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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2006 > September
Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 28, 2006

CAFTA-DR Labor and Environment Projects

The overall U.S. 2005-2006 commitment of nearly $60 million will promote economic growth in the region and help ensure that a broad spectrum of the societies of member countries realize the benefits of free trade.

Support for Labor-Related activities

The 2005-funded assistance was designed, through multiple-year programs, to build capacity within the Ministries of Labor to provide for more effective enforcement of labor laws. The labor projects to be funded with 2006 resources reflect current needs according to priorities originally identified by CAFTA-DR Trade and Labor Ministers.

2006 Labor Projects

Professionalization of the Labor Inspectorate will support the implementation of professional civil service reforms within the Ministries of Labor, to improve the recruitment and retention of qualified, experienced professional staff.

Benchmarking and Verification projects will be implemented by the ILO to develop benchmarks and assessments to measure and evaluate the progress by CAFTA-DR countries in improving the implementation of national labor laws consistent with internationally recognized labor standards.

Outreach in the Agricultural Sector responds to the need to improve the effective application of labor laws in the agricultural sector. Recognizing the geographic and specialized area that the agricultural sector represents, this project will work with local rural organizations and in coordination with Ministries of Labor, to educate workers and employers about the labor laws and concerns most pertinent to the agricultural sector.

Worker Support Centers will enhance or establish advocates for worker rights who can further assist workers and employers on effective compliance with labor laws. The project will work with local organizations, and in coordination with Ministries of Labor to provide workers with legal services and information about how to exercise their rights in the workplace and how and when to file complaints properly with the Ministry of Labor.

Administration of Labor Justice projects will strengthen the administration of labor justice, and build on U.S. Government activities using FY2005 funds to focus on implementing labor court case tracking, case management, and jurisprudence management systems and raising professional standards in the judiciary. Efforts using FY2006 funds will address improvements in conciliation/mediation, procedural reforms, training in the results of those reforms, and work on small claims systems within the court system, with selected court infrastructure improvements related to these initiatives.

Private Labor Standards Projects with a Focus on Gender and Discrimination will expand work in textiles and apparel (which hire a large proportion of female employees) as well as other sectors to reach a broad audience of firms in the CAFTA-DR region to promote understanding of the link between productivity and competitiveness, international labor standards and national labor laws, workplace codes of conduct, and workplace conflict resolution mechanisms, and implement corresponding changes in the workplace.

Promote a Culture of Compliance with Labor Laws projects will broaden the understanding of, and commitment to, compliance from all key actors through developing best practices in employer and worker organizations. The projects will focus on educating workers and employers on exercising their rights under the rule of law, help implement best practices for conflict resolution in the workplace, and develop labor law experts and professional staff within worker organizations. They will also strengthen industry-level interest in, and capacity to, follow national labor law and international labor standards and, in the process, to improve national economic competitiveness by integrating corporate social responsibility more successfully into the policies and practices of key industries.

Support for Environment-Related activities

Activities with FY2005 funds are currently underway to build capacity to improve environmental laws, protected areas, and fisheries enforcement and wildlife management capacity and to strengthen compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). Funding assistance also went to support the formation of the CAFTA-DR Secretariat for Environmental Matters, which will receive and evaluate citizen complaints on environmental enforcement matters in CAFTA-DR countries

The FY2006-funded assistance builds on these areas, seeking to address a broad array of priorities set forth in the Environmental Cooperation Agreement (ECA) work plan negotiated among all the CAFTA-DR parties in 2005. The primary focus of the 2006 funding will be to further enhance the capacities of member states to adopt a more effective and accountable approach in enforcing environmental laws.

2006 Environmental Projects:

Institutional Strengthening for Effective Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Laws: Projects will seek to improve and harmonize environmental regulations, policies and procedures in the region and strengthen the capacity of CAFTA-DR countries to more effectively enforce their environmental laws. Projects will focus on improving government capacity to adopt a full range of environmental enforcement strategies and procedures, conduct environmental impact assessment reviews, monitor and improve air quality, safely handle hazardous substances, and begin to develop national pollution release and transfer registries (PRTR). Projects will promote compliance assistance, auditing and the adoption of environmental management systems among the private sector, helping to foster a climate of environmental stewardship and accountability. Funding will help expand NASA’s satellite and web-based Regional Visualization and Monitoring System (SERVIR) to the Dominican Republic and incorporate more environmental data into the system. Assistance will also be provided to CAFTA-DR countries to adopt or improve environmental public complaint units and increase public access to environmental information and participation in environmental decision-making.

Biodiversity and conservation projects focus on the protection and conservation of wildlife, through enhanced compliance with CITES and the development of animal rehabilitation and rescue centers. Projects will work with governments and the private sector to improve fisheries management to reduce sea turtle by-catch and promote the sustainable management of small-scale fisheries and coral reefs in the CAFTA-DR region. Funding will support the National Invasive Species Council to begin addressing trade-related aquatic invasive species pathways in the region. In addition, technical assistance will be provided to improve law enforcement and the use of incentives and cooperative conservation methods in transborder protected areas in the Meso-American Biological Corridor and areas inhabited by jaguars.

Market-based conservation: Recognizing the importance of sustainable tourism and alternative livelihoods within and outside of protected areas in the region, projects will promote market-based conservation programs that will help improve natural resources management through sustainable tourism and the use of sustainable agriculture and forest products.

Private-sector environmental performance projects will strengthen industrial competitiveness and compliance through partnerships with the private sector to increase the use of cleaner production technologies and international best practices. These projects will also focus on mobilizing financing for cleaner production and energy efficiency and conservation.

CAFTA-DR specific obligations: The Secretariat for Environmental Matters will receive support to handle and investigate citizen submissions on environmental enforcement matters in CAFTA-DR countries. Funding and support will also be provided to address additional priorities established by the Environmental Cooperation Commission, the entity that oversees the Environmental Cooperation Agreement (ECA) and its work plan, and will support the independent monitoring and evaluation of ECA environmental cooperation activities.


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