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Matti Lehtonen
Country Programme Manager

5 June 2013 - Port-au-Prince/Santo Domingo - Countering environmental degradation across the Haitian-Dominican Republic border in order to boost food security was today agreed by the Minister of Environment of Haiti, Jean François Thomas, and the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of the Dominican Republic, Bautista Rojas Gómez.

The announcement, part of world-wide celebrations to mark the United Nations World Environment Day, followed the release of a landmark study on the strategic area by the Governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) , the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The report – which presents the findings of an 18-month long assessment of the environment in the area that separates the two countries on the island of Hispaniola – identified 4 key issues:

  1. Haitian poverty, food insecurity and under-development affect virtually all parts of the border zone;
  2. Soil erosion, deforestation and a degraded marine environment are all indicative of growing environmental degradation;
  3. Weak governance affects the economy and society in the area; and
  4. Economic and resource inequalities cause many of the border zone problems.

“The Governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic have reached a turning point that holds the potential for significant environmental improvements of the border zone between their two countries,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director. “Cooperatively addressing environmental degradation is among the foundations for a transition towards a Green Economy with its potential to overcome poverty, generate jobs and sustain livelihoods now and into the future. UNEP stands ready to assist both countries in achieving such a transition".

The goal of the report – compiled by Environment Ministry officials and other national institutions and stakeholders in both countries at national and local level, in conjunction with UNEP and partners - is to promote increased national and local level bilateral cooperation to prevent or reduce tensions over border zone issues in addition to providing the framework for more sustainable livelihood practices and enhancing the resilience of the local populations.

“Haiti is keen to address the problems in the border area,” said Haitian Environment Minister Jean François Thomas. “We recognize that the transboundary charcoal trade, soil erosion, and a reduction in land productivity are complex challenges that need to be focussed on urgently.”

“The Dominican Republic is keen to boost its collaboration and cooperation with Haiti on border issues that affect both our environment and our natural resources,” said Bautista Rojas Gómez, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources in the Dominican Republic. “We wish to spearhead agroforestry and trade, among other activities, that will help alleviate poverty in the area.”

The ten bi-national recommendations made in the study – to be implemented at an estimated cost of USD$136 million over a five-year period – include:

  • Protecting and increasing vegetation cover;
  • Promoting sustainable agricultural development;
  • Reducing transboundary river flood risk;
  • Improving the sustainability of transboundary trade and bi-national markets;
  • Developing and diversifying the economy of the border zone;
  • Addressing the contamination of transboundary rivers;
  • Improving existing transboundary cooperation mechanisms that deal with environmental issues and transboundary watersheds;
  • Promoting environmental governance to regulate and control the trade of charcoal and other forest products;
  • Strengthening the management of marine and coastal resources; and
  • Analyzing the flooding of Lake Azuei and Lake Enriquillo.

The study was financed by the Governments of Norway and Finland and conducted within the framework of UNEP's Environmental Cooperation for Peacebuilding programme.

Notes to Editors:

The report Haiti-Dominican Republic: Environmental challenges in the border zone is available in English, French and Spanish online here

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) seeks to minimize environmental threats to human well-being from the environmental causes and consequences of conflicts and disasters. In response to increased global awareness of the environmental dimensions of crises, and to growing demand for services addressing them, UNEP has identified disasters and conflicts as one of six priority areas of work.

Further Ressources:

United Nations World Environment Day
Ministry of the Environment, Republic of Haiti
Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, Dominican Republic
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway
Environmental Cooperation for Peacebuilding

You can find some high resolution photos of the Haiti/DR border zone (with captions in English, French & Spanish) on our Flickr page at:

For more information, please contact:

-  Antonio Perera, Haiti Country Programme Manager, Post-Conflict & Disaster Management Branch (Port-au-Prince) on +509 3699 5540 or

-  UNEP Newsdesk in Nairobi on Tel. +254 20 7625022 / +254 20 762 3088 / +254 20 762 5261 or

-  Exil Lucienna, Ministry of the Environment, Republic of Haiti on +509 3461 4880 or +509 3278 2138

-  Lic. Claudia V. Adames Dinzey, Vice-Ministry of International Cooperation, Dominican Republic on +809 501 2768 or +809 567 4300 Ext. 6420

-  Samantha Newport, Communications Advisor, Post-Conflict & Disaster Management Branch (Geneva) on + 41 22 917 8798 or