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COMMISSION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION

THREE COUNTRIES WORKING TOGETHER TO PROTECT OUR SHARED ENVIRONMENT


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North American Regional Action Plan on Mercury
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Preface

This North American Regional Action Plan (NARAP) is one of a number of such regional undertakings that stem from the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation between the governments of Canada, the United Mexican States and the United States of America. The Agreement established the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) to "facilitate cooperation on the conservation, protection and enhancement of the environment in their territories."

The Council (of Ministers) of the Commission agreed to Resolution #95–5 on the Sound Management of Chemicals on 13 October 1995 at its second regular meeting held in Oaxaca, Mexico. The Resolution established "a working group comprised of two senior officials selected by each Party whose duties pertain to the regulation or management of toxic substances and who shall work with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) to implement the decisions and commitments set out in this Resolution."

The Resolution specifically calls for the development of regional action plans for selected persistent and toxic substances as a first priority in the Parties' common desire to address national and regional concerns associated with the sound management of chemicals.

The action plans developed under the Resolution reflect a shared commitment by the Parties to work cooperatively by building upon international environmental agreements and existing policies and laws; by bringing a regional perspective to international initiatives that are in place or being negotiated with respect to persistent toxic substances; by promoting cooperation with Latin American and Caribbean nations and with countries that have territories in the high Arctic; and by encouraging mutually consistent trade and environment policies that are conducive to the conservation, protection and enhancement of the environment in their territories.

At the same time, each action plan is unique and reflects the differentiated responsibilities of each of the countries, consistent with their respective production, use, and disposal practices for the particular substance. The Resolution and the action plans arising from it also take into account each country's respective natural endowments, climate and geographical conditions, and economic, technological and infrastructure capabilities.

An important dimension as regards development and implementation of the action plans is development of close working relationships among the intergovernmental bodies that address persistent and toxic substances in the three countries.

As well, the North American Working Group on the Sound Management of Chemicals will work closely during the implementation of the plans with another CEC working group, the North American Working Group on Environmental Enforcement and Compliance Cooperation.

In addition, when action plans are proposed on substances used as pesticides, cooperative arrangements will be developed and maintained with the Technical Working Group on Pesticides established under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The action plans reflect a long-term commitment to regional action. The sharing and transfer of information and best practices are seen as an important means of enhancing national capacity for the sound management of chemicals.

Other important elements and outcomes of these cooperative initiatives include collaboration and cooperation in the measurement, monitoring, modeling, research and assessment of selected persistent and toxic substances in environmental media. Such cooperation will improve the quality, availability and relevance of the "environmental information" needed to make informed and responsible decisions throughout the implementation of the action plans.

These action plans are also intended to help facilitate the meaningful participation of the public, including nongovernmental organizations; business and industry; provincial, state and municipal governments; academia; and technical and policy experts, in accordance with the spirit of cooperation and guidance reflected in the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation and in Council Resolution #95–5 on the Sound Management of Chemicals. Regular public reporting of the progress that has occurred with respect to each action plan will be important to its eventual success.

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