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Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Environment and Conservation
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Environment and Conservation

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. Every year, toxic chemicals, some capable of traveling thousands of miles from their source and lasting decades in the environment, are released into the earth's atmosphere.

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 Photo of environment -- trees and wateranimal species can take their toll on our welfare and economy. Twenty-five percent of prescription drugs come from rapidly-disappearing tropical forests. 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 US interests can flourish in developed and developing countries worldwide. This movement of environmental issues into the mainstream of U.S. foreign policy has come to be known as Environmental Diplomacy.

The Office of Environmental Policy (ENV) develops U.S. policy on environmental issues in the area of air pollution, toxic chemicals and pesticides, hazardous wastes and other pollutants. Key agreements include the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the Basel Convention on Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes, the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent, and the UN ECE Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution Agreement. The Office also focuses on a variety of multilateral organizations and issues such as the UN Environment Program, the OECD Environment Policy Committee, the North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation, trade and the environment, and the integration of environmental considerations into the work of the World Bank and other multilateral development banks.

The Office of Ecology and Natural Resource Conservation (ENRC) 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. ENRC 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 biological 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. ENRC also oversees bilateral agreements under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act, an innovative program of debt reduction.


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Deputy Assistant Reifsnyder:Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Nov. 19) Statement

Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer
Statement by Deputy Assistant Secretary Daniel A. Reifsnyder, Doha, Qatar (Nov. 19)

Sustainable Forests
Deputy Assistant Secretary Reifsnyder(10/31): "Since launching the CBFP, the United States has invested more than $100 million to implement the Convergence Plan and help the countries of the Congo Basin to achieve the goals we all share: sustainably managed forests; livelihoods for the people of the region; and effective governance."  Full Text 

The Governments of U.S.and Peru announced an agreement to reduce Peru’s debt payments in exchange for protecting the country’s tropical forests.  Under the agreement more than $25 million will be put towards conserving Peru’s rainforests. (Oct. 20) Media Note 

Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Dobriansky spoke at a Wildlife Conservation Society event on Western Lowland Gorillas (Sept. 17) Full Text

The Paramaribo Dialogue
Welcoming address by Stephanie Caswell, Director, Environment and Natural Resources Conservation (Sept. 9)

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