On behalf of the United States, I would like to thank the World Future Council, the United Nations Forum on Forests and members of the jury for nominating and selecting the Lacey Act Amendments of 2008 for the prestigious Silver Award. Many people in this country worked very had over a period of some six years to bring about this historic legislation – and its final enactment was the product of a true partnership among our environmental groups, industry and our Congress.
What some people even now do not fully understand is that the Lacey Act Amendments of 2008 do not impose our environmental standards on other nations – instead, they seek to help other nations uphold their own environmental standards – to our mutual benefit and to the benefit of the global environment.
I would also like to congratulate the other nominees, particularly the Republic of Rwanda and the Republic of the Gambia. These countries have instituted policies that are showing promising results in halting deforestation and improving the economic and social well being of their citizens.
As you well know, the world is facing complex environmental challenges that will continue to grow in the years to come. It is only fitting that during this year – the International Year of Forests – the world is turning its attention to one of the most serious -- the threat that illegal logging and unsustainable forest management presents to the health and well being of our planet and its inhabitants.
The United States recognizes that there are multiple approaches to resolving these issues. The Lacey Act, with its 2008 Amendments, is just one way forward. What is most important is the end result – reducing deforestation and halting the loss of biodiversity, and ensuring that those whose livelihoods depend on forests and their products are protected.
Each of the sixteen countries nominated for a World Future Policy Award has found a path toward achieving these goals that works for its people and in its unique circumstances. And together, we are making real and significant impacts that will benefit future generations.
So, once again, let me express our deep gratitude to the World Future Council and my admiration for our fellow nominees and extend a thank you to the Central Park Zoon – and the sea lions – for hosting us this evening.