For over 25 years, the Organization of American States (OAS) has helped member states incorporate environmental considerations into development projects. The biggest boost for the OAS' environmental efforts came at the 1996 Summit of the Americas on Sustainable Development, held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The Santa Cruz Declaration and Plan of Action gave the OAS a strong mandate to coordinate follow-up to those decisions.
The United States Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States is integrally involved in projects and activities in the sustainable development sector. The U.S. Missions works closely in this field with the OAS Department of Sustainable Development (DSD), which supports OAS Member States in the design and implementation of policies, programs and projects for sustainable development. The Mission recognizes the value of the DSD; numerous other international development institutions have also recognized the organization’s in-house expertise and leadership role. The divisions of the Department comprise five general thematic areas:
- energy and climate change;
- natural hazard risk management;
- integrated water resources management;
- biological diversity; and,
- environmental law and policy.
In 2007, the U.S. and Brazil signed the U.S.-Brazil Biofuels Cooperation. Under this Cooperation, the U.S. and Brazil, with the assistance of DSD, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the UN Foundation, are working closely to undertake development assistance to third party countries with the interest and suitability to develop local biofuels industries for domestic consumption. Development assistance activities range from technical assistance and feasibility studies to human and institutional capacity building and outreach. The Cooperation is strongly supported by the U.S. Mission and the United States Government provides significant funding for the project.
At the OAS General Assembly in Panama in 2007, the GA examined the theme of energy in sustainable development. As a result, the Organization issued the Declaration of Panama: Energy for Sustainable Development (PDF 2 MB). In line with supporting this declaration, the United States decided, in collaboration with DSD, to fund four regional energy workshops in the area of energy and climate change. These workshops were conducted in Chile, the Bahamas, El Salvador, and Peru and took place in 2008 and 2009. The workshops addressed sustainable energy development appropriate to the different regions and facilitated the exchange of best practices as part of the implementation of the 2007 Declaration.
The U.S. Mission is also currently assisting in work to further the 2005 Environmental Cooperation Agreement agreed to by CAFTA-DR parties Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the United States. The OAS Department of Sustainable Development (DSD) along with the U.C. Mission and other Member States is currently implementing monitoring and evaluation of cooperative activities under the agreement’s work plan. The monitoring and evaluation is important for the achievement of the long-term goals established in the work plan, and also satisfies the U.S. Congress’ review of progress made in the area of trade and environmental cooperation.
Disaster Relief & American Biodiversity
USOAS also collaborates on the regional implementaion of strategies and frameworks for natural diaster risk relief, such as the Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction of the Hyogo Framework for Action (PDF 135 KB).
The U.S. Mission similarly facilitates the U.S. Geological Survey's involvement with the Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network, a hemispheric forum hosted by DSD for information exchange and use on biodiversity.
In the field of sustainable development, the U.S. Mission is proud to cooperate with several U.S. governmental agencies. These agencies include the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans, Environment, and Science and other stakeholders in environmental and sustainable development policy discussions.
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