On December 18 and 19, 2013, the Governments of the United States and Colombia held the first meetings of the Environmental Affairs Council and the Environmental Cooperation Commission, in Washington.
Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs at the Department of State, and Jennifer Prescott, Assistant United States Trade Representative for Environment and Natural Resources, led the U.S. delegation. Colombia was represented by Dr. Pablo Vieira Samper, Vice Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Dr. Luis Felipe Quintero, Director of Trade Relations, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism, and Ambassador to the United States Luis Carlos Villegas.
The United States and Colombia share a strong history of collaboration on environmental issues and a desire to build upon that foundation through trade-related environmental cooperation. The Environmental Affairs Council (EAC) and the Environmental Cooperation Commission (ECC) were created through the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Environment Chapter and the associated U.S.-Colombia Environmental Cooperation Agreement, respectively.
Representatives discussed progress to implement the Environment Chapter and approved a Work Program for 2014-2017 outlining priority areas for work to be undertaken. The Work Program covers the following themes: strengthening implementation and enforcement of our environmental laws and regulations; promoting sustainable management of environmental resources; encouraging low emissions development and the adoption of sound environmental practices and technologies; and promoting environmental education and transparency. It also calls for public participation in environmental decision-making and enforcement. To that end, the meetings culminated in a public session where meeting discussions were reported and questions taken.