[Released by the U.S. Consulate General Vladivostok]
The U.S. Consulate General in Vladivostok announced today that Daniel A. Reifsnyder, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Environment and Sustainable Development, has ended his visit to Kamchatka and arrived in Vladivostok.
During his visit to Kamchatka, Mr. Reifsnyder led the U.S. Delegation to the 16th Annual Meeting of the Russian-American Pacific Partnership (RAPP), held in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy from July 13-14. John McCaslin, Minister-Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow co-chaired the meeting. At the RAPP session, Mr. Reifsnyder discussed the extensive environmental cooperation between the United States and Russia taking place under the Bilateral Presidential Commission.
"Presidents Obama and Medvedev created the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission in July 2009 to deepen our cooperation in concrete ways. Over the past two years, both countries have worked hard to meet our leaders' expectations," said Mr. Reifsnyder. "In the Environmental Working Group -- my purview -- we have had an exciting year: Our Presidents issued a statement in May at their meeting in Deauville on cooperation in the Bering Strait Region, setting the stage for more engagement in this region."
On July 14, Mr. Reifsnyder met in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy with Mr. Vladimir Ilyukhin, Governor of Kamchatskiy Krai, where they discussed plans for economic development in the region and approaches to environmental protection.
On July 15, Mr. Reifsnyder met in Yelizovo with Russian Federation First Deputy Minister Sergei Donskoy of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology, where they discussed a range of key bilateral environmental issues, including protection of salmon habitats, furthering efforts to develop a Shared Heritage Area in the Beringia Region between Chukotka and Alaska, national parks cooperation, brownfields and U.S. Super Fund experience in cleaning up hazardous waste sites, and mounting concern about the impact of black carbon on human health and climate change.
Besides participation in the RAPP and official meetings, Mr. Reifsnyder visited Kronotskiy Nature Reserve and met representatives of indigenous peoples and with non-governmental organizations concerned with conservation and environmental protection.
"During my time in the Russian Far East, a topic of keen interest has been the balancing of economic and environmental goals," said Mr. Reifsnyder. “We realize that this can be a challenge, and we in the United States face this issue every day; however, I firmly believe that economic growth can take place in an environmentally sustainable manner," he affirmed.
On July 18 -- the first day of Mr. Reifsnyder's visit to Primorskiy Krai -- he visited the Marine Protected Area in Srednaya Bay and the Bezverkhovo Settlement, where he met the director of the Marine Protected Area, members of the Slavyanka fire brigade and fire warden as well as representatives of environmental NGOs.