July 5, 2003
FTAA – TRADE NEGOTIATIONS COMMITTEE
A CONCEPT PAPER FOR ADDRESSING ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS
IN THE FTAA CONTEXT
1. At their Seventh Meeting in Quito, Ecuador, on November 1st, 2002,
Ministers of Trade of the Hemisphere reiterated that one of their general
objectives “is to strive to make trade liberalization and environmental
policies in the Americas mutually supportive, taking into account work
undertaken by the World Trade Organization and other international
organizations, and to promote sustainable development in the Hemisphere”
2. They also recognized “the importance of strengthening throughout the
Hemisphere, national actions and cooperation in order to ensure that the
benefits of trade liberalization, the protection of the environment, and
human health are mutually supportive.” 2
3. These statements were made in recognition of our commitment to take
into account, in the FTAA context, “the broad social and economic agenda
contained in the Miami, Santiago and Quebec City Declarations and Plans of
Action with a view to contributing to raising living standards, increasing
employment, improving the working conditions of all people in the
Americas, improving the levels of health and education and better
protecting the environment.” 3 Furthermore, in Miami leaders acknowledged in
their Declaration of Principles that “social progress and economic
prosperity can be sustained only if our people live in a healthy
environment and our ecosystems and natural resources are managed carefully
and responsibly” 4.
4. Canada fully subscribes to these principles and would like to explore
ways to further advance the environmental objectives of the Quito
Declaration and the Summit of the Americas process.
5. One of Canada’s goals as the host of the 2001 Quebec City Summit of the
Americas was to encourage more coherent linkages between economic
integration and environmental policies and to define our hemispheric
environmental priorities. As a result, the Quebec City Plan of Action
provides for significant and comprehensive environmental commitments in
the hemispheric context building on the results of the Summit of the
Americas on Sustainable Development held in Santa Cruz in 1996 and the
Miami Summit in 1994. The Plan of Action includes numerous references to
environmental initiatives and programs, which provide guidance in terms of
the importance of mutually supportive environmental and trade policies,
the importance of the linkages between environment, health and poverty
alleviation, and the need for strong national environmental management
6. These initiatives, including emerging processes such as the Health and
Environment Ministers of the Americas, remain valuable endeavours to be
pursued. However, they do not represent in themselves a comprehensive
response to the environmental goals FTAA participants have set for
themselves in the FTAA context. Canada firmly believes that other options
will need to be explored in order for us to translate our commitment for
mutually supportive trade and environment policies into reality.
II. PURSUING MUTUALLY SUPPORTIVE TRADE AND ENVIRONMENT POLICIES
7. Canada is committed to addressing environmental considerations in the
context of trade liberalization. We believe that economic integration,
coupled with effective environmental policies and management systems, can
have a positive impact on the environment and societies by improving the
efficient allocation of resources, promoting economic growth, and
increasing general standards of living and welfare. In short, we believe
that trade liberalization and environmental protection can, and should be,
8. The 2001 WTO Doha Declaration gave forceful expression to the
importance of mutually supportive policies: “We are convinced that the
aims of upholding and safeguarding an open and non-discriminatory
multilateral trading system, and acting for the protection of the
environment and the promotion of sustainable development can and must be
mutually supportive.”5 The UN Conference on Environment and Development in
Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable
Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg also highlighted this linkage.
Specifically, in the WSSD Plan of Implementation, our Leaders have agreed
to “continue to enhance the mutual supportiveness of trade, environment
and development with a view to achieving sustainable development (…)”
They also emphasized the need to facilitate the implementation of Agenda
21 and the outcome of the Summit “through the regional commissions and
other regional and sub regional institutions and bodies”7 .
9. By working to ensure that economic and environmental policies are
mutually supportive and that sound environmental management systems are in
place, we increase the probability that good environmental decisions will
be made with respect to new investments and expanded commerce, and that
the increased economic activity will be environmentally sustainable over
the longer term.
III. ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION AS A CENTERPIECE OF CANADA’S HEMISPHERIC
10. Mutually supportive policies and rules do not happen automatically. In
addition to being based on a solid understanding of the linkages between
trade and environment, transparency, consultation, cooperation and
coordination both domestically and regionally are required to seek
creative solutions to emerging environmental issues resulting from
increased trade liberalization.
11. Canada has followed a two -pronged approach in its bilateral and
regional trade agreements in the Hemisphere: (1) including preambular
language and environment-related provisions directly affecting trade in
the trade agreement itself (e.g. relationship between MEAs and trade
rules, general exceptions), and (2) pursuing broader environmental
objectives, obligations and capacity-building elements in parallel
environmental cooperation agreements. We have taken this approach in our
FTA negotiations with the United States and Mexico (NAFTA), Chile, Costa
Rica, and the Central American Four (El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala,
Nicaragua). In addition, we have developed a framework for assessing the
likely and significant domestic environmental impacts of trade
negotiations on both the natural environment and on policy-making as a
result of changes in trade rules. These assessments are intended to
improve overall coherence between trade and environment policies at the
12. The design of parallel environmental cooperation agreements provides
greater flexibility for Environment Ministers of the region to devise
strategies directly focused on strengthening environmental protection
measures and managements systems, while building essential bridges with
the trade agreement in areas where trade and environment interface more
13. While we recognize that it is inappropriate to relax environmental
laws in order to encourage trade and investment, Canada does not support
the suspension of trade benefits in response to disputes concerning
enforcement of environmental provisions in FTAs, or in parallel
environmental cooperation agreements.
14. Instead, the focus of our parallel environmental cooperation
agreements has been the promotion of sound environmental management and
mutually supportive environmental and economic policies through a balance
of: 1) domestic environmental obligations aimed at protecting the
environment and promoting sustainable development; 2) sound institutional
mechanisms that facilitate and create incentives for the effective
implementation of environmental laws and policies; and 3) targeted
technical cooperation to strengthen the capacity and integrity of national
environmental management systems.
15. More specifically, the combination of obligations and cooperation
provisions in these agreements have been aimed at fostering high levels of
environmental protection and compliance; effective enforcement of
environmental laws and regulations (while recognizing the right to
discretion in enforcement activities); procedural guarantees, strengthened
environmental cooperation, transparency, accountability and public
participation in the development of environmental laws and policies.
16. It is important to emphasize that, in Canada's experience, parallel
environmental cooperation agreements have not led to disputes between
Parties with respect to enforcement of environmental laws and regulations,
but rather have provided opportunities for cooperation to advance shared
goals with respect to sound environmental management.
17. Cooperation remains the essential focus of these agreements and
materializes in common approaches through government-to-government
collaboration as well as technical assistance and capacity building
initiatives involving non-governmental actors and relevant international
institutions. The agreements cover a wide range of activities including
the sharing of information and best practices as well as policy dialogue
on key trade and environment issues.
IV. BUILDING ON POSITIVE EXPERIENCES
18. The approach taken by Canada has been flexible enough to adapt to the
different realities of our trading partners. Our parallel environmental
cooperation agreements vary in terms of required funding for
implementation, institutional structures and mechanisms to foster citizen
participation and involvement. Variations depend on the volume of trade
between parties (and possible environmental impacts), the degree and
nature of transboundary environmental issues, the Parties' levels of
development, and existing mechanisms for civil society participation.
19. These agreements constitute positive experiences and important points
of reference in our attempt to translate our commitment for mutually
supportive trade and environment policies into meaningful hemispheric
initiatives. They complement other regional and sub-regional experiences
linking trade and environment policies. We believe this is a model that
should be considered in the FTAA context. One option to move the
discussion forward would be to create a negotiating group on environment,
as no formal process yet exists within the FTAA negotiations to discuss
20. We will also remain open to explore mechanisms, including in the
Summit of the Americas process, to foster a dialogue on ways to address
environmental considerations in the context of the FTAA.
Paragraph 7, Ministerial Declaration of Quito, Seventh Meeting of
Ministers of Trade of the Hemisphere, Quito, Ecuador, November 1, 2002.
Ibid., paragraph 8.
Ibid., paragraph 2.
Paragraph 20, Declaration of Principles, First Summit of the Americas,
Miami, Florida, December 9-11, 1994.
Paragraph 6, Ministerial Declaration, WTO Fourth Ministerial Conference,
Doha, Qatar, November 14, 2001.
Paragraph 97, Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable
Development, World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg, South
Africa, August 26-September 4, 2002.
Ibid., paragraph 158.