On March 7 in Manama, Bahrain, senior officials from the governments of the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United States of America held the inaugural meetings of the Subcommittee on Environmental Affairs (Subcommittee) under the United States-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the Joint Forum on Environmental Cooperation (Joint Forum) under the United States-Bahrain Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Cooperation (MOU). The MOU was negotiated in parallel with the FTA, and recognizes the importance of strengthening capacity to protect the environment while promoting sustainable development in concert with expanded bilateral trade under the FTA.
The meetings serve as an important opportunity to enhance the bilateral relationship between the United States and Bahrain and to highlight a shared commitment to environmental protection and the sustainable use of natural resources.
During the meeting of the Subcommittee the officials from Bahrain and the United States reviewed progress in implementing the FTA Environment Chapter commitments, including in areas such as improving air quality, combatting wildlife trafficking, and promoting marine conservation. The officials also reaffirmed their commitment to enhance the mutual supportiveness of trade and environmental protection through continued implementation of the U.S.-Bahrain FTA Environment Chapter and the MOU.
The mandate of the Joint Forum is to work cooperatively to enhance environmental protection in Bahrain, including through the development and implementation of science-based standards for the protection of the environment and human health, and through the promotion of sustainable development. Officials discussed areas of potential cooperation under the 2017-2021 Plan of Action that prioritizes: (1) Developing projects and programs to improve air quality and reduce the adverse health impacts of air pollution; (2) Protecting coastal environmental zones and preventing overexploitation of marine resources; (3) Strengthening the capacity to protect endangered species; and (4) Promoting the growth of the environmental technology business sector.
During a public session, officials of the two countries met with representatives from civil society and the private sector. The governments reported on the outcomes of their bilateral meetings, answered questions, and invited public input regarding potential cooperative activities that might be prioritized under the new Plan of Action and through implementation of the Environment Chapter.
Bahrain’s delegation included representatives from the Supreme Council for the Environment; Office of the First Deputy Prime Minister; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Industry and Commerce; and Economic Development Board. The United States delegation included officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State; U.S. Embassy Manama; U.S. Forest Service; and the U.S. Department of the Interior.