International Cooperation

CEC Council Sessions

CEC Council Ministers SEMARNAT Secretary Juan Jose Guerra Abud, Environment Canada Minister Leona Aglukaqq, and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy discuss working collaboratively to mitigate climate change and protect the environment in North America.

Each year, the North American Ministers to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation meet at least once for the CEC Council Session to set the CEC’s overall direction, including budget, and activities pursued through the cooperative work plan.  As needed, the Ministers assign responsibilities to the committees, workgroups, and expert trilateral groups to fulfill the mandate. At the close of each meeting, the Ministers deliver a Ministerial Statement outlining their strategy and vision for the coming year.  

Explore recent Council Sessions and results below.


2014: CEC's 21st Annual Council Session

On July 17, 2014, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy led the U.S. delegation to the 21st Annual CEC Council Session Exitof the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) Exit in Yellowknife, NWT, Canada, for a two-day dialogue that reflected on 20 years of trilateral accomplishments and a renewed focus on ensuring that trade and economic growth would go hand-in-hand with protection of the environment in North America. The Annual Council Session coincided with a public meeting hosted by the Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) on Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and the important role TEK can play in recognizing, mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Strategic Priorities and Cross-Cutting Themes for 2015-2020

 

 
Participants at the 21st Annual Council are treated to a performance by the Dene nation drummers.
 
Attendees to the session represented all sectors and featured an interactive townhall webcast with two-way video conference hubs in locations across North America.
Building on 20 years of experience and success, the Council presented three priority areas for the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan:
  • Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
  • Green Growth
  • Sustainable Communities and Ecosystems
Cooperation initiatives, projects, and actions under these priorities will be guided by three important cross-cutting themes:
  • Learning from and assisting vulnerable groups and local and indigenous communities
  • Enhancing the alignment of environmental standards and regulations, enforcement, and compliance to promote environmental protection and facilitate trade in North America
  • Enhancing information sharing, transparency, capacity building, and communication

 

Submissions on Enforcement Matters

As part of a continued commitment to transparency and the Submission on Enforcement Matters (SEM) modernization process, the Council implemented a new reporting approach where each country provided an update on actions taken in connection with submissions concluded in the past year. The Parties reported on the Quebec Automobiles and Protection of Polar Bears for Canada, Coal-fired Power Plants for the United States, and Lake Chapala II for Mexico.
 
 
Town Hall
In the final session, Council Ministers opened up during a North America town hall questions and comments from across the continent on the incorporation of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) into environmental decision-making. 
The North American Ministers display the signed Council Ministerial Statement for 2014.
 
The dialogue was a rare opportunity for a real-time, two-way exchange between members of the public and the top environmental officials for North America. In addition to questions from the live audience, comments came from participants attending video conference hubs and webcasts in Anchorage, Edmonton, Flathead Indian Reservation, Montreal, Mexico City, Vancouver and Washington, DC.
 

Ministerial Statement

The 2014 Session closed with the signing of the Ministerial Statement Exitand the passing of the CEC Council Chair from Canada to the United States. The United States announced it will host the 21st Annual CEC Council Session in 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. 

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2013: CEC's 20th Annual Council Session

On July 10, 2013, Acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe led the U.S. delegation to the 20th Annual CEC Council Session of the North Amercian Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) Exit in Los Cabos, Mexico, for a two-day dialogue on how to reduce the impact of trade on the environment in North America.
 
The 2013 Council Session featured presentations from members of the public, industry leaders in the trucking and transportation sector, and representatives from environmental NGOs. The two-day meeting culmintated with a North American town hall where the Council Ministers fielded questions and comments from across the continent on the issues of the day.
 

At the session, the Council presented the 2013-2014 Operational Plan (PDF) Exit  to the public and acknowledged the success achieved through the 2011-2012 Operational Plan. The 2013-2014 Operational Plan outlines cooperative work to address the strategic priorities of the Council:

promoting healthy communities and ecosystems;
addressing climate change by moving to a low-carbon economy; and
working with partners in the private sector togreen North America’s economy.
 
The North American Ministers sign the Council Ministerial Statement for 2013.
Also as part of the cooperative workplan, the parties announced the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the 2013-2014 North American Partnership for Environmental Communicty Action (NAPECA) community grantsExit the second round of funding under the NAPECA.
 
Fulfilling the Council's commitment last year to modernize the Submissions for Enforcement Matters (SEM) process, the CEC launched the SEM web portal,Exit a website desinged to enable citizens in North America easier and access to the citizen submission process.
 
The Annual Council Session coincided with a public meeting hosted by the Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) on
  • how to more sustainably transport goods across borders,
  • how to reduce the impact of transportation, and
  • the technological innovations being developed across North America to address these issues.
Participants at the 20th Annual Council represented all sectors and featured an interactive townhall webcast to hubs across North America.
In the final session, Council Ministers sat down for an unscripted town hall moderated by David Angus, the chair of the Joint Public Advisory Committee. The dialogue was a rare opportunity for a real-time, two-way exchange between members of the public and the top environmental officials for North America. In addition to questions from the live audience, comments came from participants attending webcast hubs in Montreal, Vancouver, Mexico City and Washington, DC.
 
The 2013 Session closed with the signing of the Ministerial Statement Exit and the passing of the CEC Council Chair to Canada from Mexico. Canada will host the 2014 Council Session, which will mark the 20th Anniversary of the North American Agreement for Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC) and the North Amercian Free Trade Agreement. 
 
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2012: CEC's 19th Annual Council Session

On July 11, 2012, at the 19th Annual Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) Council Session, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson hosted the Secretary of Environment for Mexico Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada and Minister Peter Kent of Canada, in her home town of New Orleans, Louisiana.
 
The CEC is a trilateral partnership between the U.S., Canada and Mexico that fosters conservation, protection and enhancement of the North American environment to increase economic, trade and social links among the three countries. The working portions of the Session took place at the New Orleans InterContinental Hotel. Representatives from across the North America gathered to discuss the primary theme of the conference: Ecosystem and Community Resiliency.
 

Outcomes of the Council Session

At the Council Session, the Ministers approved the 2012 Ministerial StatementExit reinforcing the accomplishments of our collective work, as well as the challenges we face as a region.
 
Another key outcome of the Council Session was the adoption of revised guidelines and follow-up on the Submissions on Enforcement Matters (SEM) processExit Through the adoption of these revised guidelines, the Ministers have renewed their commitment to improve the timeliness, clarity, transparency, and accessibility of the SEM process.
 
In addition, as part of an ongoing discussion on Greening the Economy in North America, the Ministers received a report from the Panel of Experts on the Environmental Assessment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and held a follow-up discussion on domestic initiatives being taken by each country to advance a green economy.
 

Public Participation at the Council Session

The ministers respond to public comments at the Council Session.
Addressing environmental problems across the three countries of North America can only be accomplished by partnering closely with stakeholders and engaging directly with the public. To implement this priority, the Council introduced a new Project Expo to this year’s Council Session, along with a revised format for improving engagement between the public and the Ministers.
The Project Expo featured booths and exhibits by a number of North American Partnership for Environmental Community Action (NAPECA) grant recipients and other project partners. Attendees were able to learn about projects and program activities and provide input to project managers. NAPECA grants provide support a diverse set of projects by led by broad base of hands-on groups and organizations.
 
During the public portion of the Council Session, the ministers expanded the dialogue with the public, by including questions and presentations delivered via e-mail, social media, and webcast participants. The ministers heard remarks from a number of experts, academics and members of the public on the themes of Healthy Communities and Ecosystems and Community and Ecosystem Resilience. Presentations focused on the following:
Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson talks to members of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, a NAPECA grantee, about air quality monitoring initiatives at the Public Expo.
 
  • Reducing exposure to airborne contaminants in the homes of indigenous communities in Alaska
  • Promoting and implementing measures to limit harmful environmental exposures in communities surrounding Lake Chapala in Mexico
  • Facilitating action to address climate change adaptation needs in indigenous communities in Canada and the United States
  • Responding to ecological disasters in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill
The Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC)Exit which serves to ensure active public participation in the CEC’s endeavors, hosted two days of public workshops that complemented the Council Session by exploring ways to protect and strengthen vulnerable ecosystems, and how to bolster the resiliency of affected communities. Local academics, members of interested associations and NGOs, government officials, and local residents participated in the JPAC public sessions.
 

Preparing for the Coming Year

At the close of the 19th Council Session, leadership of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) was passed from U.S. to the Government of Mexico, who will serve as Chair of the Council through July 2013.
 
The CEC's cooperative work program for 2012-13 lays out a coherent plan to address the Council’s main priorities—promoting healthy communities and ecosystems; addressing climate change by moving towards a low-carbon economy; and working with partners in the private sector to green North America’s economy—with strategic objectives that will produce results and direct environmental benefits at the community, indigenous, local and regional levels.
 

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2011: NAPECA grant program launched at 18th CEC Council Session

Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson speaks at the 2011 Council Session.
On June 22, 2011, at the 18th annual Council Session in Montreal, Canada, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson assumed leadership of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC).
 
The CEC’s 2011-2012 Operational Plan will be implemented with a new definition for trilateralism – finding common ground in community-level environmental solutions for North America.  In addition, the CEC has created a new, $1.4 million fund (North American Partnership for Environmental Community Action, NAPECA)  to support grants over the next two years to support communities in their efforts to locally address environmental problems across North America. This work at the community level is an integral part of delivering on our trilateral priorities and objectives.
 

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2010: Five Year Strategic Plan Signed at 17th CEC Council Session 

Former EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Environment Minister of Canada, the Honorable Jim Prentice, and Secretary for Environment from Mexico, Mr. Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada in Guanajuato, Mexico, sign resolutions at the Council Session of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC).
On August 17, 2010, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson joined the Environment Minister of Canada and the Secretary for Environment from Mexico at the 17th annual Council Session of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The Parties agreed to a Strategic Plan for 2010–2015 includes three thematic priorities:
 
  • Healthy Communities and Ecosystems - improve the environmental health of children and other vulnerable communities, increasing the resilience of North America’s shared ecosystems, and enhancing environmental and wildlife enforcement and the continental management of chemicals of concern.
  • Climate ChangeLow-Carbon Economy - improve the comparability of our greenhouse gas emissions data gathering, methodologies, and inventories, and building stronger networks of experts and systems to share climate change information.
  • Greening the Economy in North America - work with partners in the private sector to improve the environmental performance of small- and medium-sized enterprises in areas such as state-of-the-art green building design, and the movement of used electronics and other e-waste streams within our borders and beyond.
The North American environment ministers also agreed on the development of a new grant program, the North American Partnership for Environmental Community Action (NAPECA).  Grants will build partnerships to help improve environmental conditions at the community, local and regional levels.
 

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2009: New Policy Direction at 16th Annual CEC Council Session

The three Environment Ministers of North America answer the concerns of citizens at the Public Session of the 2009 Council Session.
On June 24, 2009 in Denver, Colorado, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson met with the environment ministers of Canada and Mexico at the 16th annual Council Session of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC).  
 
Recognizing 15 years of North American environmental collaboration through the CEC, Canada, Mexico, and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to tackle shared environmental problems, in partnership with stakeholders and the public in all three countries.  The Council Session initiated a new policy direction with the Strategic Plan 2010-15 focused on 3 pillars of work: Healthy Communities and Ecosystems, Climate Change – Low-Carbon Economy, and Greening the Economy in North America.
 

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Contacts

For additional information on EPA's work with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, contact:
Sylvia Correa
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of International and Tribal Affairs (2650R)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-6443