Environmental Hub For Central America And The Caribbean
ESTH Issues and Partners
The Department of State’s Regional Environmental Hub for Central America and the Caribbean is based at the U.S. Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica. It was established in August 1997 as one of twelve regional environmental offices at U.S. Embassies throughout the globe. The Environment, Science, Technology and Health (ESTH) Hub program reflects the conviction of the Department of State that threats to the global environment constitute a threat to the strategic interests of the United States, and that innovative U.S. foreign policy tools must be developed to address challenges that know no borders. The ESTH Hubs are at the forefront of encouraging regional and international cooperation for management of the world's resources.
The Hub for Central America and the Caribbean works closely with the region's governments, multilateral organizations, NGOs and private sector to focus on the most pressing environmental issues:
• Climate Change
• Clean Energy
• Green Economy
• Environmental Governance
• Biodiversity Protection, including forests
• Water, including Marine and Coastal Resources Management
Through its efforts on regional environmental issues, the Hub in Costa Rica supports our broader regional foreign policy goals such as sustainable development, economic integration and improved cooperation with, and between, Central American and the Caribbean nations.
The Hub operates in close coordination with other U.S. Government agencies to address the above-mentioned issues and to advance United States goals such as sustainable management of natural resources; strategies to advance mitigation, adaptation and clean energy; improved water sanitation and accessibility; and enhanced science and technology cooperation. These agencies include:
• Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
• U.S. Treasury Department
• U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
• U.S. Forest Service
• National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
The Hub also joins efforts with relevant NGOs and local governments, among many others. It also serves as a clearinghouse of information concerning U.S. Government environmental activities throughout the region.
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On-going Priorities include:
• Encouraging forest conservation, as part of the Hub’s long tradition of partnering with Costa Rica to promote sustainable development: The Hub actively represents the U.S. on the Oversight Committees of both the September 2007 and the September 2010 U.S.-Costa Rica debt-for-nature swaps (totaling $53 million), and supports, to the extent possible, USG engagement under TFCA and other agreements elsewhere in the region.
• Advancing low emissions efforts: In September 2010, the USG and GOCR signed a “Program of Cooperation” to advance the “Low Emissions Development Strategy” (LEDS) initiative, as part of the UNFCCC “Fast-Track” financing mechanism. Costa Rica is one of the first countries to sign such an agreement. Under the deal, the U.S. will help support Costa Rica’s efforts to achieve a low emissions development path in priority areas identified by the GOCR. Thanks to the Hub’s efforts, on-going “smart grid” pilot projects have been launched at the National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) and Earth University in Costa Rica. At the same time, the Hub works with other offices at Embassy San Jose (such as the Economics section, the Foreign Commercial Service, and Foreign Agricultural Service), and in the region, to promote clean energy and/or clean technology efforts.
• Promoting implementation of Chapter 17 of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) and the Environmental Cooperation Agreement (ECA) between CAFTA signatories: The Hub worked with the State Department and USAID to develop the ECA work-plan and identify projects on environmental cooperation. CAFTA signatories include Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. These efforts – on the part of the USG and its program implementers in CAFTA-DR countries – have included bringing over 1.2 million hectares of land under improved natural source management, training over 4,000 farmers in best agricultural practices, and training more than 13,000 people in enforcement and implementation of environmental laws, public participation, and/or cleaner production practices.
• Supporting marine conservation: The Hub is working with Costa Rican entities to find opportunities to enhance maritime and coastal environmental protection in the context of a recent Ministry of Environment – Ministry of Public Security accord on control and surveillance of Costa Rica’s vast ocean territory (including around Coco Island). Similarly, the Hub works with OES and NOAA Fisheries officials to advance sea turtle protection, not least during annual evaluations of the use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs), especially in Costa Rica. The Hub has also worked with NGO partners and Washington to develop a workshop on shark conversation linking the needs of the East Pacific Tropical Marine Corridor and APEC economies.
• Promoting scientific exchanges and cooperation: In October 2011, the Hub was instrumental in organizing a successful visit by NASA’s Administrator to Costa Rica. The Hub has also worked with NASA, NOAA, Department of Energy and other organizations studying the genesis of hurricanes, cloud composition, and vegetation composition in the region. In April 2011, the Hub brought Dr. Gonzalo Cid from NOAA, who gave presentations, at several institutions, concerning the impacts of climate change and adaptation strategies for coastal communities. The Hub is developing plans and options for speakers, exchanges and expert visits relevant to ESTH issues during 2012 and 2013.
• Encouraging inter-agency and international environmental cooperation: The Hub has provided constituent posts (i.e., in Central America and the Caribbean) with support and information relevant to promoting ESTH issues within Missions’ strategic resource planning. Also, the Hub has worked with existing non-USG mechanisms such as the Caribbean Environment Program (CEP) of the United Nations Environment Program, as well as with political/economic bodies such asCARICOM and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), to develop regional initiatives and to promote Caribbean and Central American cooperation.
Alain Norman – Regional Environmental Officer; email: email@example.com
Diego Acosta – Environmental Analyst; e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
Maricela Muñoz – Environmental Specialist; email: email@example.com
Viviana Valverde – Administrative Assistant; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: (506) 2519-2392 or 2519-2000
Fax: (506) 2519-2311
U.S. Government Agencies
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