El Salvador, the environment and CAFTA
Yesterday I quoted from the findings of the Congressional Research Service report on CAFTA which dealt with labor protections in El Salvador. Here is the section on environmental protection:
Environment. In May 1997, the government of El Salvador passed an Environmental Law to complement its existing domestic environmental provisions protecting the country’s remaining flora and fauna. El Salvador is also a signatory of more than 51 international environmental agreements, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, and the Kyoto Protocol. Despite these conservation measures, some observers argue that El Salvador has the worst environmental situation in Central America. According to this report, El Salvador is the second most deforested country in Latin America, 90% of its river water is contaminated, soil erosion is pervasive, and air pollution is increasing. A lack of forest cover has increased El Salvador’s vulnerability to natural disasters, evidenced by the disastrous effects of Hurricane Mitch and the earthquakes of 2001. El Salvador’s environmental problems are exacerbated by the fact that it is the most densely populated country in the region. As in the Chilean free trade Agreement, DRCAFTA requires countries to enforce their own environmental laws. Observers note that this type of environmental provision may be inadequate, however, as many countries in the region do not effectively enforce their environmental laws. Additionally, the Central American governments have not requested a significant amount of technical assistance and capacity building grants to improve their enforcement abilities.