International Cooperation

Capacity-Building Programs Under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR)

The United States signed the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) in August 2004 with five Central American countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) and the Dominican Republic. As a global partner in trade and the environment, Central America and the Dominican Republic represent a priority region for U.S. environmental cooperation. 

Recognizing the importance of protecting the environment while promoting sustainable development, the Governments negotiated an associated Environmental Cooperation Agreement (ECA), which is the basis for our environmental cooperation. EPA implements this ECA through an action plan developed in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of State, and the CAFTA-DR countries. 

Presently, EPA is providing technical assistance under Pathways to Prosperity/CAFTA-DR in the areas of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Wastewater Regulations, Solid Waste Management, Enforcement and Compliance and Enhancing Capacity for Low Emissions Development Strategies (EC-LEDS) in Costa Rica.  

 

Explore our CAFTA-DR work in the following sections: 

Highlights 

August 2013: The action plan for the new Pathways to Prosperity/CAFTA-DR environmental program (2012-2017) was approved by USAID.  Under the new agreement, EPA will continue its environmental collaboration in the areas of: EIA, wastewater and solid waste management, and Enhancing Capacity for Low Emissions Development Strategies (EC-LEDS) in Costa Rica. 

April 2012: EPA, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN), El Salvador Exit; the Central America Commission on Development and Environment (CCAD), Exit USAID and Battelle Institute Exit (Grantee) presented a two day workshop on Air Quality Communication to share experiences, techniques and tools on providing technical data to the general public ina way that is systematic and easy to understand. MARN is expected to launch the first air quality index in the nation and in the region within the next 6-8 months. This activity was part of the urban air quality management program under the CAFTA-DR agreement. 

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Activities

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

The EIA process provides a systematic means to identify the potential negative environmental consequences of specific proposed actions and formulate alternative means to achieve the same purpose with fewer environmental impacts as well as develop effective mitigation or compensatory measures for the negative environmental impacts that are unavoidable. EPA continues to provide EIA technical assistance to the CAFTA-DR countries’ Ministries of Environment and their EIA Directors to  strengthen environmental impact assessment preparation and EIA reviews for effective decision-making. EPA’s assistance is focused on:
 
  • Country-specific and regional reforms through EIA; 
  • Technical assistance for the NEPAssist Geographic Information System-web screening tool;
  • EIA Process Administrative Tracking;
  • Technical Review Guidelines on EIA; and
  • EIA Review Process through recommended regional and country-specific reform agendas.

Wastewater Model Regulation

EPA provides technical assistance to the CAFTA-DR countries in the development of a regional model wastewater regulation, as part of the Harmonization of Environmental Regulations, Policies and Procedures program. 
 
All countries have begun implementation of at least two of 12 basic elements to implement a wastewater management program, and have been provided with tools to establish wastewater discharge parameters for key industrial sectors in the region. 
 
In addition, EPA has trained wastewater labs in the region on ISO 17025 Water Quality Standards, leading to the selection of a regional and four national Reference Labs. EPA is also completing a manual on appropriate wastewater treatment for the region. 
 

Solid Waste Management 

EPA collaboration with the CAFTA-DR countries aims to improve and harmonize environmental regulations, policies, and procedures related to solid waste management practices. Such actions are expected to be accomplished through information exchanges and training, including:

  • courses on sanitary landfill inspection protocol and audits; 
  • development of regulations, policies and procedures for sanitary landfills and solid waste practices;
  • capture and potential use of methane gas as a clean energy source under the objectives of the Global Methane Initiative or contained generation of methane via anaerobic digestion or waste; and 
  • a demonstration project for closing open dumps.
 

EC-LEDS (Enhancing Capacity - For Low Emissions Development Strategies)

EPA’s EC-LEDS assistance to Costa Rica is focused on institutionalizing its greenhouse gas inventory preparation process, with a near-term goal of helping the country prepare its Third National Communication on Climate Change, to be submitted to the UNFCCC in 2014.  The assistance will include support for improved institutional arrangements, quality control/quality assurance procedures, and emissions estimates for several inventory sectors. 

Enforcement and Compliance

The previous CAFTA-DR Program helped strengthen the work of prosecutors and judges through training in some countries as well as through the compilation of legal reference materials. A regional legal compendium was prepared and made available to all environmental prosecutors in each country, together with a national compilation of environmental jurisprudence and a manual on investigation, prosecution and sentencing of environmental crimes.
 
EPA will continue to provide training to ensure existing gaps are addressed.  The capacity assistance is expected to include information exchange and training in areas such as: 
  • Investigation of environmental crimes to strengthen environmental law enforcement, including both men and women in the trainings; and
  • Adjudicating environmental cases to strengthen the judicial response to environmental violations, including both men and women in the training.

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Past Activities

Past EPA efforts in the CAFTA-DR countries have included technical capacity assistance in the following areas: 

  • Harmonization of Environmental Regulations
  • Policies and Procedures (Wastewater) 
  • Environmental Law Enforcement
  • Environmental Management Systems
  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
  • Hazardous Substances and Sound Management of Chemicals
  • Strategic Approach to International Chemical Management (SAICM)
  • Pollutant Release and Transfer Registry (PRTR)
  • Urban Air Quality Management
  • Land Use/Land Cover Mapping
  • Green Customs

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Agreements and Relevant Documents

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Partners

The following links exit the site Exit

US Department of State US Agency for International Development (USAID)
Guatemala Ministry of Environment El Salvador Ministry of Environment
Honduras Ministry of Environment Nicaragua Ministry of Environment
Costa Rica Ministry of Environment Dominican Republic Ministry of Environment
Central America Commission for Environment and Development (CCAD)  

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Learn More About the Western Hemisphere and the Caribbean

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Contacts

For additional information on EPA's work with Latin America and the Caribbean, contact:
Cam Hill-Macon
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of International and Tribal Affairs (2650R)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-6408