USAID Commemorates World Environment Day

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Statement by Administrator Samantha Power

For Immediate Release

Sunday, June 5, 2022
Office of Press Relations

It was 50 years ago today that the United Nations gathered in Stockholm for the first-ever global conference on the environment. June 5, 1972, marked the first time that the world had recognized humanity’s dependence on a healthy environment and a stable climate—a day we now celebrate as World Environment Day.

And yet, in the 50 years since that conference, habitat loss and illegal wildlife trading have decimated 65 percent of wildlife populations. Deforestation and land degradation have eroded critical ecosystems worldwide. And as our oceans and air quality suffer from pervasive pollution and every year we set new records for rising global temperatures and sea levels, the world’s dependence on fossil fuels remains seemingly intractable..

These environmental declines have threatened the health not just of animals and ecosystems, but humans as well. Today, we face increased threats from novel zoonotic diseases like Zika, Ebola, and COVID-19—diseases that don’t just ravage populations, but destabilize entire countries in their wake, and upend investments that help protect our collective security. Similarly, rising sea levels threaten the existence of thousands of cities and towns around the world. And by 2050, more than half the world’s current population—around five billion people—could live in water-scarce regions.

USAID recognizes that this is the decisive decade for the future of our shared planet.  That is why, on the eve of Earth Day 2022, USAID launched an ambitious new Climate Strategy that will guide our work through 2030 in a way that calls on all parts of the Agency to play a part in our response.

The new Climate Strategy accelerates USAID efforts to meet the immense environmental challenges we face today. It builds on a strong foundation of climate change and environmental programming and field expertise, all while working with a vast network of partners in government, the private sector, and local organizations. Specifically, we are elevating the voices of Indigenous communities, women, and young people, acknowledging their expertise and leadership on environmental issues for centuries. We have much to learn from these leaders, and we are working to empower climate leaders in these communities in at least 40 countries by the end of the decade.

We recognize that our climate work has far-reaching impacts for our ongoing endeavors to protect global health, promote peace and stability, and help economies grow sustainably. That’s why we’re working to accelerate partner countries’ transition to more widely accessible, affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy sources in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat air pollution. We are also working to reduce waste in oceans and landfills, and conserve forests and biodiversity. And we are committed to help partner countries adapt to new realities. Along with the Department of State, we are co-leading PREPARE, the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience, a whole-of-government effort to help more than half a billion people adapt to and manage climate impacts by 2030.

We all have a responsibility—institutionally and individually— to transform climate challenges into opportunities to build a safer, more secure world. On this World Environment Day, USAID will work to meet this moment with the action it so desperately needs.

Last updated: June 27, 2022

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