Presentation and final outcomes of Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC, NAFTA), Governing Council, July14, 2015 July


By Magdalena A K Muir, Climate Editor

North America is finally moving forward regionally to cooperate on understanding climate impacts on water, and to have a unified approach to climate adaptation and mitigation for water. From EUCC perspective, it is hoped that future cooperation under CEC can extend to Europe, particularly for shared understanding of the science and relevant approaches to climate impacts, adaptation and mitigation.

The CEC Strategic Plan for 2015 to 2020 describes these shared efforts here, with pdf of plan available here . The new priorities continue to be pressing environmental challenges that require coordinated regional and international response. The Council endorsed a new focus on cross-cutting themes in the strategic priorities, taking into account global, regional and local challenges, emerging issues and common goals, as well as input from our stakeholders. The strategic priorities for the 2015–2020 Strategic Plan are:

  • Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
  • Green Growth
  • Sustainable Communities and Ecosystems

Magdalena Muir orally participated in the July 15th meeting, communicating outcomes and suggestions from a public focus group of Canada and US participants to the Ministers. This  communication will be subsequently available on videotape. but that oral presentation included the following points:

1.      Climate action necessary
2.      Need to focus on vulnerable communities
3.      Sufficient economic resources required
4.      Important how we adapt and connect the climate to social change (i.e., vulnerable populations)
5.      Private investment important, with role of business to innovation + incentivize. Refer to insurance and property value as examples where private investment can play a key role.
6.      Prevention usually considered for symptoms, but does not address and prevent the root cause (in this case, protecting the sources of drinking water)
7.      Important of greater compliance measures combined with public shaming (i.e., public registry of charges and convictions under Canadian Environmental Protection Act and US Toxic Releases Inventory). In so doing, move from raising awareness, to fining, to making breaches, violations and penalties public.
8.     Necessity for an integrated approach to water:
·        Jurisdictional basis where integrated federal- regional- local
·        Integrated from sources to use (mountains/watersheds/groundwater to communities using source)
9.      Consider cost benefit analysis for green infrastructure for water with broad consideration of sustainable economic development; and including indigenous, cultural and spiritual aspects in that valuation
10.  Best practices are very important for groundwater, mountain catchments and river watersheds, where protecting good water at the source and in upstream locations.

Within the Ministerial statement delivered at the meeting, the CEC anounced the following strategic priorities  throughout North America for the next five years are: climate change mitigation and adaptation, green growth, and sustainable communities and ecosystems. The strategic priorities and guiding cross-cutting themes build on more than 20 years of trilateral North American cooperation. In that Ministerial statement, it was noted that with the CEC, action can occur on pressing environmental challenges that require a coordinated regional and international response. In the future, the CEC could also serve as a vehicle for regional cooperation to address the nexus between the climate change and other important issues such as water quantity and quality, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and oceans. See the Ministerial Statement for further information here.

Very importantly and innovatively, the governing Council of the CEC  named a new roster of experts on traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) from Canada, Mexico and the United States. The experts will work with the CEC’s Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) to provide advice to the Council on opportunities to apply TEK to the CEC’s operations and policy recommendations. The TEK roster is the first traditional ecological knowledge panel to be named to an intergovernmental organization such as the CEC. The appointments stem from prior commitments to work effectively with local and indigenous communities across North America to enhance the three countries’ understanding of the environment and make effective environmental management decisions. The initiative also recognizes the importance of preserving the traditional knowledge and practices of local and indigenous communities that help address the effects of climate change, and contribute to the conservation.

CEC’s Strategic Plan for 2015 to 2020

Ministerial Statement

CEC Council names roster of experts on traditional ecological knowledge

Final agenda with links to presentations Video will also shortly be available as well for entire meeting.

Day 1 Tuesday, 14 July 2015

  • 9:00–9:05 Opening and Introductory Remarks by Gustavo Alanís-Ortega, JPAC Chair – Grand Ballroom Salons A,B,C & G
  • 10:00–10:30 Panel I: Stormwater in Cities Moderator: Felicia Marcus, JPAC Member
  • As some cities struggle, during and after extreme weather events, with excess stormwater from rainfall and melted snow, green infrastructure has proven to be an effective and sustainable water management strategy. This session will feature examples and a discussion of municipal-level initiatives that use green infrastructure to reduce property damage and improve water quality and mitigate water pollution and flooding.


  • 13:00–13:30 Panel II: Adapting to Changing Stormwater Quantities through Land-use PlanningModerator: Gustavo Carvajal, JPAC member

    Changes in the timing and intensity of storms has altered the quantity of water from rainfall and melted snow in certain regions of North America. Stormwater runoff has exacerbated mudslides, coastal and riverbank erosion, and flooding. Changes in climate and land use have combined to worsen periodic stormwater flood patterns. Improved stormwater infrastructure and management could help ameliorate this and also address issues of water conservation and sustainable use. Different kinds of green infrastructure, along with better land-use planning, can help us adapt to changing conditions.


  • 15:15–15:35 Update on Submissions on Enforcement Matters Download Presentation
  • 15:35–15:50 Report from the National and Governmental Advisory Committee Representatives
  • 19:00–21:30 Official Opening of the 22nd Regular Session of the CouncilThe Great Hall, Faneuil Hall, 1 Faneuil Hall Square, and Welcoming Reception -Ancient and Honorable Artillery, 4 Faneuil Hall Square (off-site)
    • Introductory remarks by Irasema Coronado, CEC Executive Director
    • Welcoming remarks by local official (tbc)
    • Welcoming remarks and official opening of the XXII Regular Session of the Council by Gina McCarthy, Administrator, US Environmental Protection Agency
    • Remarks by Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s Minister for the Environment
    • Remarks by Rodolfo Lacy Tamayo, Mexico’s Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources
    • Remarks by Gustavo Alanís-Ortega, Chair of the CEC Joint Public Advisory Committee

Day 2, Wednesday, 15 July 2015

  • 9:00–9:30 Presentation by Austin Blackmon, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space, City of Boston – Grand Ballroom Salons A,B,C & G Download Presentation
  • 16:25–16:45 Council Session Closing — Grand Ballroom Salons A,B,C & G
    • Signing of Council Resolution and Ministerial Statement
    • Closing Remarks by Minister Leona Aglukkaq
    • Concluding Remarks and Passing the Torch by AdministratorGina McCarthy
    • New Council Chair and Announcement of 2016 Council Session by Secretary Rodolfo Lacy Tamayo