The Government of the United States of America, the Government of Canada and the Government of the United Mexican States:

CONVINCED of the importance of the conservation, protection and enhancement of the environment in their territories and the essential role of cooperation in these areas in achieving sustainable development for the well-being of present and future generations;

REAFFIRMING the sovereign right of States to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental and development policies and their responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction;

RECOGNIZING the interrelationship of their environments;

ACKNOWLEDGING the growing economic and social links between them, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA);

RECONFIRMING the importance of the environmental goals and objectives of the NAFTA, including enhanced levels of environmental protection;

EMPHASIZING the importance of public participation in conserving, protecting and enhancing the environment;

NOTING the existence of differences in their respective natural endowments, climatic and geographical conditions, and economic, technological and infrastructural capabilities;

REAFFIRMING the Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment of 1972 and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development of 1992;

RECALLING their tradition of environmental cooperation and expressing their desire to support and build on international environmental agreements and existing policies and laws, in order to promote cooperation between them; and

CONVINCED of the benefits to be derived from a framework, including a Commission, to facilitate effective cooperation on the conservation, protection and enhancement of the environment in their territories;



Article 1: Objectives

The objectives of this Agreement are to:

    (a) foster the protection and improvement of the environment in the territories of the Parties for the well-being of present and future generations;

    (b) promote sustainable development based on cooperation and mutually supportive environmental and economic policies;

    (c) increase cooperation between the Parties to better conserve, protect, and enhance the environment, including wild flora and fauna;

    (d) support the environmental goals and objectives of the NAFTA;

    (e) avoid creating trade distortions or new trade barriers;

    (f) strengthen cooperation on the development and improvement of environmental laws, regulations, procedures, policies and practices;

    (g) enhance compliance with, and enforcement of, environmental laws and regulations;

    (h) promote transparency and public participation in the development of environmental laws, regulations and policies;

    (i) promote economically efficient and effective environmental measures; and

    (j) promote pollution prevention policies and practices.


Article 2: General Commitments

1. Each Party shall, with respect to its territory:

    (a) periodically prepare and make publicly available reports on the state of the environment;

    (b) develop and review environmental emergency preparedness measures;

    (c) promote education in environmental matters, including environmental law;

    (d) further scientific research and technology development in respect of environmental matters;

    (e) assess, as appropriate, environmental impacts; and

    (f) promote the use of economic instruments for the efficient achievement of environmental goals.

2. Each Party shall consider implementing in its law any recommendation developed by the Council under Article 10(5)(b).

3. Each Party shall consider prohibiting the export to the territories of the other Parties of a pesticide or toxic substance whose use is prohibited within the Party's territory. When a Party adopts a measure prohibiting or severely restricting the use of a pesticide or toxic substance in its territory, it shall notify the other Parties of the measure, either directly or through an appropriate international organization.

Article 3: Levels of Protection

Recognizing the right of each Party to establish its own levels of domestic environmental protection and environmental development policies and priorities, and to adopt or modify accordingly its environmental laws and regulations, each Party shall ensure that its laws and regulations provide for high levels of environmental protection and shall strive to continue to improve those laws and regulations.

Article 4: Publication

1. Each Party shall ensure that its laws, regulations, procedures and administrative rulings of general application respecting any matter covered by this Agreement are promptly published or otherwise made available in such a manner as to enable interested persons and Parties to become acquainted with them.

2. To the extent possible, each Party shall:

    (a) publish in advance any such measure that it proposes to adopt; and

    (b) provide interested persons and Parties a reasonable opportunity to comment on such proposed measures.

Article 5: Government Enforcement Action

1. With the aim of achieving high levels of environmental protection and compliance with its environmental laws and regulations, each Party shall effectively enforce its environmental laws and regulations through appropriate governmental action, subject to Article 37, such as:

    (a) appointing and training inspectors;

    (b) monitoring compliance and investigating suspected violations, including through on-site inspections;

    (c) seeking assurances of voluntary compliance and compliance agreements;

    (d) publicly releasing non-compliance information;

    (e) issuing bulletins or other periodic statements on enforcement procedures;

    (f) promoting environmental audits;

    (g) requiring record keeping and reporting;

    (h) providing or encouraging mediation and arbitration services;

    (i) using licenses, permits or authorizations;

    (j) initiating, in a timely manner, judicial, quasi- judicial or administrative proceedings to seek appropriate sanctions or remedies for violations of its environmental laws and regulations;

    (k) providing for search, seizure or detention; or

    (l) issuing administrative orders, including orders of a preventative, curative or emergency nature.

2. Each Party shall ensure that judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative enforcement proceedings are available under its law to sanction or remedy violations of its environmental laws and regulations.

3. Sanctions and remedies provided for a violation of a Party's environmental laws and regulations shall, as appropriate:

    (a) take into consideration the nature and gravity of the violation, any economic benefit derived from the violation by the violator, the economic condition of the violator, and other relevant factors; and

    (b) include compliance agreements, fines, imprisonment, injunctions, the closure of facilities, and the cost of containing or cleaning up pollution.

Article 6: Private Access to Remedies

1. Each Party shall ensure that interested persons may request the Party's competent authorities to investigate alleged violations of its environmental laws and regulations and shall give such requests due consideration in accordance with law.

2. Each Party shall ensure that persons with a legally recognized interest under its law in a particular matter have appropriate access to administrative, quasi-judicial or judicial proceedings for the enforcement of the Party's environmental laws and regulations.

3. Private access to remedies shall include rights, in accordance with the Party's law, such as:

    (a) to sue another person under that Party's jurisdiction for damages;

    (b) to seek sanctions or remedies such as monetary penalties, emergency closures or orders to mitigate the consequences of violations of its environmental laws and regulations;

    (c) to request the competent authorities to take appropriate action to enforce that Party's environmental laws and regulations in order to protect the environment or to avoid environmental harm; or

    (d) to seek injunctions where a person suffers, or may suffer, loss, damage or injury as a result of conduct by another person under that Party's jurisdiction contrary to that Party's environmental laws and regulations or from tortious conduct.

Article 7: Procedural Guarantees

1. Each Party shall ensure that its administrative, quasi-judicial and judicial proceedings referred to in Articles 5(2) and 6(2) are fair, open and equitable, and to this end shall provide that such proceedings:

    (a) comply with due process of law;

    (b) are open to the public, except where the administration of justice otherwise requires;

    (c) entitle the parties to the proceedings to support or defend their respective positions and to present information or evidence; and

    (d) are not unnecessarily complicated and do not entail unreasonable charges or time limits or unwarranted delays.

2. Each Party shall provide that final decisions on the merits of the case in such proceedings are:

    (a) in writing and preferably state the reasons on which the decisions are based;

    (b) made available without undue delay to the parties to the proceedings and, consistent with its law, to the public; and

    (c) based on information or evidence in respect of which the parties were offered the opportunity to be heard.

3. Each Party shall provide, as appropriate, that parties to such proceedings have the right, in accordance with its law, to seek review and, where warranted, correction of final decisions issued in such proceedings.

4. Each Party shall ensure that tribunals that conduct or review such proceedings are impartial and independent and do not have any substantial interest in the outcome of the matter.


Article 8: The Commission

1. The Parties hereby establish the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.

2. The Commission shall comprise a Council, a Secretariat and a Joint Public Advisory Committee.

Section A: The Council

Article 9: Council Structure and Procedures

1. The Council shall comprise cabinet-level or equivalent representatives of the Parties, or their designees.

2. The Council shall establish its rules and procedures.

3. The Council shall convene:

    (a) at least once a year in regular session; and

    (b) in special session at the request of any Party.

Regular sessions shall be chaired successively by each Party.

4. The Council shall hold public meetings in the course of all regular sessions. Other meetings held in the course of regular or special sessions shall be public where the Council so decides.

5. The Council may:

    (a) establish, and assign responsibilities to, ad hoc or standing committees, working groups or expert groups;

    (b) seek the advice of non-governmental organizations or persons, including independent experts; and

    (c) take such other action in the exercise of its functions as the Parties may agree.

6. All decisions and recommendations of the Council shall be taken by consensus, except as the Council may otherwise decide or as otherwise provided in this Agreement.

7. All decisions and recommendations of the Council shall be made public, except as the Council may otherwise decide or as otherwise provided in this Agreement.

Article 10: Council Functions

1. The Council shall be the governing body of the Commission and shall:

    (a) serve as a forum for the discussion of environmental matters within the scope of this Agreement;

    (b) oversee the implementation and develop recommendations on the further elaboration of this Agreement and, to this end, the Council shall, within four years after the date of entry into force of this Agreement, review its operation and effectiveness in the light of experience;

    (c) oversee the Secretariat;

    (d) address questions and differences that may arise between the Parties regarding the interpretation or application of this Agreement;

    (e) approve the annual program and budget of the Commission; and

    (f) promote and facilitate cooperation between the Parties with respect to environmental matters.

2. The Council may consider, and develop recommendations regarding:

    (a) comparability of techniques and methodologies for data gathering and analysis, data management and electronic data communications on matters covered by this Agreement;

    (b) pollution prevention techniques and strategies;

    (c) approaches and common indicators for reporting on the state of the environment;

    (d) the use of economic instruments for the pursuit of domestic and internationally agreed environmental objectives;

    (e) scientific research and technology development in respect of environmental matters;

    (f) promotion of public awareness regarding the environment;

    (g) transboundary and border environmental issues, such as the long-range transport of air and marine pollutants;

    (h) exotic species that may be harmful;

    (i) the conservation and protection of wild flora and fauna and their habitat, and specially protected natural areas;

    (j) the protection of endangered and threatened species;

    (k) environmental emergency preparedness and response activities;

    (l) environmental matters as they relate to economic development;

    (m) the environmental implications of goods throughout their life cycles;

    (n) human resource training and development in the environmental field;

    (o) the exchange of environmental scientists and officials;

    (p) approaches to environmental compliance and enforcement;

    (q) ecologically sensitive national accounts;

    (r) eco-labelling; and

    (s) other matters as it may decide.

3. The Council shall strengthen cooperation on the development and continuing improvement of environmental laws and regulations, including by:

    (a) promoting the exchange of information on criteria and methodologies used in establishing domestic environmental standards; and

    (b) without reducing levels of environmental protection, establishing a process for developing recommendations on greater compatibility of environmental technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures in a manner consistent with the NAFTA.

4. The Council shall encourage:

    (a) effective enforcement by each Party of its environmental laws and regulations;

    (b) compliance with those laws and regulations; and

    (c) technical cooperation between the Parties.

5. The Council shall promote and, as appropriate, develop recommendations regarding:

    (a) public access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities of each Party, including information on hazardous materials and activities in its communities, and opportunity to participate in decision-making processes related to such public access; and

    (b) appropriate limits for specific pollutants, taking into account differences in ecosystems.

6. The Council shall cooperate with the NAFTA Free Trade Commission to achieve the environmental goals and objectives of the NAFTA by:

    (a) acting as a point of inquiry and receipt for comments from non-governmental organizations and persons concerning those goals and objectives;

    (b) providing assistance in consultations under Article 1114 of the NAFTA where a Party considers that another Party is waiving or derogating from, or offering to waive or otherwise derogate from, an environmental measure as an encouragement to establish, acquire, expand or retain an investment of an investor, with a view to avoiding any such encouragement;

    (c) contributing to the prevention or resolution of environment-related trade disputes by:

      (i) seeking to avoid disputes between the Parties,

      (ii) making recommendations to the Free Trade Commission with respect to the avoidance of such disputes, and

      (iii) identifying experts able to provide information or technical advice to NAFTA committees, working groups and other NAFTA bodies;

    (d) considering on an ongoing basis the environmental effects of the NAFTA; and

    (e) otherwise assisting the Free Trade Commission in environment-related matters.

7. Recognizing the significant bilateral nature of many transboundary environmental issues, the Council shall, with a view to agreement between the Parties pursuant to this Article within three years on obligations, consider and develop recommendations with respect to:

    (a) assessing the environmental impact of proposed projects subject to decisions by a competent government authority and likely to cause significant adverse transboundary effects, including a full evaluation of comments provided by other Parties and persons of other Parties;

    (b) notification, provision of relevant information and consultation between Parties with respect to such projects; and

    (c) mitigation of the potential adverse effects of such projects.

8. The Council shall encourage the establishment by each Party of appropriate administrative procedures pursuant to its environmental laws to permit another Party to seek the reduction, elimination or mitigation of transboundary pollution on a reciprocal basis.

9. The Council shall consider and, as appropriate, develop recommendations on the provision by a Party, on a reciprocal basis, of access to and rights and remedies before its courts and administrative agencies for persons in another Party's territory who have suffered or are likely to suffer damage or injury caused by pollution originating in its territory as if the damage or injury were suffered in its territory.

Section B: The Secretariat

Article 11: Secretariat Structure and Procedures

1. The Secretariat shall be headed by an Executive Director, who shall be chosen by the Council for a three-year term, which may be renewed by the Council for one additional three-year term. The position of Executive Director shall rotate consecutively between nationals of each Party. The Council may remove the Executive Director solely for cause.

2. The Executive Director shall appoint and supervise the staff of the Secretariat, regulate their powers and duties and fix their remuneration in accordance with general standards to be established by the Council. The general standards shall provide that:

    (a) staff shall be appointed and retained, and their conditions of employment shall be determined, strictly on the basis of efficiency, competence and integrity;

    (b) in appointing staff, the Executive Director shall take into account lists of candidates prepared by the Parties and by the Joint Public Advisory Committee;

    (c) due regard shall be paid to the importance of recruiting an equitable proportion of the professional staff from among the nationals of each Party; and

    (d) the Executive Director shall inform the Council of all appointments.

3. The Council may decide, by a two-thirds vote, to reject any appointment that does not meet the general standards. Any such decision shall be made and held in confidence.

4. In the performance of their duties, the Executive Director and the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any government or any other authority external to the Council. Each Party shall respect the international character of the responsibilities of the Executive Director and the staff and shall not seek to influence them in the discharge of their responsibilities.

5. The Secretariat shall provide technical, administrative and operational support to the Council and to committees and groups established by the Council, and such other support as the Council may direct.

6. The Executive Director shall submit for the approval of the Council the annual program and budget of the Commission, including provision for proposed cooperative activities and for the Secretariat to respond to contingencies.

7. The Secretariat shall, as appropriate, provide the Parties and the public information on where they may receive technical advice and expertise with respect to environmental matters.

8. The Secretariat shall safeguard:

    (a) from disclosure information it receives that could identify a non-governmental organization or person making a submission if the person or organization so requests or the Secretariat otherwise considers it appropriate; and

    (b) from public disclosure any information it receives from any non-governmental organization or person where the information is designated by that non-governmental organization or person as confidential or proprietary.

Article 12: Annual Report of the Commission

1. The Secretariat shall prepare an annual report of the Commission in accordance with instructions from the Council. The Secretariat shall submit a draft of the report for review by the Council. The final report shall be released publicly.

2. The report shall cover:

    (a) activities and expenses of the Commission during the previous year;

    (b) the approved program and budget of the Commission for the subsequent year;

    (c) the actions taken by each Party in connection with its obligations under this Agreement, including data on the Party's environmental enforcement activities;

    (d) relevant views and information submitted by non- governmental organizations and persons, including summary data regarding submissions, and any other relevant information the Council deems appropriate;

    (e) recommendations made on any matter within the scope of this Agreement; and

    (f) any other matter that the Council instructs the Secretariat to include.

3. The report shall periodically address the state of the environment in the territories of the Parties.

Article 13: Secretariat Reports

1. The Secretariat may prepare a report for the Council on any matter within the scope of the annual program. Should the Secretariat wish to prepare a report on any other environmental matter related to the cooperative functions of this Agreement, it shall notify the Council and may proceed unless, within 30 days of such notification, the Council objects by a two-thirds vote to the preparation of the report. Such other environmental matters shall not include issues related to whether a Party has failed to enforce its environmental laws and regulations. Where the Secretariat does not have specific expertise in the matter under review, it shall obtain the assistance of one or more independent experts of recognized experience in the matter to assist in the preparation of the report.

2. In preparing such a report, the Secretariat may draw upon any relevant technical, scientific or other information, including information:

    (a) that is publicly available;

    (b) submitted by interested non-governmental organizations and persons;

    (c) submitted by the Joint Public Advisory Committee;

    (d) furnished by a Party;

    (e) gathered through public consultations, such as conferences, seminars and symposia; or

    (f) developed by the Secretariat, or by independent experts engaged pursuant to paragraph 1.

3. The Secretariat shall submit its report to the Council, which shall make it publicly available, normally within 60 days following its submission, unless the Council otherwise decides.

Continue on to Article 14: Submissions on Enforcement Matters