Trade Agreements

Colombia Free Trade Agreement--A Bad Idea

Friends of the Earth and Sierra Club submitted a joint letter to Congress asking for opposition to the Columbia Free Trade Agreement, citing egregious human rights and environmental violations.

Read the letter

The Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and Environmental Protection

The Environmental Context

Central America is considered one of the most biodiversity rich regions on the planet. Four of the five Central American countries included in CAFTA have tropical areas identified as “critical regions” that require the protection of biodiversity. Costa Rica alone has an estimated 4% of all living species in a country that comprises only 0.01% of global territory. Three out of four migratory bird routes in the Western Hemisphere pass through the CAFTA countries, making the forests in this tiny strip of land an essential habitat for the survival of 225 species of birds.

In the midst of already fragile ecological zones, Central America is battling with a wide range of environmental problems.

  • A primary issue of grave concern is the mismanagement of Central America’s once abundant forests. The depletion of forest coverage has led to increased soil erosion, the deterioration of watersheds, and decreased biodiversity. Despite the economic and biological benefits of a healthy rainforest, Central America has lost more than 70% of its forest cover due to agriculture, overgrazing, and increased logging and mining.
  • Urban pollution, including air pollution, low levels of sewage and solid waste treatment, and chemical and pesticide runoff into water supplies, are rampant, particularly as urban migration increases. In Guatemala, for instance, only 3% of wastewater is treated and only 53% of households have garbage collected.
  • Central America’s coastal environment is contaminated with agricultural and industrial runoff and untreated sewage. Overfishing has led to the depletion of many valuable fishstocks.