CENTRAL AMERICA PROGRAMS
To benefit fully from the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), participating countries are required to improve and effectively enforce their existing environmental laws under Chapter 17 of CAFTA-DR. To this end, USAID helps strengthen public environmental institutions; promotes cleaner production practices and encourages the implementation of environmental management systems by the private sector; and supports the establishment of private sector alliances for the adoption of environmental standards. Additionally, USAID supports biodiversity conservation in all Central American countries through management of critical ecosystems and protection of endangered species and commercially important fish species.
USAID regional environmental protection efforts fall under four different USAID programs: 1) the USAID Environment and Labor Excellence for CAFTA-DR Program 2) the Cooperative Agreement with the Central American Commission on Environment and Development (CCAD) 3) the USAID Regional Program for the Management of Aquatic Resources and Economic Alternatives and 4) the Improved Management of Critical Watersheds Program. The combined effect of all of these interventions is improved environmental compliance by governments and companies in the region, and their increased competitiveness and access to international markets.
Strengthening Compliance with Environmental Obligations – Working closely with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and CCAD, USAID is helping CAFTA-DR countries improve their environmental regulations and standards and compliance of private sector environmental obligations on issues such as hazardous waste and wastewater management. The programs are also working to harmonize environmental claims systems and provide better public access to environmental data and services by improving environmental information systems and the capabilities of citizen service centers.
Improving Private Sector Environmental Performance – USAID is developing voluntary flexible mechanisms and incentives to promote the adoption of clean production and energy efficient technologies and practices by the private sector. The program also aims to increase access to financing for cleaner production and to improve knowledge and public access to clean production, pollution prevention, and energy efficient best practices and technologies.
Creating Partnerships to Advance Environmental Standards – USAID is helping foster partnerships between the public and private sectors in order to further environmental protection in the region. Public-private partnerships promote voluntary environmental standards and create new accreditation and/or certification programs. For example, USAID works with small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) to assist them in compliance with environmental requirements. This process will not only help SMEs continually meet evolving standards, but will also improve their competitiveness.
Improving Cooperation, Capacity Building, and Communication – USAID is working with governments in Central America to consolidate inter-ministerial and inter-institutional coordination across the region, and to develop adequate public outreach for the activities carried out by USAID programs.
Protecting Coastal and Marine Resources – Under its Regional Program for the Management of Aquatic Resources and Economic Alternatives, USAID is working to protect important coastal resources. The focus of the program is to target both fisheries and the conservation of important species. This target represents viable opportunities for piloting the use of rights-based mechanisms
Expected Outcomes. These programs will: