(October-December 1998)



1. SUPPORT TO ORGANS OF THE OAS, In relation to the Summit of the Americas on Sustainable Development



3.1 Cooperation for Sustainable Development in Border Areas

3.2 Cooperation for Integrated Management of Coastal Zones

3.3 Cooperation for Integrated Management of Water Resources and River Basins

3.4 Cooperation for the Mitigation of Natural Disasters



This report, which covers the fourth quarter of 1998, presents the activities conducted by the Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment (USDE) within the framework of the Program of Activities for 1998, which is based on the Inter-American Program for Sustainable Development. The information is presented in accordance with the following four categories: support to organs of the OAS, support for other offices of the Organization, partnership for development activities, and the exchange of information. The text is followed by a table that compares, for each project, the financial resources of the entire project, the amount programmed for 1998, the sum executed during the fourth quarter of the year, and the cumulative execution.


In relation to the Summit of the Americas on Sustainable Development

Activities continued on the execution of the project Coordination and Follow-up of the Santa Cruz Plan of Action and the Execution of Activities under the Inter-American Program of Sustainable Development in Support of Chapter II of the Plan of Action of Santa Cruz.

Progress was made in the initiative to establish of a hemisphere-wide network of officials and experts on environmental law. The report on the consultation with experts at the technical meeting held at the North-South Center of the University of Miami on May 21 and 22 was completed. A presentation and discussion on the network initiative took place at the Fifth International Conference on Environmental Compliance and Enforcement, held in Monterey, California, from November 16 to 20, 1998. Based on the consultations made, a blueprint for the network and its operation was prepared and sent for final observations to those who participated in its drafting. A funding proposal for the network was also prepared to obtain external funding.

The technical meeting on ways to strengthen public and private financing for sustainable development was held on October 30, in Washington, DC. Five papers dealing with sustainable development and its financing were presented at the event. Among the topics in the papers discussed were the financing of biodiversity conservation, the use of economic instruments for the improvement of environmental management and the generation of funds for sustainable development, the compliance of environmental laws and use of fines as a source of funding for projects that protect the environment, and the use of tradable carbon emission permits as a source of funds for the region. Based on the discussions during the meeting, the authors are preparing the final versions for publication and distribution.

In the fourth quarter of 1999, all three projects in the demonstration sites component of the Project for the Inter-American Strategy for Public Participation (ISP) advanced appreciably. In the co-management project in Portland Bight, Jamaica, the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (CCAM), the local NGO co-managing the Portland Bight Sustainable Development area, supported a series of community meetings to identify environmental, social and economic problems, and potential solutions. The Gulf of Honduras and Ferrol Bay, Peru, projects also moved forward, as the Foundation for Ecological Development and the Environment (FUNDAECO) and the National Council for the Environment (CONAM) both advanced government/civil society cooperation in their respective areas by such processes as joint committees and community meetings.

Three case studies (of nine expected) were delivered by the consultant undertaking the legal inventory for the legal and institutional framework component of the ISP. These case studies were: Bolivia’s Public Participation Law: An Institutional Framework for Local Decision-Making; Local and International Participation in the Case of Mexico’s Turbio River; and Access to Information through Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers: The Case of the Toxic Release Inventory Law in the United States.

In the information network component of the project, a consultant was hired in October to prepare a report on Communication and Information Guidelines for the ISP. The work entailed identifying and proposing communication tools for disseminating information from the national government to the sub-national level and increasing participation of stakeholders and interested parties in sustainable development decision and policy-making.

In the technical assistance and training component, two important seminars were held. On October 20 and 21, the ISP held the Regional Technical Seminar on Water Resource Management in Transboundary Watersheds in Montevideo, Uruguay. And on December 10 and 11 the Regional Technical Seminar on Participatory Management of Biodiversity and Coastal Resources in Meso America was held in San Salvador. Participants from relevant government agencies and civil society organizations throughout the respective regions used case studies to focus on existing problems and share their experiences with public participation the technical area of focus. Each seminar yielded recommendations for improving the consistency and effectiveness of public participation of sustainable development decisions. These recommendations will be used in drafting the Framework Strategy, which will be undertaken in 1999.

Work on the consultative fora component also moved forward, as the consultant working on the legal inventory agreed to supplement the existing report on National Councils for Sustainable Development with a legal and regulatory assessment as well as strategic recommendations to strengthen or aid in the creation of these organizations. In addition, in December an investigation began of another forum for public participation, Honduras’ National Forum on Convergence (FONAC).

With support from the United Nations Center for Regional Development (UNCRD), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the Secretariat of the United Nations International Decade for the Reduction of Natural Disasters (DIRDN), the OAS presented the two remaining regional workshops on Sustainable Cities and Trade Corridors: Reduction of Vulnerability to Natural Disasters, Mandates, and Future Action, as part of the activities to follow up on the Bolivia Summit. One took place in Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia (October 15), and the other in San José, Costa Rica (October 27 and 28).

The OAS, in collaboration with the World Bank, PAHO, the DIRDN Secretariat, the Network of Social Studies on the Prevention of Disasters in Latin America and other institutions, presented the Second Inter-American Dialogue for the Reduction of Disasters (Dialogue II) on December 15 and 16, 1998, in Washington D.C., at the World Bank and the OAS. The agenda included the drafting of recommendations to incorporate the reduction of vulnerability of the economic and social infrastructure to El Niño and other natural phenomena arising in the day-to-day activities of regional and national development. More than 100 specialists from 18 countries of the hemisphere and Europe participated.

In coordination with the World Bank, the IDB, the Andean Development Corporation (CAF), and the Pan American Highway Institute (IPC), the OAS presented the draft of the document "Hemispheric Plan for the Guide to Environmental Management of the Highway Transportation System" at the third meeting of the Latin American Society of Highway Environmental Systems (SLUAV), which took place in Florianópolis, Brazil, from November 29 to December 4, 1998. The OAS is coordinating the activities to complete the document and is incorporating comments from more than 400 professionals in the Hemisphere.

With assistance from the DIRDN Secretariat and Partners of the Americas, the OAS presented a Virtual Conference on Implementation of the Hemispheric Plan for the Reduction of Vulnerability to Natural Disasters in the Education Sector, on October 19 to 24. Participants presented and discussed recommendations on new activities for the reduction of vulnerability of the education sector to natural disasters.

A meeting of the Interagency Task Force Group on Bolivia Summit Follow-up (IATF) was held on December 11. The Assistant Director of the Division for Sustainable Development (DESA) of United Nations and the Director of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation of NAFTA (CEC), participated as special guests. The representative of DESA suggested that a jointly organized review of progress on the implementation on Agenda 21 in the Latin American Region would be useful as was done recently in Asia. The idea was well received. The Director of CEC expressed interest that her agency join various working groups of the Task Force including the one on Pollution Prevention and the Environmental Law Network. Both agencies were welcomed as members of the Interagency Task Force /1. The Chair informed that he will be presenting an update of the activities of the IATF to the next meeting of the UN Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development at its meeting on March 8 and 9, in New York.

The meeting reviewed the progress of the following working groups:

The representative of the Canadian Mission to the OAS briefed the Task Force on a project entitled "Energy and Environmental Law in Latin America and the Caribbean: Legislative Inventory and Analysis" which is supported by the University of Calgary, CIDA and OLADE. Task Force members were requested to study the document which she presented to explore their interest in possible co-financing.



3.1 Cooperation for Sustainable Development in Border Areas

Execution of the Project for the Sustainable Development of Border Areas in the Central American Isthmus was completed, with financing from FEMCIDI 1997. During the quarter, continued cooperation was provided through the following modules:

Continuation of unfinished activities in this module was incorporated into the proposal presented for FEMCIDI financing, which was approved but not financed. This situation will affect the continuation of activities already under way.

Funding was requested from FEMCIDI to continue the activities in this module, with a similar outcome to the San Juan River Basin module.

Copies of the document on comprehensive diagnosis and the 13 project outlines were distributed among the different institutions that participated in the project; and assistance was lent to the governments for seeking financing for the implementation of the projects identified. In November, the area was severely affected by Hurricane Mitch, which showed the validity of the approach being taken in the Basin and the importance of the project.  Continuation of the project in 1999 depends on the allocation of FEMCIDI funding or funds from new sources of financing.

3.2 Cooperation for integrated management of coastal zones

The project Caribbean: Planning for Adaptation to Global Climate Change (CPACC) continued its activities during this period. CPACC staff has begun discussions with regional governmental officials and the private sector for the establishment of a Caribbean Climate Change Center. Representatives from CPACC participating countries met in Barbados in preparation for the Fourth Conference of the Parties (COP4) to the United Nations Conference of Global Climate Change and in particular to agree on a regional approach towards the proposed Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). In addition, CPACC co-sponsored a workshop on climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation for representatives from the Wider Caribbean. During this meeting, delegates put forward a series of recommendations for priority action to address climate change in the region. Major progress has been made in project implementation, with all components now active, either on or ahead of schedule. All tidal gauges and weather-monitoring sensors have been installed. The data from the gauges is now available through the project’s Web site (www.cpacc.org, then click on "Go to Data"). The preparation of national inventories of coastal resources and their uses has begun by collecting, assessing, and cataloging existing information. Equipment for monitoring coral reefs was purchased and training will commence in the next quarter. St. Vincent and the Grenadines started data collection for its greenhouse gases inventory.

The purpose of the Environmental Management of Greater Caribbean Coastal Area, Phase II (EMCCA II) project is to assist participating countries in the region with development planning and management of coastal and marine resources. This quarter was the final quarter of the project. All activities were completed and the objectives were achieved. EMCCA II assisted the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI) to organize a strategic technical meeting to discuss the draft proposal for a PDF Block B grant from the GEF for freshwater resources. In addition to representatives from UNDP, UNEP and OAS, several national water companies and water resources institutions were present. The proposal was sent to UNEP headquarters (UNEP is one of the three GEF implementing agencies) for their consideration and processing. EMCCA II co-sponsored, with CPACC, the Climate Institute, and the US Environmental Protection Agency, a regional technical workshop on climate change impacts in the Wider Caribbean. It should be noted that EMCCA II funds also provided OAS counterpart support for the CPACC project.

3.3.  Cooperation for integrated management of water resources and river basins

Work continued on various elements of the Program of Strategic Action (PEA) for the Bermejo River Basin. During this period, actions particularly concerned with the development of ecological zoning and the site location of the environmental problems of the Bermejo River Basin were taken. Maps of districts and representative zones determining primary production in the Central Valley of Tarija, Bolivia were made. The second stage of the study on environmental legislation was begun and progress was made on the environmental education program of the PEA. The final stage was initiated in the design of the Baritú-Tariquía Biological Corridor, in the study on control of sediment in the Tolomosa River Basin, and in the design of a mathematical model on the morphology of generation and transportation of sediment. In addition, the studies on the transboundary migration characteristics, erosion control for the Santa Ana and Camacho river basins, and land tenure of the Central Valley of Tarija were completed. The thematic cards of a digital format of the natural resources of the Bermejo River Basin were completed. Finally, from November 25 to 27, 1998, the third regional workshop was held in Jujuy, Argentina, where the analysis of the Environmental Assessment of the Bermejo River Basin was presented. Valuable comments were received and will be incorporated in the final document of the PEA.

Preparation began of the terms of reference of the different subprojects that make up the two projects financed by the GEF, Integrated Management of the Upper Paraguay River Basin and the Integrated Management of the Activities in the São Francisco River Basin - Phase I, which will each last two and a half years. GEF resources for these projects total US$11,386,000, of which US$6,615,000 corresponds to the Upper Paraguay River Basin and US$4,771,000 to the São Francisco Basin. Activities in both projects are expected to begin in the first quarter of 1999.

Different activities will be carried out in the framework of the project Strengthening the Water Resources Sector in Brazil. The Brazilian government is providing funding for that project in the amount of US$3,400,000. Among the activities carried out are the preparation of the document on the role of municipalities and water resources management, the Manual on Water Use Rights of the Ministry of Water Resources (SRH), economic studies to determine mechanisms for pricing water, continuation of the meetings with the states and water basin organizations for the implementation of new Committees on Federal River Basins, and the continued formation of the data bank needed for the development of the Management Information System of the Ministry of Water Resources (SRH).

3.4.  Cooperation for the mitigation of natural disasters

The OAS-USAID Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project (CDMP) is being carried out with a USAID grant of US$5 million. During the fourth quarter of 1998, the Project continued its technical cooperation activities in the Caribbean. In October, CDMP and the OAS Natural Hazards Project co-sponsored a regional workshop in St. Kitts, to present the results of a year long study in five Eastern Caribbean countries of the vulnerability of schools and shelters to natural hazards. The study produced a manual describing standards for retrofitting and construction of schools and shelters, as well as a school/shelter maintenance manual. In December, CDMP sponsored two meetings in Antigua, a one-day roundtable on safer home construction and a two-day workshop on storm hazard mapping. In the housing meeting, which was in response to housing damages resulting from Hurricane Georges, a group of primarily private-sector participants attempted to identify the constraints and potential for safer housing in Antigua and to propose a course for future action. The storm hazard-mapping workshop was the first in a series of planned workshops, in which the TAOS/L storm hazard model was used to develop maps of storm surge and wind hazards from tropical storms. The workshop served as a forum for discussing the implications of these hazards for development and emergency management planning in the country. Further information on the CDMP is available on the Web at http://www.oas.org./en/cdmp.

With support from the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), Phase IV of the Program on Flood Alert and Reduction of Vulnerability to Flooding in Central America is being carried out in collaboration with the Center for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America (CEPREDENAC), the Regional Commission for Water Resources (CRRH) and the Central American Isthmus Federation of Municipalities (FEMCA). National and local institutions have continued to implement national workshops and a regional workshop on emergency planning. Activities have been interrupted due to the impact of Hurricane Mitch in late October.

With funding from FEMCIDI, the USDE continued the international coordination of the Project for Vulnerability Reduction to Natural Dangers in the MERCOSUR Transportation Corridors. Training and technical national studies on pilot sections of selected trade corridors most vulnerable to natural dangers continued. Two meetings with the national project coordinators and technical advisors were also held, one in Florianopolis on December 1, and the other in Washington, DC on December 15.


During the last quarter, the Exchange of Water Information and Technology in the Americas project held the third of a series of workshops in Gramado, Brazil (October 1998). The results of the three workshops were synthesized at a Technical Meeting of Water Experts held in Washington (December 1998) to develop detailed recommendations for action by various agencies and organizations that will further implement the water and coastal zone initiatives adopted at the Hemispheric Summit on Sustainable Development in 1996. These recommendations will be presented and discussed at the Third Inter-American Dialogue on Water Management (Dialogue III) in 1999. The Water on the Web Workshop in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (October 1998) brought together 25 web site managers and information specialists from 7 countries to discuss how to better the efforts to meet the needs of managers for water information using the Internet. Results of the meeting included the establishment of an Inter-American Water-on-the-Web Network, creation of a shared web site, www.waterweb.org, and recommendations for a Water Information Summit to be held in Ft. Lauderdale in the fall of 1999. The Inter-American Water Resources Network (IWRN) Advisory Council continued preparations for Dialogue III and for IWRN participation in the development of a Water Vision for the Americas.

/1  The Interagency Task Force now has as members the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the Division for Sustainable Development (DESA) of United Nations, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation of NAFTA (CEC), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the Inter-American Institute on Cooperation for Agriculture (IICA), the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Andean Development Corporation (CAF), the United Nations Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

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