GAC Response Letter, September 13, 2005
Mr. Stephen M. Mahfood
Chair, Governmental Advisory Committee
7311 North Shore Road
Hartsburg, MO 65039
Dear Mr. Mahfood,
Thank you for the Governmental Advisory Committee's (GAC) May 19, 2005 advice in follow-up to your April 27-29 meeting in Washington, DC. With the GAC's support and guidance, we are committed to constantly improving EPA's oversight of the CEC.
On behalf of Administrator Stephen L. Johnson and the United States, I offer the following response to your advice. We look forward to working with you on these issues this year.
Environmental Capacity Building
We agree with the GAC's recommendations and those of the TRAC 2004 report to better engage the private sector in the work of the CEC, and we see great value in convening high-level meetings with business representatives to develop synergies among existing private sector capacity building efforts. Towards this end, during the 12th Session of the Council of the CEC, we held fruitful discussions with the leaders of business associations. We discussed how the Parties could individually and collectively interest the private sector in taking actions consistent with the CEC 's three pillars.
The Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) also held a public workshop during the 12th Session titled, "Needs and Opportunities for Capacity Building among Private and Non-Profit Sectors" which featured business leaders and not for profit organizations. We are looking forward to receiving JPAC's insights from that meeting.
In addition, the Council adopted Resolution: 05-06: Expanding Partnerships with the Private Sector and other Stakeholders. The Resolution formalized our intention to collaborate with the private sector and other stakeholders, thereby facilitating cooperation and increasing their involvement in the implementation of the CEC's Work Program. A copy of the Resolution is enclosed.
The NAC also recommended that the CEC distribute the Agenda of the Business Roundtable and the presentations made there on disc and/or on-line as well as in hard copy. We have posted the Roundtable presentations at www.epa.gov/ocem/nac/ps/, which is also linked to the CEC website.
We agree with you on the importance of holding capacity building conferences to start the process of engaging the private sector in our capacity building efforts. The United States has recently shared a proposal with the other Parties to hold a series of conferences that will help us to design, plan, and implement partnering relationships with the public and private sectors to engage them in the work of the CEC. The US proposed that one conference be held in each country.
The United States has made outreach to the private sector a priority during our year as Chair of the CEC Council. We are now identifying what specific activities will best encourage, facilitate and transfer currently existing private efforts, as well as identify new ones to engage a broader spectrum of business sectors.
Finally, we will consider your recommendation to develop a compilation of successful environmental capacity building partnerships on the CEC website as part as our capacity building activities.
CEC Program Plan & Ten-Year Review and Assessment Committee
We agree that future CEC work programs should be negotiated and approved more quickly to run the CEC programs efficiently and effectively. The Parties are working on a process that will allow for this to happen in future work plans. We hope to discuss this further with you at the October meeting.
We also support the importance of handing off projects to other qualified organizations and of the CEC acting as a "conveyor belt" for projects. As we note below, this is now a criterion for the Trade and Environment projects. We will carefully consider with the other Parties your recommendation that we develop brief action reports after the hand off of projects to other organizations.
You also recommended that we commit to adopting the TRAC recommendations and work with the other Parties and the Secretariat to implement those that have not been executed. As you know, the TRAC members met with the Council at the 2004 Puebla Session. At that meeting, the Council decided to pursue the spirit of the recommendations and decided further that there was no need for a formal implementation process.
Article 10(6) Working Group
The US is proud of the Article 10(6) Trade and Environment Officials Working Group's progress in bringing together trade and environment officials of the three countries to advance the CEC trade and environment agenda. We are pleased to inform you that, as part of the Trade and Environment Strategic Plan, prepared by the environment and trade officials of the Parties, criteria used to determine the projects/activities to be carried out within the CEC work program included whether "the priority area or activity catalyzes the development of an idea, project, activity or process that others will want to take over after a clearly delineated development period." We consider this criterion to be an important part of developing a successful trade and environment program for the CEC, as you recommended.
Information Sharing and Use of GAC Expertise
We agree that the availability of sufficient staffing is critical to work with internal and external agencies as well as coordinate with and leverage partnerships. OIA has now filled critical staff vacancies dedicated to CEC business. Nevertheless, it is important to note that attendance at meetings is not the only way to judge critical participation of staff in the CEC process. Colleagues from EPA's Office of Cooperative Environmental Management are key participants in OIA's discussions and often act as our eyes and ears at meetings we are unable to attend. We assure you that we will do everything possible to continue interacting constructively with the GAC.
We appreciate the advice of the Governmental Advisory Committee and thank you for the time and effort you give to our work. We look forward to further collaboration with you as we develop and implement the CEC Work Program.
cc: GAC Members