An official website of the United States Government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Good afternoon National Coordinators of the Summit Process, Deputy Coordinators, other distinguished delegates, technical experts, Joint Summit Working Group institutions, and Summits Secretariat representatives.

I am Maxine Burkett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans, Fisheries and Polar Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

Welcome to the afternoon session of the Ad Hoc Technical Group to implement the Our Sustainable Green Future commitment our leaders made at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.

During this session, we will focus on implementing paragraph 3.d. of the political commitment on Our Sustainable Green Future to conserve, protect, and restore coastal ecosystems.

Coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs have the potential to play an important role in mitigating carbon emissions.  Though they occupy only about two percent of the ocean, coastal blue carbon ecosystems like seagrass beds and mangroves account for about half of the carbon sequestered in ocean sediments.

Conservation and restoration of coastal marine ecosystems achieves valuable climate co-benefits, including reducing coastal storm impacts, preventing erosion, water filtration, and providing habitat for valuable marine species.

We must scale up investment in supporting the resilience of coastal communities and the resilience of ocean ecosystems.

Policy makers need access to robust climate data to make decisions on the best path forward to create actionable frameworks to remove and sequester ocean carbon.

As part of this effort, President Biden announced at COP26 his Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience, called “PREPARE.”

Following on that announcement, in September the White House released the PREPARE Action Plan, which outlines how 19 federal agencies will help more than 500 million people in developing countries adapt to and manage the impacts of climate change by 2030.

Through PREPARE, we will get climate data into the hands of communities that need it to strengthen resilience.

And we will strengthen the capacity of developing countries to access finance for adaptation, develop bankable investments, and mobilize private capital.

As the compliance and voluntary markets for buying and selling carbon grow, it is important that international carbon credits generated from blue carbon projects are real, additional, and verifiable.

We also must expand capacity building and training for local implementers to grow the number of individuals with skills needed to develop and sustainably manage blue carbon projects.  This includes scientists, project managers, and experts in the carbon market.

With the support of the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – which you all know more simply as NOAA – launched the Blue Carbon Inventory Project, which aims to develop tools and build capacity to support developing countries in including coastal wetlands within their National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (NGGI).  The United States was the first country to include coastal wetlands in our NGGI and we look forward to helping others do the same.

Additionally, the Ocean Conservation Pledge encourages countries to conserve or protect 30 percent of their domestic ocean waters by 2030, in support of the global 30×30 goal.

This pledge can serve as an additional lever to encourage countries to protect or restore their coastal blue carbon ecosystems and avoid shifting these ecosystems from a carbon “sink” to a carbon “source”.

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to following up on the commitments of the Ninth Summit of the Americas taking a whole-of-government approach to tackling the climate crisis.  The climate crisis is also an ocean crisis, and the ocean bears the brunt of climate change.

The United States is committed to mainstreaming and implementing nature-based solutions for effective and equitable use for climate, biodiversity, and people.

As part of President Biden’s January 2021 executive order on Tackling the Climate Crisis, nature based solutions were identified as an integral part of our plan to combat the biodiversity and climate crises at home and abroad.

The Biden-Harris Administration recently released the Nature-Based Solutions Roadmap, an outline of strategic recommendations to unlock the full potential of nature-based solutions.

The Administration also highlighted new and recent interagency commitments to ensure over $25 billion in infrastructure and climate funding to support nature-based solutions.

From the Our Ocean Conference in Palau, which generated over $16 billion in commitments, to the key deliverables announced at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, 2022 lived up to its billing as a super year for the ocean, in particular through a suite of ambitious ocean-climate actions taken by the United States.

This year we will do even more, as we see new actions pledged here at the eighth Our Ocean Conference this week, including substantial commitments to combat climate change.

We know that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach to climate adaptation.

Together, we can ensure that communities and the resources and ecosystems that sustain them are equipped to adapt to a changing world.

A coordinated approach to reckoning with the climate crisis will be critical, which makes the convening of this technical experts group so timely.

We must work together and alongside one another at all levels to ensure that all communities have the resources they need to move forward on ocean-based carbon removal and adapt to the impacts of climate change.


And now I would like to turn the floor over to Carlos Correa of Conservation International for an expert presentation on recommendations to support blue carbon ecosystems.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future