On June 5, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) commemorates World Environment Day. In line with this year’s theme of “Ecosystem Restoration,” we recognize the importance of a healthy environment for global prosperity and security, and we reiterate our commitment to address the urgent environmental challenges we face.
Mounting environmental challenges — from the climate crisis to air and ocean pollution to unprecedented biodiversity loss — pose an existential threat to humanity. These environmental challenges are already exacerbating poverty, hunger, and displacement and undermining decades of global progress. Urgent action is needed to reverse these trends and to capitalize on the opportunities that a healthier environment and a green economy present.
The United States is rising to the challenge. In April, the White House announced a new Global Climate Ambition Initiative — co-led by the State Department and USAID — that will support partner countries in combating the climate crisis by establishing net-zero strategies, and implementing their nationally determined contributions and national adaptation strategies.
In the last two months, we announced that USAID is developing an ambitious new Climate Strategy; we committed to launching seven new next-generation clean energy programs, totaling more than $200 million, to establish foundations for a net-zero energy grid in Asia; and we committed to protecting and reforesting 20 million hectares of land in key landscapes by 2025. These investments in restoring forests and other ecosystems build our capacity to store carbon, increase resilience to the impacts of climate change, and protect water, soil, and other natural resources vital to people’s health and livelihoods.
In addition to addressing the climate crisis, USAID continues to advance solutions to other critical environmental issues. In March, we launched a new global flagship program to combat air pollution, which now kills more people annually than HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria combined. We are accelerating our efforts to combat the growing ocean plastic pollution crisis by strengthening solid waste management systems and advancing the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) in key countries. We are tackling wildlife trafficking, while reducing consumer demand for illegal wildlife products. And we continue to work closely with communities to better conserve the natural resources they depend on for clean water, nutritious food, income and livelihoods.
As we strive toward a cleaner, greener future, we recognize that the harsh impacts of climate change, pollution, and environment degradation are already happening. At home and abroad, these negative impacts tend to fall on the most vulnerable communities, exacerbating existing inequalities. USAID is working to reduce risks, increase resilience, and help communities better adapt to a changing climate and environment. We are committed to elevating local voices, and empowering marginalized communities, including women, youth, and Indigenous Peoples, to be agents of change on climate and the environment.
On this World Environment Day, I encourage our partners around the world to join in reflecting on how we can contribute to making our environment healthier, cleaner, safer, and more resilient — for our benefit, and for that of generations to come.