging information and approaches in this area. They also explained measures taken to strengthen public participation, which will contribute to strengthening Chile’s investment and commitment to sustainable development.
The United States highlighted its actions to increase levels of environmental protection, ensure effective enforcement of environmental laws, and provide opportunities for public participation in environmental governance and the trade policy-setting processes.
The JCEC considered environmental cooperation projects completed under the third Agreement Work Program for 2009-2011 and the status of on-going environmental cooperation projects. Chilean and United States agencies participating in the meeting reported on some of the 32 activities carried out during the Work Program period, activities that have achieved results such as strengthening natural resource policies involving more than 6 million hectares of national parks and private lands; reaching approximately 30,000 people in civil society to promote public participation; and training over 300 people in natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and environmental enforcement.
The JCEC also approved the fourth Work Program for 2012-2014, which establishes the following priorities for cooperative activities: strengthening effective implementation and enforcement of environmental laws and regulations; encouraging development and adoption of sound environmental practices and technologies; promoting sustainable development and management of environmental resources; and, civil society participation in environmental decision-making and environmental education.
A public session took place in the afternoon, pursuant to the FTA Environment Chapter and ECA, which included wide participation from diverse sectors of civil society and business. This reaffirmed both countries’ commitment to maintain an open and participatory process. Both delegations informed the public and press about the advances made under the Environment Chapter of the FTA and advances in environmental cooperation. The public made comments and asked questions.
Finally, the United States and Chile signed the 2012-2014 Work Program for Environmental Cooperation and reaffirmed their commitment to continue working together to preserve and protect the environment through the FTA Environment Chapter and Environmental Cooperation Agreement.