An expanding global population, rapid conversion of critical habitat to other uses, and the spread of invasive species to non-native habitats pose a serious threat to the world's natural resources and to all of us who depend on them for food, fuel, shelter and medicine. Policies that distort markets and provide incentives for unsustainable development intensify the problem. Every year, there is a net loss of 22 million acres of forest area worldwide.
Many environmental problems respect no borders and threaten the health, prosperity and even the national security of Americans. Pesticide contamination of food and water, polluted air, and invasive plant and animal species can take their toll on our welfare and economy. When people around the globe lack access to energy, clean water, food, or a livable environment, the economic instability and political unrest that may result can be felt at home in the form of costly peacekeeping and humanitarian interventions or lost markets.
Addressing these problems and achieving sustainable management of natural resources worldwide requires the cooperation and commitment of all countries. The State Department, through its environmental offices in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs and working with other federal agencies, is seeking to forge this cooperation and these commitments through a variety of diplomatic approaches globally, regionally and bilaterally. These include negotiating effective science-based global treaties and promoting their enforcement, developing international initiatives with key countries to harness market forces to the cause of sustainable development, and creating a foreign policy framework in which innovative public-private partnerships involving U.S. interests can flourish in developed and developing countries worldwide.
The Office of Conservation and Water (ECW) coordinates the development of U.S. foreign policy approaches to conserving and sustainably managing the world's ecologically and economically important ecosystems, including forests, wetlands, drylands and coral reefs, and the species that depend on them. ECW also leads the formulation of policies to address international threats to biodiversity, notably land degradation, invasive species and illegal trade, as well as issues associated with the safe handling of living modified organisms and with access to genetic resources and the sharing of benefits arising from subsequent resource use. The Office advances U.S. interests on these matters in a wide variety of international organizations, institutions, treaties and other fora within and outside the United Nations system. Among these are the UN Forum on Forests, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the Convention to Combat Desertification, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the Convention of Wetlands of International Importance, and the International Coral Reef Initiative. ECW also oversees bilateral agreements under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act, an innovative program of debt reduction.
-07/27/12 Global Water - The Facts; Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs; Washington, DC