Tagged: Ecology

East Asia and the Pacific: Extraordinary Meeting of the Friends of the Lower Mekong

On February 2, Counselor Tom Shannon and Senior Advisor to the Secretary Ambassador David Thorne led a U.S. delegation to the Extraordinary Meeting of the Friends of the Lower Mekong in Pakse, Laos. The Friends of the Lower Mekong, a donor coordination group, came together with the countries of the Lower Mekong to discuss the connection between water resources, energy needs and food security. Accompanying Counselor Shannon and Ambassador Thorne were representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy.

The health of the Mekong River is essential to the economic growth and sustainable development of the region. In Cambodia, the Mekong supports the rich biodiversity of a watershed that provides more than 60% of the protein intake for the entire country. The river irrigates the “rice bowl” in Vietnam, where more than half of the nation’s rice production is concentrated in the provinces that make up the Mekong delta. In Laos, Thailand, and Burma, the Mekong is an important artery for transportation, a water source for aquaculture and agriculture, and a generator of electricity.

Meeting participants discussed the challenges of ensuring a future in which economic growth does not come at the expense of clean air, clean water and healthy ecosystems. The meeting brought together senior officials from Laos, Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam alongside representatives from the United States, the Mekong River Commission, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the European Union, and the governments of Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

At the meeting, the U.S. delegation announced several new initiatives, including the launch of USAID’s Sustainable Mekong Energy Initiative (SMEI). Through the SMEI, the United Stateswill promote the use of alternative energy and low-emission technologies. The delegation also announced that the Department of State will organize and send a Sustainable Energy Business Delegation to the region later this year.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will provide technical assistance on hydropower management. In conjunction, Counselor Shannon and Ambassador Thorne announced that the State Department will contribute $500,000 in support of a Mekong River study on the impacts of hydropower on the community and environment.

The Friends of the Lower Mekong will also work together to strengthen the capacity of Lower Mekong countries to more effectively implement social and environmental safeguards such as environmental impact assessments and strategic environmental analyses. The U.S. government, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, Japanese International Cooperation Agency and the Government of Australia plan to jointly develop a Regional Impact Assessment Training Center at the Asian Institute of Technology Center in Vietnam.

Under the auspices of the Lower Mekong Initiative the United States is continuing successful projects like Smart Infrastructure for the Mekong (SIM) to provide technical assistance to the region on land and water use management, renewable energy, and infrastructure development. $1.5 million will be spent on SIM projects in the Mekong region this year.

STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY LT. GEN. SERETSE KHAMA IAN KHAMA,

STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY LT. GEN. SERET…

13/11/14

1. Madam Speaker, before we begin may I request that we observe a moment of silence for those of our citizens who have departed from us during the past year. Thank you. 2. Honourable Members, it is my pleasure to once more present an updated assessment of how Government intends to move Botswana forward by seizing opportunities to secure our future. 3. As this is the first session of the 11th Parliament, let me preface my remarks by welcoming the newly elected members of this Assembly. Let me further congratulate you Madam Speaker on your own election.

STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY LT. GEN. SERETSE KHAMA IAN KHAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF BOTSWANA, TO THE FIRST SESSION OF THE ELEVENTH PARLIAMENT – “MOVING BOTSWANA FORWARD”

 

INTRODUCTION

 

1. Madam Speaker, before we begin may I request that we observe a moment of silence for those of our citizens who have departed from us during the past year. Thank you.

 

2. Honourable Members, it is my pleasure to once more present an updated assessment of how Government intends to move Botswana forward by seizing opportunities to secure our future.

 

3. As this is the first session of the 11th Parliament, let me preface my remarks by welcoming the newly elected members of this Assembly.  Let me further congratulate you Madam Speaker on your own election.

 

4. Today’s gathering is an outcome of our 11th consecutive general election. As is our tradition, the ballot was conducted in a peaceful, free and fair manner. For this we can once more thank Batswana in general, as well as the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and other individuals and organisations that helped to ensure the poll’s success.

 

5. In any democracy elections are the means to the greater end of forming a Government capable of translating the popular will into public service delivery. We who have the honour of sitting in this House are accountable to the hundreds of thousands who entrusted us with their votes. Although divided in their choices, the voters were united by a shared desire for a better future. It is, therefore, our responsibility to ensure that together we deliver that future by at all times putting the national interest before our own.

 

6. Last month my party, the Botswana Democratic Party, was re‐elected on the basis of a detailed manifesto that promised to secure our common future by building on our past achievements. Today, before this House I reaffirm our commitment to honour that pledge.

 

7. In as much as we recognise that a government of and by the people is not an event but a process; this administration shall continue to engage Batswana across the country about their concerns through various fora and media, from the venerable realm of dikgotla to the digital world of interactive online communication. It was as a result of wide-ranging consultation that our manifesto was predicated on what we understood to be our citizens’ core aspirations. These include achieving:

 

• Job creation for sustainable livelihoods and income generation;

• Food security through continued agricultural renewal;

• Expanded access to land and housing ownership;

• Access to world-class quality education that caters to current and future needs;

• Citizen, including youth, economic empowerment;

• Dignity for all through the eradication of poverty;

• Zero tolerance for corruption in all of its manifestations;

• Elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV; and

• Government reform that leverages on the application of new technologies. 

 

8. Each of these commitments is based on realistic analysis of where our country is and needs to go in order to meet the reasonable expectations of its people, while improving our global standing in an ever more competitive world. Taken together they are consistent with our broader vision of achieving inclusive sustainable development that upholds the dignity of all.

 

ECONOMIC OUTLOOK

 

9. Madam Speaker, owing to the prudent economic and financial management by my Government, the country was able to survive the 2008/09 global financial crisis and economic recession with minimum impact on the domestic economy. We were able to save jobs in both the public service and private sector, as well as continued to provide essential public services to our people.

 

10. Having successfully weathered the storm of the economic downturn, we can look forward to better days ahead, with economic growth buttressed by reduced inflation. These positive trends should allow us to revive some of our postponed projects, along with outstanding issues affecting the conditions of service among public employees. Our optimism is in part based on forecasts of continued, albeit still fragile, global economic recovery, with worldwide output projected to grow by 3.3% in 2014 and 3.8% in 2015.

 

11. Turning to the domestic economy, the gross domestic product (GDP) at current prices stood at P124 billion in 2013 and it is projected to expand to P136.5 billion in 2014. In real terms, the GDP grew by 5.8% in 2013, and is projected to grow by 5.2% in the current year, driven by both the mining and non-mining sectors.   Within the non-mining sector, retail and hospitality industries, as well as agriculture are experiencing growth.

 

12. Average national inflation continued to decline from 8.5% in 2011 to 7.5% in 2012 to 5.9% in 2013 and further to 4.5% in September 2014, which is well within the Bank of Botswana objective range of 3 to 6%. This positive trend gives us confidence in our ability to maintain a low inflation environment, which is necessary for domestic enterprises to compete in the global market.

 

13. In terms of our fiscal management, Government succeeded in restoring a balanced budget during 2012/13 financial year, after four years of budget deficits. For the 2013/14 financial year we were able to collect P 48.9 billion, up from the P 41.7 billion received in 2012/13, while total expenditures and net lending for 2013/14 amounted to P 41.73 billion. This resulted in a budget surplus of P7.2 billion, largely due to the good performance of the mineral sector. For 2014/15 a budget surplus of P1.3 billion is currently projected. These savings will allow us to reduce our debt burden and rebuild our financial reserves.

 

14. To sustain a positive balance sheet will, however, require expanded revenues. Here I can report that we were able to collect P48.9 billion in the 2013-14 financial year, up from the P41.7 billion received in 2012-13. The 2013/14 outturn for expenditure and net lending was P41.7 billion.

 

EMPLOYMENT

 

15.  Madam Speaker, to be meaningful to Batswana, economic growth has to be accompanied by expanded employment, which is why our manifesto listed job creation at the top of our aspirations. To reiterate what I said in my own message to the voters, of all our campaign promises tackling unemployment is the most important one. While there has been some progress in recent years, current estimates put unemployment among those 18 and above at just over 17%. Although this reflects a modest reduction since 2007, it has been insufficient to absorb all those seeking employment, especially among our talented youth. We can and shall do more.

 

16. Our Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) is a key instrument for job creation. Since its 2010 inception, EDD has been facilitating employment generating business opportunities by promoting the consumption of local products. While our immediate focus has been leveraging public procurement in support of domestic industries, as we move forward our emphasis will shift to developing greater internal capacity for export-led growth, while continuing to value local goods and services.

 

17.  So far a total of P13.3 billion worth of goods and services were recorded since the inception of the initiative. Out of this figure, the value of local manufacturers and service providers (EDD purchases) amounted to P590.5 million for 2010/2011, P1.8 billion for 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 and P2.3 billion for 2013/2014. Over one thousand enterprises have so far been registered under the EDD Programme, which has contributed to the employment of 28,000 Batswana.

 

18. We have already begun implementing our EDD Medium to Long Term Strategy, to develop sustainable sectors for economic growth and diversification. A leading example is the Leather Sub-sector Strategy, which is focused on the establishment of a Leather Park in Lobatse at a total cost of about P225 million. Government has agreed to finance the park’s primary infrastructure, a Common Effluent Treatment Plant, estimated to cost P102 million, while other components of the project will be financed through private sector investment.

 

19. Government had also budgeted over P20 million to provide temporary assistance for over 12 months to support 34 textile companies, employing 2,912 workers.

 

20. While the nurturing of SMMEs, support for existing industries and value addition remain critical in our achievement of job creation, we further anticipate that over the next few years local formal sector employment will be generated with the emergence of new economic opportunities through the synergies generated by the development growth nodes or clusters across the country.

 

21. In the Chobe region, for example, we anticipate an expansion of opportunities in tourism, construction, transport services and agriculture resulting from the construction of the road and rail bridge at Kazangula and phase one of the water pipeline to Pandamatenga, along with associated infrastructure. It is estimated that when completed these two mega-projects will create over 9000 permanent jobs.

 

22. Additional emerging labour intensive opportunities are already being generated in our urban areas, as reflected in Selebi-Phikwe’s development as a metallurgical hub, the continued growth of Gaborone as a global diamond as well as regional technical services centre, and Francistown’s growth as a nexus for trade and transport. We further anticipate additional jobs through synergies generated by new mining activities, the continued expansion of commercial agriculture and the development of Trans-Kgalagadi road and potential rail corridor.

 

COMPETITIVENESS    

 

23. A key to unlocking these job creation opportunities will be increasing our global competitiveness. To improve our competitiveness ranking in the area of goods market efficiency we have tightened our market monitoring for greater efficiency in the provision of goods and services, while the Competition Authority is reviewing mergers and potential cartel activity involving both local and foreign companies.

 

24. Madam Speaker, job creation is inevitably linked to investment. In this respect the latest FDI Intelligence report indicates that Global Greenfield FDI showed signs of recovery, increasing by an estimated 11% from 2012 to 2013. The increase in local investment has been even greater, with UNCTAD’s 2014 World Investment report showing Botswana having grown by 27% in 2013.

 

25.  The Botswana International Trade Centre (BITC) continues to promote our country as a competitive location for investment, making business contacts and generating leads. During the 2013-2014 financial year, BITC helped realise a total combined investment capital of just over 1 billion pula, of which P 642 million was from foreign direct investment (FDI) and P449 million came from new domestic investments. In 2012/13, BITC further recorded P1.9 billion worth of goods and services exported into the region and beyond, of which P738 million was attributable to financial and international business services by the financial services cluster.

 

26. Botswana was ranked number one in the 2014 Baseline Profitability Index, surpassing Hong Kong as a location for medium to long term returns on investment. In essence the Index suggests that investors can expect to do well here once they have established themselves in our market.

 

27. Government is, furthermore, working to limit the number of licenses and permits, while allowing mixed land use zoning, adopting risk based approach for Environmental Impact Assessments and Management Plans, and decentralising the management of electricity connections.

 

28.  Government has also embarked on a National Work Ethic programme to promote productivity. So far, 254 facilitators have been assessed to implement the programme, which commenced in May 2014.

 

29. The drafting of a Bill which will provide the legal framework for the establishment of Special Economic Zones and the Special Economic Zone Authority is being finalized.

 

30. The Rural Development Council (RDC) has been upgraded as the national consultative body to promote and coordinate the implementation of rural development policies and programmes. As a result community based projects such as the Zutshwa Salt Project and the Mogobane Irrigation Scheme, to mention some, have been resuscitated.

 

CITIZEN EMPOWERMENT

 

31. Madam Speaker, it is pleasing to note that to date, CEDA has funded 5,462 enterprises with a total value of nearly P8.55 billion, in the process creating over 48,935 thousand jobs.  During the 2013/14 financial year, CEDA assisted 151 new enterprises with a total monetary value of P152 million, collectively generating 1042 new jobs.

 

32. Since its inception, LEA has also facilitated the creation of 4995 new jobs, including 568 in the ongoing financial year. The Authority has further trained a total of 9,317 entrepreneurs. In an effort to inculcate an entrepreneurial culture, LEA embarked upon the Entrepreneurship Awareness Workshops among secondary school leavers, vocational trainees and prison inmates; over 26,000 of whom have been trained.

 

33. Madam Speaker, through the Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS), we have encouraged our small and medium enterprises to implement quality assurance activities within their businesses. Progress has been made in certification of goods especially in the building and construction industry. To further ensure that prescribed goods entering our borders comply with domestic standards, a BOBS office has been opened at the Tlokweng Border.

 

RULE OF LAW

 

34. Madam Speaker, adherence to the rule of law remains a cornerstone to our national development. It is thus encouraging that independent comparative surveys, as well as domestic polling, consistently place us among the best in the world as well as first in Africa in terms of our upholding the rule of law while ensuring the safety and security of all our citizens. These surveys include:

 

• 2014 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, where we ranked first in the category of safety and security;

• World Justice Project’s 2014 Rule of Law Index, where we were ranked 25th in the world as well as first in Africa;

• 2014 Global Peace Index where we were at 36th place, ranking above half of European countries surveyed;

• 2014 Legatum Index for Governance and Rule of Law, where we were ranked 28th in the world; and

• 2013 Global Democracy Index, where besides ranking 35 out of 167 countries we achieved a near perfect score in the area of civil liberties.

 

35.  In light of such reputable findings it is unfortunate to say the least that some individuals, working through foreign as well as domestic media, including rumour mongering on social media, have attempted to instil the perception of Batswana living in fear. This is in an apparent effort to undermine this country’s longstanding and shared record of peace, order and good Government.

 

36. While the mass circulation of false and malicious reports intended to incite undue alarm may be aimed at promoting the political agenda of some, it is at the collective cost of tarnishing the image of the country as a whole. It is also a threat to the economy we all must depend upon for our livelihoods. Such disinformation should therefore be rejected with contempt by all peace-loving Batswana. All citizens, residents and potential visitors to Botswana can be confident that this Government will continue to both abide and uphold the rule of law without fear or favour.

 

37. Let me, nonetheless, also observe that we have not, and shall not, allow past achievements or international accolades to breed complacency as we recognise that, here as elsewhere, criminal activity is constantly evolving and increasingly sophisticated. We therefore remain determined to pursue a zero tolerance approach to all forms of criminal activity, including corruption.

 

38. To counter emerging domestic and trans-national challenges the Police Service has deployed integrated law enforcement strategies to combat all forms of criminality and anti-social behaviour. This has involved an ongoing redirection of resources to deal with violent and intrusive, cross border and cyber based criminal activities.

 

39. Whilst total recorded crime excluding road traffic violations rose by 4.7% during the year 2013, significant reductions were, however, registered in respect of violent and intrusive crimes.  Offences in this category, which included burglary, store breaking, robbery, house breaking, threats to kill, murder, rape, motor vehicle and stock theft, declined by 15.4%.

 

40. Road traffic management poses an additional policing challenge. Analysis of road accidents shows a youth bias, expressed in reckless driving, often aggravated by the influence of alcohol. As a result of the increase in the intensity of road policing initiatives, the number of detected road traffic offences rose by 32.4%, while there was a corresponding decrease in the number of fatal road accidents by 2.6%.

 

41. Madam Speaker, the Department of Prisons and Rehabilitation continues to improve security in the prisons and rehabilitation of offenders. While overcrowding has been a problem in some of the Prison institutions, there has been substantial reduction in congestion since 2008. In June 2014 there were 3824 offenders held in prisons, which was 13% below the authorised holding capacity.

 

42. Madam Speaker, the internal and external challenges of today’s constantly changing security landscape, call for a structurally aligned, strategically focused and adequately resourced, as well as highly trained and motivated, defence force. The BDF will thus continue to evolve its structures and strategies to defend the nation, while continuing to provide assistance to other law enforcement agencies in combating crime, including poaching.

 

ACCESS TO JUSTICE

 

43. Madam Speaker, as was most recently demonstrated in the Judgments of the High Court and the Court of Appeal upholding the constitutionality of the Standing Orders of this very House, our Judiciary continues to independently and effectively deliver on its constitutional mandate of settling disputes, both large and small, without fear or favour.  This Government will, as always, respect decisions of the Courts and expects all citizens to do the same.  Equally, we must all display tolerance and recognize everyone’s right to approach the Courts for the resolution of any legal issue no matter how strongly we may disagree.

 

44. To improve everyday access to justice several special court projects like the stock theft, maintenance, traffic, small claims and most recently corruption court have been put in place so as to speed up and improve the case disposal rates, while promoting greater access to justice by simplifying court rules and processes to make them more user friendly.  In addition a Court Annexed Mediation will be in place by the end of the current financial year.  This f

New global tourism initiative to ‘steer industry onto a truly sustainable path’ – UN

6 November 2014 – Tourism is one of the largest and fastest-growing economic sectors in the world contributing 9 per cent to global GDP, accounting for one in 11 jobs worldwide and for 6 per cent of global exports, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reported today as it launched a programme aiming to catalyze a shift to more sustainable tourism.

The Sustainable Tourism Programme of the Ten-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP) introduced at the World Travel Market in London this week will be spearheaded by the UNWTO, the Governments of France, Morocco and the Republic of Korea, with the support of UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

“This important initiative is about steering the industry onto a truly sustainable path — one that echoes to the challenge of our time: namely the fostering of a global Green Economy that thrives on the interest, rather than the capital,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner in a statement .

It is estimated that by 2030, there will be 1.8 billion international tourism arrivals annually. If not sustainably managed, tourism can deplete natural resources leading to water shortages, loss of biodiversity, land degradation and contribute to climate change and pollution. Tourism’s contribution to global warming is estimated at 5 per cent of global CO2 emissions.

“As tourism continues to grow, so too will the pressures on the environment and wildlife. Without proper management and protection, as well as investments in greening the sector, ecosystems and thousands of magnificent species will suffer,” Mr. Steiner said.

UNEP’s 2011 Green Economy Report revealed that under a “business-as-usual” scenario, projected tourism growth rates to 2050 will result in increases in energy consumption by 154 per cent, greenhouse gas emissions by 131 per cent, water consumption by 152 per cent, and solid waste disposal by 251 per cent.

UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said, “As the leading organization for tourism, the World Tourism Organization seeks to maximize tourism’s contribution to development while minimizing its negative impacts.”

Already, in the Galapagos Islands and Palau, visitors pay an entry tax to protected areas, which are sometimes referred to as ‘green fees.’ The revenues generated from these fees – which in Palau’s case is $1.3 million annually since 2009 – are used to support conservation and sustainable human development.

The 10YFP Sustainable Tourism Programme will aim to achieve major shifts in tourism policies and stimulate greater sustainability within the tourism supply chain. A collaborative initiative, the programme aims to improve resource efficiency, management effectiveness, and the use of new technologies to promote sustainable consumption and production patterns in this key sector.

Meanwhile, the three countries leading the initiative have already taken steps to promote sustainable tourism. As the most visited tourism destination in the world receiving 85 million tourists a year, France recognizes sustainable tourism as fundamental to preserving its heritage.

And Morocco is hoping to capitalize on its natural and cultural advantages in a way that will yield the most sustainable social and economic benefits to all Moroccans. The Government of the Republic of Korea has already integrated principles of sustainability into its tourism policies and is accelerating programme implementation nationally.

The 10YFP was established after Heads of State, meeting at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) conference in 2012, agreed that sustainable consumption production was a cornerstone of development, and an important contributor to poverty alleviation and the transition to low-carbon green economies.

Statement by Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for Environment, on the outcome of Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP12)

European Commission

Statement

Brussels, 17 October 2014

Statement by Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for Environment, on the outcome of Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP12)

The European Commission welcomes the successful outcome of CBD COP12 and in particular the agreement reached on 2020 targets for the mobilisation of resources in support of biodiversity. The agreement reaffirms the political commitment made at COP11 in Hyderabad, India, to double international biodiversity-related resource flows to developing countries by 2015. This is a very ambitious target supporting the implementation of the Global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and the achievement of the Aichi targets. The EU is fully delivering on these commitments. The 2014 EU accountability report on finance for development, published in July, indicates that biodiversity-related finance from the EU and its Member States to developing countries increased significantly between the period 2006-2010, when we spent an average of about €190 million, and 2012, when we contributed €289 million. This figure is estimated to go up to €300 million in 2013. Altogether, this puts us on a good track to achieve the Hyderabad target by 2015.

The agreement also introduces a specific target on the mobilisation of domestic financial resources, in recognition of the fundamental importance of national prioritisation of biodiversity policy. This is a major achievement, emphasising the need for policy coherence and mainstreaming at domestic level to deliver on the Aichi targets.

COP12 also reviewed progress towards the achievement of the Aichi targets and adopted a number of important decisions, which together comprise the so-called ‘Pyeongchang Roadmap’. Among others, these relate to marine biodiversity, invasive alien species, climate change and biodiversity, ecosystem conservation and restoration, synthetic biology, and biodiversity and sustainable development. The Global Biodiversity Outlook 4 (GBO4), released at COP12, suggests that while the Aichi Biodiversity Targets are still within our reach, substantially greater efforts are required. More specifically, the global target for protected areas coverage is well on track, with 15,4% of terrestrial and 8,4% of the marine environment now protected for nature. The European Union’s Natura 2000 network of protected sites, covering over 18% of EU territory and over 4% of its marine area is contributing towards the global target.

The European Commission also welcomes the successful conclusion of the first Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing. This landmark treaty entered into force on 12 October 2014. The meeting focused on issues essential for the effective implementation and operationalisation of the Protocol.

Finally, the EC welcomes the adoption of the Gangwon Declaration on Biodiversity for Sustainable Development, in which the 194 Parties to the CBD underscore the importance of integrating and mainstreaming biodiversity into the post-2015 development cooperation agenda, including the future Sustainable Development Goals.

I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the government of the Republic of Korea for hosting the conference and having helped steer it towards a successful conclusion.  

Contacts for the press:

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For the public: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e­mail

UN CALLING ASIA: Indigenous communities “oldest conservationists”

9 Oct 2014

Listen /

montage of indigenous peoples. UN Photo

Indigenous people are the oldest conservationists in the world, according to a consortium of indigenous groups known by the acronym, ICCA. An international meeting on biodiversity is currently underway in Korea, which is considering how knowledge and traditional practices of local communities are key to halting the loss of natural resources. Ashish Kothari is from the Indian environmental organization Kalpavriksh and the ICCA.  The Consortium has released a report on how indigenous peoples can contribute to saving the world’s biodiversity through the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Florencia Soto Nino asked Mr Kothari about this contribution.

Afghanistan facing “intense moment”

Nicholas Haysom. Photo: Fardin Waezi/UNAMA

Afghanistan is facing an “intense moment” as it transitions towards a politically stable and prosperous country. That’s according to a senior United Nations representative in the country. Afghanistan has just emerged from a protracted and disputed presidential election. A national unity government was formed in September. Setyo Budi has been speaking to Nicholas Haysom, the UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan. He began by asking Mr Haysom about the current political situation.

South Asia not immune to “global learning crisis”

A teacher and student at a school in India. Photo: UNESCO/GMR Akash

Millions of children in South Asia don’t get the education that gives them the fundamental skills to read, write and count, according to a paper released by the UN cultural agency (UNESCO). The paper was released on the occasion of World Teachers Day which is observed on 5 October each year to put a spotlight on the important role of teachers. According to UNESCO, because of a shortage of qualified teachers, some countries won’t be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015. Nihan Koseleci, a Research Officer for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report told Derrick Mbatha that the shortage of trained teachers in South Asia should be seen in the context of what she called the global “learning crisis.”

Presenter: Jocelyne Sambira
Production Assistant: Sandra Guy
Duration: 10’00″

Indigenous communities “oldest conservationists”

7 Oct 2014

Listen /

montage of indigenous peoples. UN Photo

Indigenous people are the oldest conservationists in the world, according to a consortium of indigenous groups known by the acronym, ICCA.
An international meeting on biodiversity is cur…

Presidential Determination — Foreign Governments’ Efforts Regarding Trafficking in Persons

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

September 18, 2014

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE

SUBJECT:     Presidential Determination with Respect to

                       Foreign Governments’ Efforts Regarding

                       Trafficking in Persons

 

Consistent with section 110 of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (Division A of Public Law 106-386) (the “Act”), I hereby: 

Make the determination provided in section 110(d)(1)(A)(i) of the Act, with respect to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe, not to provide certain funding for those countries’ governments for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, until such governments comply with the minimum standards or make significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance, as may be determined by the Secretary of State in a report to the Congress pursuant to section 110(b) of the Act; 

Make the determination provided in section 110(d)(1)(A)(ii) of the Act, with respect to Cuba, Eritrea, and Syria, not to provide certain funding for those countries’ governments for FY 2015, until such governments comply with the minimum standards or make significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance, as may be determined by the Secretary of State in a report to the Congress pursuant to section 110(b) of the Act; 

Determine, consistent with section 110(d)(4) of the Act, with respect to Algeria, the Central African Republic, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Yemen, that provision to these countries’ governments of all programs, projects, or activities described in sections 110(d)(1)(A)(i)-(ii) and 110(d)(1)(B) of the Act would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States;

Determine, consistent with section 110(d)(4) of the Act, with respect to the DRC, that provision of assistance and programs described in section 110(d)(1)(A)(i) and 110(d)(1)(B) of the

Act, with the exception of Foreign Military Sales and Foreign Military Financing for the army of the DRC, would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States;

Determine, consistent with section 110(d)(4) of the Act, with respect to the DRC, that a partial waiver to allow funding for programs to be provided pursuant to section 1208 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2014 (Public Law 113-66), to the extent that such programs would otherwise be restricted by the Act, would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States;

Determine, consistent with section 110(d)(4) of the Act, with respect to Venezuela, that a partial waiver to allow funding for programs described in section 110(d)(1)(A)(i) of the Act designed to strengthen the democratic process in Venezuela would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States;

Determine, consistent with section 110(d)(4) of the Act, with respect to Cuba, Syria, and Eritrea, that a partial waiver to allow funding for educational and cultural exchange programs described in section 110(d)(1)(A)(ii) of the Act would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States;

Determine, consistent with section 110(d)(4) of the Act, with respect to Equatorial Guinea, that a partial waiver to allow funding described in section 110(d)(1)(A)(i) of the Act to advance sustainable natural resource management and biodiversity and to support the participation of government employees or officials in young leader programming would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States; Determine, consistent with section 110(d)(4) of the Act, with respect to Syria and Equatorial Guinea, that assistance described in section 110(d)(1)(B) of the Act would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States;

Determine, consistent with section 110(d)(4) of the Act, with respect to Zimbabwe, that a partial waiver to allow funding for programs described in section 110(d)(1)(A)(i) of the Act for assistance for victims of trafficking in persons or to combat such trafficking, programs to support the promotion of health, good governance, education, leadership, agriculture and food security, poverty reduction, livelihoods, family planning, macroeconomic growth including anti-corruption, biodiversity and wildlife protection, and programs that would have a significant adverse effect on vulnerable populations if suspended, would promote the purposes of the Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States;

And determine, consistent with section 110(d)(4) of the Act, with respect to Zimbabwe, that assistance described in section 110(d)(1)(B) of the Act, which:

  1. is a regional program, project, or activity under which the total benefit to Zimbabwe does not exceed 10 percent of the total value of such program, project, or activity; 

  2. has as its primary objective the addressing of basic human needs, as defined by the Department of the Treasury with respect to other, existing legislative provision concerning U.S. participation in the multilateral development banks;

  3. is complementary to or has similar policy objectives to programs being implemented bilaterally by the

United States Government;

  1. has as its primary objective the improvement of

Zimbabwe’s legal system, including in areas that impact

Zimbabwe’s ability to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases or otherwise improve implementation of its antitrafficking policy, regulations, or legislation; 

  1. is engaging a government, international organization, or civil society organization, and seeks as its primary objective(s) to:  (a) increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking in persons crimes; (b) increase protection for victims of trafficking through better screening, identification, rescue/removal, aftercare

(shelter, counseling), training, and reintegration; or (c) expand prevention efforts through education and awareness campaigns highlighting the dangers of trafficking in persons or training and economic empowerment of populations clearly at risk of falling victim to trafficking; or 

  1. is targeted macroeconomic assistance from the International Monetary Fund that strengthens the macroeconomic management capacity of Zimbabwe, would promote the purposes of the Act, or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States.

The certification required by section 110(e) of the Act is provided herewith.

You are hereby authorized and directed to submit this determination to the Congress, and to publish it in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA

Secretary’s Travel to China

MODERATOR: Hello, everybody. So thanks – sorry to interrupt your rest, but we have an opportunity to do a discussion here with two Senior Administration Officials. First I’ll introduce them and then we’ll switch to the generic Senior Administration Officials. We have [Senior Administration Official One] and we have [Senior Administration Official Two]. So they will henceforth be Senior Administration Officials One and Two, and this discussion will be on background. And they’re here to talk about areas of focus for the Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

So I’ll hand the microphone over and we can get started.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Great. Thanks, [Moderator]. Hello, everybody. Let me start with just some very basic facts about what we’re doing in Beijing. This will be the sixth session of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue. It’s co-chaired on the U.S. side by Secretary Kerry and Secretary Lew and on the Chinese side by Vice Premier Wang and State Councilor Yang, Yang Jiechi.

The S&ED meetings are preceded by a meeting of the Strategic Security Dialogue, the SSD, which is meeting this year for the fourth time and is chaired on the U.S. side by Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and on the Chinese side by Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui. This is a dialogue, a regular dialogue that brings together both civilian and uniformed military officials from each side and is valuable in that respect.

And then lastly, Secretary Kerry will participate in the fifth session of the Comprehensive High-Level Dialogue on People-to-People Exchanges, called the CPE. In these meetings, his counterpart is Vice Premier Liu Yandong, and this is a forum to promote educational, scientific, and other forms of exchange across a number of areas of common interest.

The S&ED itself begins Tuesday night with an informal dinner between the – on the strategic track between Secretary Kerry and State Councilor Yang. There’s a separate event on the economic track. The following day, on Wednesday morning, there will be a joint session – first the opening of the S&ED with statements from both sides followed by a joint session to discuss climate change. This is an innovation begun last year that allows both the strategic and the economic officials to sit together in a small, high-level group for a very practical, open, and direct dialogue.

There’s a joint luncheon that brings together both the strategic and the economic track, and then the two tracks separate. The strategic side with Secretary Kerry and State Councilor Yang will have a series of meetings, and that will culminate in a working dinner that evening in which they cover the range of bilateral, regional, and global issues.

On Thursday morning, the schedule has both Secretary Kerry and Lew participating in a roundtable with Chinese and U.S. CEOs, and of course, the Chinese Government counterparts. There will be a plenary session and it brings together all of the various mid-level officials who are working throughout the year in the context of the S&ED, and that will be followed by a meeting and a working lunch between Secretary Kerry and Vice Premier Liu for the CPE High-Level Dialogue on People-to-People. And finally, the Secretaries will call on the Chinese leadership at the end of the day.

We expect that as is normally the case, at the end of the S&ED the four representatives will meet with the press and make statements, and that the two sides will issue an outcomes document summarizing the work that has gotten done through the course of the year and through the course of these meetings.

I think one other point of context I would make is that this is in the – the S&ED takes places in the context of a considerable number of high-level engagements between the U.S. and China – the President, of course, the Vice President, various cabinet secretaries who travel or who meet with their counterparts at multilateral fora. But the S&ED is the central, integrated mechanism that allows us to pursue a wide range of agenda items throughout the year, and the S&ED meetings themselves allow us to take stock as to what we have accomplished as well as to set goals for the future. It’s a very important mechanism for coordination and for enhancing cooperation as well.

In terms of the areas of focus, I just ticked through a few. High on the agenda is climate, the environment, on the energy — and energy. This is a priority for both countries and we’re looking for ways that we can expand cooperation, including through our bilateral partnerships on eco-friendly development and on issues such as wildlife trafficking.

We have the people-to-people and consular-related issues that I’ve mentioned, how we can expand educational exchange, business exchange, tourism. We have a range of regional issues both within the Asia Pacific and without.

More broadly, we have international global issues like Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, where the U.S. and China in many respects cooperate and certainly where there’s value in close consultations. Within the region itself, of course, high on the agenda remains the challenge of denuclearizing North Korea, and particularly in the wake of President Xi’s recent visit to Seoul we see value in building out U.S.-China cooperation, strengthening our consensus on the importance of denuclearization, and refining further our strategy for getting there.

We will also undoubtedly discuss the issues relating to maritime security and maritime disputes in the region. Secretary Kerry will make our views clear regarding our concerns over the rise of tensions and problematic behavior, particularly in the South China Sea. We will continue to emphasize the importance that we place on peaceful diplomacy and adherence to international norms and law.

On the bilateral front, we’ve got quite a few programs to discuss. We have issues of concern such as cyber, particularly the use of cyber techniques to obtain economic information that’s then transferred and commercialized by Chinese state-owned enterprises. More broadly, we share a common interest in cooperation on cyber writ large, and that will be an area of discussion as we encourage China to utilize the mechanism – the bilateral mechanism available to us, namely the cyber working group.

Secretary Kerry, as he always does – as senior U.S. officials always do – will raise human rights and describe our concerns, talk through our perceptions on universal human rights and the importance of supporting a rules-based international system. We believe that adherence to basic human rights principles is one key to the stability and the prosperity that we want to see in China, and here too we will encourage China to resume the suspended human rights dialogue between the two sides. Secretary Kerry is accompanied by Under Secretary of State Sarah Sewall, who has in her portfolio not only human rights, but also a number of other issues of importance to the Chinese side, including law enforcement and counterterrorism.

The only other comment I would make about the S&ED and the strategic track is that my own experience, having participated for a number of years, initially in a former job and now in my current job – I find that each go around, the interlocutors improve their ability to speak candidly and constructively, and in an – on an informal basis. And so I expect this to be very substantive, and hope it will be also a very productive two-plus days.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Thanks, [Senior Administration Official One]. Let me make a few comments to provide a strategic contact – context for this sixth S&ED.

2014 is a very important year in the U.S.-China relationship. It’s the 35th anniversary of the founding of the relationship. And so as a relationship that’s three and a half decades old, if it’s anything, it’s a deep, it’s a broad, and it’s a very resilient relationship. And all of those aspects of the relationship we built are going to be on display at the S&ED. My State Department colleague outlined the breadth of the issues that are going to be addressed; he outlined the depth of participation on both sides. And so that should give you a sense of, when we talk about an enduring relationship, one in which there – the agenda is large, there’s a lot of contact, there’s a lot of discussion going on.

And that’s going to be important for this year’s S&ED, because the S&ED this year comes at an important but also very complex and even difficult period in the U.S.-China relationship. The first six months of this year there were a variety of issues on the U.S.-China agenda that were complex for both sides to deal with, whether it was the President meeting with the Dalai Lama earlier; our differences over maritime issues; our differences over cybersecurity issues; the fact that we’re still working towards an agreement on how to best address the North Korea nuclear issue – all of these issues are going to be addressed by the U.S. delegation during this S&ED, and it’s – it will be an important opportunity to try and find greater areas of agreement.

The U.S.-China relationship is always one of trying to constantly balance areas of cooperation, encouraging China to do more as its capabilities and influence expand, but also competition. In other words, in areas where we disagree, making sure that the U.S. is firm about its values and its interests; the U.S. is clear about its broader regional strategy, including the importance of our allies and partners in the region. And as we try and strike that balance between cooperation and competition, we want the U.S.-China relationship to become more stable, to become more dynamic, and ultimately solve bilateral, regional, and global problems.

So why don’t I stop there and open it up for your questions.

MODERATOR: Great. We’ll – got time for questions. We’ll pass the mike. John.

QUESTION: Hi. I was wondering – you said the relationship was complex, but can you just explain at what stage you are in the discussion on cybersecurity? As far as I understood it last, the Chinese did not want to discuss it, that the talks and the working group on cybersecurity had been suspended. Is this something you’re going to raise with them, and how are you going to tackle it as far as moving this message forward in something that they’re just really not interested in talking about?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: The issue of cyber is relevant in a number of areas throughout both the strategic and the economic track. The proximate issue of concern – and in fact the issue that generated an indictment recently by the Department of Justice – had to do with a particular area of concern in which Chinese actors obtained or stole corporate or proprietary information, according to the allegation, and transferred it to state-owned enterprises for the purpose of commercializing it. That’s one very particular set of concerns that we have raised consistently with the Chinese and will continue to discuss.

There are many other dimensions to cybersecurity, and I think it is well understood that the U.S. and China, as two arguably largest cyber actors in the world and certainly two large targets of cyber threats, have both an interest and an obligation to cooperate on a bilateral as well as a multilateral basis in setting rules and norms and working through the complex mix of problems that face us. We share an interest in a secure, predictable, and orderly cyber environment. We see the bilateral U.S.-China cyber working group as an important forum and vehicle for fulfilling our responsibilities and for making progress. So we certainly would like to see the earliest practical resumption of that forum, but in the meantime, we will as appropriate utilize dialogue channels, including through the S&ED, to exchange views and to make our concerns known.

QUESTION: So beyond the breakfasts, lunches, dinners, which I’m sure will all be very sumptuous, what’s deliverable at this meeting? What would qualify this as a success? What do you hope to have concretely accomplished over the next two to three days?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I’ll wait to declare victory on the S&ED and to inventory the outcomes and the deliverables until after the principals and the working groups have had an opportunity to actually do the work. Without prejudice to the quality of Chinese cuisine, the meals are working meals. This is a very serious and a very in-depth engagement, possibly unique in terms of America’s substantive dialogues with international partners.

The scope of the delegation and the breadth of the issues is reflective of our ambitions in the U.S.-China relationship. I think the spaces to watch will be on the priority areas that I have flagged. Certainly, there is a tremendous overlap of interests between the U.S. and China on the range of issues relating to climate change, to environmental protection, and to clean energy. And so I would look by way of outcomes at the culmination of the S&ED to what the two sides have to say about the extent to which we’ve committed to or mapped out a course for future collaboration. This is a classic example of an area of a global challenge for which U.S.-China cooperation is an essential ingredient of any long-term solution.

I think similarly, the discussion on regional security issues, particularly North Korea, will be hugely important. There is steady convergence in the views between the U.S. and China on both the importance and the urgency of moving North Korea to take irreversible steps to denuclearize. The recent visit, as I mentioned, of President Xi to Seoul is a significant step for China, and I think that the product of the China-ROK conversations should feed into the discussions that we will have over the next few days.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Let me just add a little bit to my colleague’s excellent comments. I would encourage you to keep in mind the fact that we’re in the business of managing one of the most important strategic relationships for the United States. That means we need to have the right conversations on the right issues with the right people in the right ways at the right times. And that’s what the S&ED was originally conceived and built to do. And [Senior Administration Official One] and I know it because we were there in 2009 at the National Security Council when this construct of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue was first being built.

So when it comes to a relationship like the one between the United States and China, it’s essential that we reduce uncertainty about each other’s intentions, that we increase areas in which we can find common ground, where our interests overlap, where we can build out cooperation. And as [Senior Administration Official One] mentioned, that could be on issues related to Iran, Afghanistan.

At the same time, it’s important for us to determine where it is our interests are diverging, like your colleague’s previous question on cyber security. We need to really identify where is the difference, and we think one of the fundamental differences is on this question of the acceptability of cyber-enabled economic espionage, which the United States Government does not conduct, and we need to come to a clear understanding with the Chinese about that norm. That’s going to be essential to resolving our concerns about Chinese behavior.

But to get back to your question, it’s fundamentally about having the right conversations to maintain a healthy, dynamic relationship with China that doesn’t drift towards inevitable strategic rivalry or confrontation.

MODERATOR: You have a question?

QUESTION: Sure. To what extent are you seeking and are – could you develop any cooperation on Ukraine? Or why is there resistance on China to support your sanctions efforts on Ukraine?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: The issue of Ukraine and the situation there will undoubtedly feature on the strategic track discussions about international issues. The fact of the matter is that there has been cooperation from China on the Ukraine, including at the UN Security Council. But here is an opportunity to talk through where the situation currently stands, what our respective interests are, and what the implications are not only for the U.S. and for China, but for the international system.

China has a long-held and frequently espoused commitment to defending sovereignty and territorial integrity. We have an opportunity through these direct conversations to hear more from the Chinese on how they reconcile those principles with their stance on the Ukraine, on Crimea in particular, and to talk through what each of us sees as the path forward.

MODERATOR: You have a question?

QUESTION: Just to return to Brad’s question, and without wanting to be too cynical about your ambitious goals within this dialogue, I understand that you feel it’s important to have the conversations. I guess the question is: Do you feel the Chinese are actually listening to you?

The maritime tensions have increased since last year. The – you’re in a worse position on cyber than you were last year. And other than cooperation on questions like Ukraine and some cooperation on Syria that we’ve seen in the UN, what exactly do you feel you’re achieving through these dialogues other than just keeping the conversations going? There is a growing sense in China among some Chinese leadership that the United States is just in decline and that they are actually the rising power. So I wonder if you could address that a little bit.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Well, I’d go back to the comment that my colleague made a moment ago, which is to underscore the breadth and the complexity of the U.S.-China relationship. The stakes are very high. And what we have in the S&ED is a sustained mechanism for more than a conversation – to have a strategic dialogue in which we can each identify what we see as the problem areas and the problem behavior on the part of the other side, identify and build out our priorities in terms of greater cooperation where we posit strong common interests and see bilateral cooperation as an important component to achieving important objectives; to compare notes on regional and transnational challenges, situations, and threats, and to ask ourselves what the two systems, what the bureaucracies, what the agencies of the respective governments ought to be working on in the period ahead.

The S&ED provides an opportunity for adjustments to our respective policies as warranted. It creates an opportunity to delve down deeply into why the other side is behaving in a particular way and why that particular behavior is troubling to the other one. It provides an opportunity to ask questions and to challenge assumptions and sometimes to disagree. But we come out of it with a to-do list. On the issues where we think we can get more done, we come out of it with a better understanding of the areas of disagreement and what might be done to ameliorate that. And we also come out of it with a high degree of confidence that we’ve done more than just give a press conference, we’ve done more than just give a speech. In both the strategic and the economic track, we’ve been able to really delve down and talk through areas that left unattended can be increasingly sources of friction.

The S&ED is part of the gyroscope that keeps the relationship upright and oriented towards progress, oriented towards the future. It would be tremendously difficult to manage a relationship of this scope without the systematic and regular interaction that we have.

Now, there have been times when the dust settled and the hotel rooms were vacated, that what was left behind were some very newsworthy and very dramatic, significant breakthroughs or outcomes. There have also been times in the past where the outcomes were noteworthy really for their breadth and not for their drama. I don’t know where on that spectrum the sixth S&ED will fall, but you shouldn’t underestimate the power and the value of this comprehensive and integrated dialogue that marries up both the political and security concerns and the economic and trade concerns of both sides.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: I wholeheartedly agree with my colleague’s comments. Let me add two points. First, keep in mind that the U.S.-China relationship is a motion picture. It shouldn’t be looked at as a snapshot. And I understand as journalists your responsibility is to take that snapshot, but always keep in perspective that it’s a motion picture and it’s sort of that grand, epic, big Hollywood motion picture in which there’s a lot of actors, a lot of interests at stake. And the trajectory of any particular issue takes time to play out.

If you would’ve picked a major U.S.-China meeting in 1994 or 1995, you could raise a number of issues that today aren’t even on the agenda, like the issue of the destabilizing effects of Chinese proliferation of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. That’s just not even on the agenda. So there are all of these issues where we have differences – cybersecurity, maritime issues – they all have an arc in them. And the S&ED is an important inflection point in that arc every year because it’s the most substantial amount of time that our top diplomatic and economic policy makers and security policy makers spend with their Chinese counterparts working on these issues.

The second point that I’d make is that keep in mind when you look at the series of interactions between the U.S. and China over the last year, there is a regional context, that regardless of one’s assessment of the U.S.-China relationship, the U.S. position in Asia is as strong as it’s ever been before. So going into this S&ED, you have a U.S. position in Asia in which our alliances are rock solid, following great diplomacy that Danny and Secretary Kerry have been executing for the past several years, the President’s very successful trip to Asia – Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, allies, non-allies – and we’re making serious progress on concluding the TPP. So we could be having the same conversation in six months in which the U.S. further strengthened its effort to build a stable and diverse security order, an open and transparent economic order, and a liberal political order.

So always keep in mind there’s a regional context that China is part of, because that’s how we think about our China strategy, and the U.S. remains very strong and very active in the Asia Pacific.

QUESTION: Obviously, as time goes on, U.S.-China relationship has evolved from the first S&ED that took place. If you can elaborate, what’s – what are you trying to do differently in this year’s dialogue aside from the topics, varying – depending on what has happened in the past six months and et cetera? It’s just – what’s new here? What are you doing? Are you – is there a new – are – is there a new sort of approach that you’re trying to see in terms of understanding what China is looking in bilateral relationship – does – and basically, how has it evolved since the first S&ED and where you are now, just kind of bigger picture, since you’re marking the 35th anniversary of the bilateral relationships as well?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Well, the short version of the question, “How has the S&ED changed over the last five iterations,” is that I think that the ratio of talking points to discussion has shifted significantly. In the first S&ED, there was tendency to stick to the script. And we had fairly long and somewhat turgid sessions that involved detailed readouts from working groups and long expositions in rooms with big tables and a lot of chairs. We have gotten much more efficient and effective in organizing the conversation at the same time that both sides have gotten more comfortable holding real conversations.

And so I think our confidence and belief that the S&ED over the next few days will generate a significant degree of consensus and progress in terms of our understanding of our respective positions and our ability and commitment to work together is based on the increased quality of the dialogue, and the gradual reduction in the size of many of the meetings really allows the principals to talk and to talk about the issues that they care about.

That brings me to the other part of your question, which is to some extent the S&ED, because it has achieved relevance and a degree of flexibility in terms of the focus, allows us to bore down on the areas of concern. And that includes the concerns where the U.S. and China have overlapping interests and can and want to work closely together – climate change, environment, energy falls into that category, as I would say new challenges like the threat from North Korea. But it also allows us to allocate more time and zero in on concerns that may have exacerbated or arisen over the last year. And we have heightened concerns of – stemming from the tensions in the Asia Pacific region relating to territorial disputes, and particularly to the readiness of claimants to utilize military, paramilitary, coast guard forces in furtherance of their claims; the readiness of claimants to resort to coercion or to retaliation. We’ve seen a series of incidents, many of which or all of which the U.S. has spoken out about publicly, that we can and should discuss in greater depth with the Chinese during the course of the S&ED.

We’re also seeing developed – international developments that directly affect the overall security and stability of the world. This has an impact on energy. This has an impact on trade, and therefore it has an impact on both the U.S. and the – and China. So although the S&ED is part of an annual cycle, it has the agility to allow senior policymakers to focus on areas of concern that have sharpened in the course of the year.

QUESTION: Thank you very much for having this. Let me just follow-up the snapshot, the maritime security. As you said, United States is going to urge China to follow international law and international norms. But as you know well, China has a completely different approach, particularly in a historical approach in terms of – for example, the nine dash line and – in any kind of dispute, they have – they are insisting they have a historical background instead of international law. So my question is: How the United States is going to raise this issue, and what is the good approach to discuss and to narrow a gap? And are you going to raise the oil rig development in Vietnam and ask to stop development? Thank you very much.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Well, I think I would break down the question and break down the issue into some component parts. First and foremost, we will make clear to China, as we have made clear to all of the claimants, that we are not backing one claimant’s position against another’s when it comes to the question of sovereignty. We genuinely don’t take a position on sovereignty with respect to these competing claims.

That means that the United States is unbiased when it comes to the underlying sovereignty question. This is – these are typically challenging issues for neighbors to deal with. They require patience. They require flexibility. They require time, and they require respect for international law.

A second element, though, is the matter of how claimants put forward their claims. First, we urge all of the claimants – not only China, but including China – to clarify their claims in ways that are consistent with international law, including UNCLS, because it is our observation that ambiguity about claims can be destabilizing and can lead to confrontation and even conflict.

The concern that we have expressed about the nine dash line or about historical arguments is not to suggest that we are opposed to China’s sovereignty claim or backing a competing sovereignty claim, but simply that the ambiguity associated with the nine dash line is problematic. The other half of that is the issue of the behavior by the claimant states in connection with their assertions. We believe that the assertions of sovereignty, the defense of a position, should be made through diplomatic channels. And where diplomacy fails and when patience runs out, we accept the right of claimants to avail themselves of legitimate international legal mechanisms as appropriate.

But whatever course a claimant chooses to pursue, it should be and must be a peaceful course. I’d add that I think it should be a neighborly course. China has stated repeatedly and at high levels its commitment to good relations with the countries on its periphery and its commitment to peaceful diplomatic means to address territorial issues. We want China to honor that and live up to its word.

We think that there have been a series of actions over the last six-plus months that clearly have raised tensions among China’s neighbors and generated concerns among other claimant states. This is very relevant to the United States as a Pacific power, as a major trading nation, as a – an important consumer of the sea lanes and as a long-term guarantor of stability in the Asia Pacific region.

So this is a conversation that we will have as we have tried to do throughout: in a very direct, candid, and constructive way.

Thank you.

QUESTION: How much progress do you see to make in the bilateral treaty, the investment treaty? Do you see making immense progress on that? Or is it still – or do you think it’s still far away from actual agreement?

And second of all, how large does the Chinese yuan loom in this conversation? It has always dominated the economic discussion. Is it still going to be a big issue, or do you see these other issues of security and investment kind of replacing that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I think that both the U.S. and China have sought to build on the significant progress we made last year at the S&ED when China agreed to a negative list approach to the bilateral investment treaty to a BIT. Both we and China see tremendous benefits to our economies from expanding investment and see a BIT – a B-I-T – as an important element in creating a framework that will foster increased investment on a solid and sustainable basis.

I’d – would defer to our trade and economic experts on the question of how far they’re getting, but I believe that there is certainly a determination on both sides. I believe that where there is a will there’s a way, but I’m also very mindful of the tremendous complexities of the issue, given the size of the two economies.

And on the currency issue, I think the saying goes my mother didn’t raise a son foolish enough to make a comment about currency. I know that —

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Well, Secretary of the Treasury Lew has spoken to that issue and undoubtedly will speak further to it. I think I’m best served letting him be the voice of the U.S. Government on currency.

QUESTION: All right. Thanks very much.

U.S.-China Relations

Introduction

Chairman Menendez, Ranking Member Corker, Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today on U.S.-China relations. It is also a great honor to be participating in today’s hearing with one of our nation’s most accomplished diplomats, Ambassador Stapleton Roy – a friend, former colleague, and one of the foremost experts on U.S.-China relations. Ambassador Roy’s contributions to the U.S.-China relationship have been invaluable, and I look forward to hearing his insights.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership and to acknowledge this Committee’s contributions to the rich bipartisan tradition of engaging China. I have found it extremely valuable to work closely with the Committee’s Members, and in particular with the Asia Sub-committee, in advancing U.S. interests vis-à-vis China and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.

Overall Bilateral Relations

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of official diplomatic relations between the United States and China. We have made remarkable progress since the era of back-channel messaging and secret trips. The scope of today’s U.S.-China relationship was unimaginable when President Nixon made his historic visit in 1972 to China.

Yet there is still enormous potential for progress in the U.S.-China relationship. Progress that will yield benefits to the citizens of both countries, our neighbors, and the world. To realize this progress and these benefits, we seek to ensure that the relationship is not defined by strategic rivalry, but by fair and healthy competition, by practical cooperation on priority issues, and by constructive management of our differences and disagreements. Where interests overlap, we will seek to expand cooperation with China. These areas include economic prosperity, a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue, and a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases. Where they diverge – and we have significant and well-known areas of disagreement – we will work to ensure that our differences are constructively managed.

Mr. Chairman, there are those who argue that cold war-like rivalry is inevitable and that the United States and China are condemned to a zero-sum struggle for supremacy, if not conflict. I reject such mechanistic thinking. As anyone who has served in government can tell you, this deterministic analysis overlooks the role of leaders who have the ability to set policy and to shape relationships. It gives short shrift to the fact that our two economies are becoming increasingly intertwined, which increases each side’s stake in the success of the other. It undervalues the fact that leaders in Washington and Beijing are fully cognizant of the risk of unintended strategic rivalry between an emerging power and an established power and have agreed to take deliberate actions to prevent such an outcome. And it ignores the reality of the past 35 years – that, in spite of our differences, U.S.-China relations have steadily grown deeper and stronger – and in doing so, we have built a very resilient relationship.

We view China’s economic growth as complementary to the region’s prosperity, and China’s expanded role in the region can be complementary to the sustained U.S. strategic engagement in the Asia-Pacific. We and our partners in the region want China’s rise to contribute to the stability and continued development of the region. As President Obama and Secretary Kerry have made very clear, we do not seek to contain China; to the contrary, we welcome the emergence of a stable, peaceful, and prosperous China. We believe all countries, and particularly emerging powers like China, should recognize the self-benefit of upholding basic rules and norms on which the international system is built; these are rules and norms which China has participated in formulating and shaping, and they are rules and norms that it continues to benefit from. In this context, we are encouraging China to exercise restraint in dealing with its neighbors and show respect for universal values and international law both at home and abroad.

A key element of our approach to the Asia-Pacific region, often called the rebalance, is strengthening America’s alliances and partnerships in the region. This contributes directly to the stable security environment that has underpinned the region’s – and China’s – dramatic economic growth and development.

A second element is working to build up regional institutions in order to uphold the international rules-based system and create platforms for the countries and leaders to work on priority strategic, economic, and other issues. These institutions help develop habits of cooperation and promote respect for the interests of all parties.

A third key element has been expanding and deepening our relationships with important emerging countries such as China, including through regular and high-level dialogue.

In just two weeks, our countries will hold the sixth round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue – the “S&ED” – in Beijing. This annual dialogue is unique in its level and scope. It is led on the U.S. side by Secretaries Kerry and Lew and brings a number of Cabinet-level and other senior U.S. government officials together with their Chinese counterparts to work on the major issues facing us. The breadth of the agenda in the two tracks – strategic and economic – reflects the breadth of modern U.S.-China relations. The S&ED is an important vehicle for making progress in the pursuit of a cooperative and constructive relationship; for building a “new model” that disproves the thesis that the United States and China are somehow destined for strategic rivalry and confrontation.

The S&ED is an important forum for the United States and China to take stock of and set goals for the bilateral relationship, to review regional and international developments and explain our respective policies, to coordinate and seek practical areas of cooperation on important issues of mutual interest, and to constructively manage areas of difference through candid, high-level discussions.

Let me preview of some of the topics for upcoming discussions at this year’s S&ED:

  • We will exchange views and explore prospects for progress on regional challenges, including Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Ukraine, Iraq, and maritime disputes in the South and East China Seas;
  • The world’s two largest economies will work on strengthening the global economic recovery;
  • The world’s two biggest energy consumers and carbon emitters will work on combating climate change, and expand cooperation on clean energy;
  • We will discuss global challenges ranging from cyber security to counterterrorism to wildlife trafficking, and the United States will raise our concerns over human rights;
  • Secretary Kerry will co-chair the annual U.S.-China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange, which supports exchange programs that build the foundation for mutual understanding and trust;
  • And Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and his Chinese counterpart will hold the U.S.-China Strategic Security Dialogue (SSD), our highest-ranking joint civilian-military exchange with China, where we will conduct frank discussions on some of the most sensitive strategic issues in the relationship.

The S&ED and our numerous other dialogues and official exchanges with the Chinese each year reflect the importance we attach to managing this relationship. This level and pace of engagement show the commitment of both sides to producing tangible benefits for our two peoples, the Asia-Pacific region, and the global community.

The United States and China have a vital stake in each other’s success. That is why we maintain an intensive schedule of engagement; President Obama and President Xi met in Sunnylands, California, a year ago and have met twice more since then. The President plans to visit Beijing in November when China hosts APEC. Secretary Kerry, as well as numerous Cabinet and sub-Cabinet officials, have visited China already in 2014 and have met with Chinese counterparts in the United States or at international fora.

We work with China in virtually all important international arenas, including the UN, the G20, the East Asia Summit, and APEC where we are cooperating closely on regulatory transparency, supply chain efficiencies, promoting clean and renewable energy, cross-border education, and combatting corruption and bribery. Our relationship touches on nearly every regional and global issue, and, as such, requires sustained, high-level attention. Moreover, few of these issues can be effectively addressed if China and the United States do not cooperate.

Economic Relations

Economic issues play a central role in the U.S.-China relationship. China’s economic success has added to our growth and increased the purchasing power of consumers in the United States. Our two-way trade has almost quadrupled since China joined the WTO in late 2001. While the long-standing imbalance in that trade remains troubling, China is now one of the fastest growing U.S. export markets. In fact, U.S. exports to China grew by more than 90 percent between 2007 and 2013. In our bilateral engagements, we are encouraging economic reforms within China to ensure not only that its economic behavior is sustainable on its own terms, but that it contributes to strong, sustainable and balanced growth of the global economy. This includes re-orienting its economy away from a development model reliant on exports and credit-fueled investment in real estate and infrastructure to one that increases consumer spending and contributes to global demand. Central to this goal has been urging China to move toward a market-determined exchange rate. We are also addressing sources of friction in our bilateral relationship by pressing China to change a range of discriminatory policies and practices that harm U.S. companies and workers and that undermine incentives to innovate. These include subsidies that tilt the competitive playing field in favor of Chinese national champions, policies that pressure companies to hand over intellectual property as a condition for access to the Chinese market, and export credits that unfairly advantage Chinese companies in third markets. U.S. businesses have investments totaling over $50 billion. And from 2012 to 2013, Chinese direct investment flows into the United States more than doubled, according to private sector figures, and now contribute to thousands of jobs here. Our ongoing bilateral investment treaty negotiations hold the potential for even more mutually beneficial economic ties.

Even as we increase trade and investment, we will continue insisting on tangible progress in other economic areas that matter to the United States. These include:

  • China continuing to move toward a market-determined exchange rate;
  • negotiating a Bilateral Investment Treaty;
  • increasing access to Chinese markets for U.S. businesses;
  • developing a more transparent regulatory regime;
  • ending industrial policies that favor state-owned enterprises and national champions and seek to disadvantage foreign companies and their products;
  • ending forced technology transfer; and
  • addressing U.S. concerns over the theft of intellectual property and trade secrets, including government-sponsored, cyber-enabled theft for the purpose of giving Chinese companies a competitive advantage.

We will also continue to encourage greater Chinese integration into the rules-based international economic and trading system, in order to create a level playing field

for domestic and foreign companies operating in its and other markets. Over the last few months, China’s leaders have announced plans for sweeping reforms that, if realized, could go a long way in moving China’s economy toward market principles. We are encouraged that these announced reforms would potentially give the market a greater role in the economy, and we are keenly interested to see such reforms put into practice. I believe we can do much to work with China as it transitions to a consumption-driven, market-oriented growth model that would benefit both our economies.

Military-to-Military Relations

On the military side of the U.S.-China relationship, we are committed to building a sustained and substantive military-to-military relationship that focuses on identifying concrete, practical areas of cooperation and reducing risk. This includes not only deepening the use of institutionalized dialogue mechanisms, including senior defense participation at the SSD and S&ED, but also inviting the Chinese to join regional cooperative exercises and expanding talks with the Chinese military about operational safety in the region. For the first time this year, China will participate in RIMPAC June 26-August 1 in Hawaii.

We also aim to continue high-level exchanges between our militaries. Recent exchanges have included visits to China by Secretary Hagel in April and General Odierno in February, and a visit to the United States by Chief of the General Staff General Fang Fenghui in May.

At the same time, we will continue to carefully monitor China’s military developments and encourage China to exhibit greater transparency with respect to its military spending and modernization. This will help countries better understand the motivations of the People’s Liberation Army. We continue to encourage China to use its military capabilities in a manner conducive to the maintenance of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Global and Regional Issues

As the largest energy consumers, greenhouse gas emitters, and renewable energy producers, the United States and China share common interests, challenges and responsibilities. These are issues that relate directly to our economic and national security. Cooperation on climate change, energy, and environmental protection is more critical than ever and is an important area of focus in the U.S.-China bilateral relationship.

Through broad dialogues such as the Ten-Year Framework for Energy and Environment Cooperation and the S&ED, over the last year we have been able to produce new and expanded commitments to cooperation on climate change, energy, and the environment. During Secretary Kerry’s February trip to Beijing, he announced implementation plans for each of the five initiatives under the Climate Change Working Group as well as a new enhanced policy dialogue on domestic and international policies to address climate change that will be held on the margins of the upcoming S&ED.

China is a vital partner on some of the world’s most pressing proliferation challenges, including the DPRK and Iran. The United States and China agree on the importance and urgency of achieving a denuclearized, stable, and prosperous Korean Peninsula. While differences remain between us on some of the tactics, we coordinate closely and consult intensively on how to advance these shared goals. The result has been a tightened web of sanctions targeting North Korea’s nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation efforts. China has also strengthened its own sanctions enforcement, which we welcome, though it could do more to prevent North Korea from engaging in proliferation activities. Indeed, North Korea remains in flagrant violation of the UN Security Council resolutions that the United States and China approved and support. So we are urging China to make greater use of its unique leverage with the DPRK to produce concrete signs that the DPRK leader has come to the realization that his only viable path forward is denuclearization.

On Iran, the United States and China share the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and are working together within the P5+1 negotiations with Iran toward that goal. Through our frequent and high-level engagement, we will continue to press China to honor its commitments, in particular those related to its imports of Iranian oil and enforcement of UN sanctions, in furtherance of reaching a comprehensive and long-term solution to the Iran nuclear issue.

Managing Differences

In the Asia-Pacific region, Beijing’s neighbors are understandably alarmed by China’s increasingly coercive efforts to assert and enforce its claims in the South China and East China Seas. A pattern of unilateral Chinese actions in sensitive and disputed areas is raising tensions and damaging China’s international standing. Moreover, some of China’s actions are directed at U.S. treaty allies. The United States has important interests at stake in these seas: freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, respect for international law, and the peaceful management of disputes. We apply the same principles to the behavior of all claimants involved, not only to China. China – as a strong and rising power – should hold itself to a high standard of behavior; to willfully disregard diplomatic and other peaceful ways of dealing with disagreements and disputes in favor of economic or physical coercion is destabilizing and dangerous.

The United States does not take sides on the sovereignty questions underlying the territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas, but we have an interest in the behavior of states in their management or resolution of these disputes. We want countries, including China, to manage or settle claims through peaceful, diplomatic means. For example, the Philippines and Indonesia have just done so in connection with their EEZ boundary. Disputes can also be addressed through third-party dispute resolution processes. Where parties’ rights under treaties may be affected, some treaties provide for third-party dispute settlement, as is the case of the Law of the Sea Convention, an avenue pursued by the Philippines in an arbitration with China currently being considered by an Arbitral Tribunal constituted under that treaty. The United States and the international community oppose the use or the threat of force to try to advance a claim, and view such actions as having no effect in strengthening the legitimacy of China’s claims. These issues should be decided on the basis of the merits of China’s and other claimants’ legal claims and adherence to international law and norms, not the strength of their militaries and law enforcement ships or the size of their economies.

Another area where we believe China’s actions run counter to important universal principles is the worsening human rights situation in China. Just this month, China conducted a harsh crackdown on commemorations of the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square. China’s actions included the detention, harassment and arrests of journalists, lawyers, and activists. Top U.S. officials raise our concerns with Chinese leaders on a regular basis, and, as we have in every previous round, Secretary Kerry plans to raise human rights at this year’s S&ED. We express concern about the Chinese government’s censorship of the media and Internet. We push for the release of all political prisoners, including but not limited to prominent figures like Liu Xiaobo. We urge China to address the policies in Tibetan areas that threaten the distinct religious, cultural, and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people. Instability and violence are on the increase in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. As we unequivocally condemn the acts of terrorism and violence, we also urge China to take steps to reduce tensions and reform counterproductive policies that stoke discontent and restrict peaceful expression and religious freedom.

Conclusion

Clearly, a wide-ranging and complex relationship such as ours with China comes with challenges. Some degree of friction is inevitable. But an essential tool for managing and resolving differences is open and extensive communications between our two countries – at senior and working levels of government, military to military, through local governments and organizations, between our business communities, and at the grassroots level.

We are now reflecting on the considerable progress attained in 35 years of bilateral relations. One key lesson is that to ensure that our relationship grows and matures, we need to build up the links among our two peoples. People-to-people exchanges are essential to enhancing mutual understanding and furthering U.S. strategic and economic goals. To that end, the United States in 2013 received 1.8 million Chinese visitors who collectively spent $9.8 billion on goods and services in our economy. Our State Department personnel work hard to facilitate growing Chinese demand for international travel by maintaining average visa wait-times under five days over the past two years.

Education also plays an important role fostering mutual understanding. In 2013, we had 235,000 students from China studying in the United States, more than from any other country, and the United States aspires to increase the number of American students studying in China and learning Mandarin through the 100,000 Strong Initiative. In March, PRC First Lady Peng Liyuan welcomed First Lady Michelle Obama to China where together they met with U.S. and Chinese students and faculty and promoted the value of study abroad and educational exchange.

We are also working with groups like the Sister Cities International and the U.S.-China Governors Forum. These programs help by encouraging and supporting cities and states to deepen their cultural or commercial ties with Chinese counterparts. In the last year alone, we have supported numerous visits of governors and state delegations and helped them to find opportunities to deepen their involvement and links to China.

The Department works closely with the United States Chamber of Commerce, AmCham China, the U.S.-China Business Council, and other business groups to support key priorities for U.S. companies doing business in China and to promote – greater Chinese investment in the United States. In partnership and consultation with those organizations, we have encouraged the Chinese government to eliminate investment restrictions, strengthen IPR protection, increase regulatory transparency, and establish a level playing field for all companies in China.

In conclusion, let me paraphrase what President Obama said earlier this year when he met with Chinese President Xi at the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague. The U.S.-China relationship has made great strides over these past several decades, and both sides are committed to building a new model of relations between our countries defined by expanded cooperation and constructive management of differences.

Mr. Chairman, I thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss U.S.-China relations. I look forward to answering any questions you and others from the Committee may have.

Oceans Roundtable

MS. HARF: Hi everybody. Thank you to everyone for coming today. For those of you who I haven’t met, I’m Marie Harf. I’m the deputy spokesperson here. We’ll be moderating today’s discussion. We have several very distinguished speakers with us: Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Cathy Novelli will kick us of today. We also have the OES Deputy Assistant Secretary David Balton with us. This is all on the record, no embargo in any way for any of this.

As you know, the Secretary will be dropping by at some point during this conversation to make a few remarks and just take a couple of questions because his schedule is pretty tight, but he wanted to come have a discussion with you as well.

So with that, I’m going to turn it over the Under Secretary, I think will have some remarks, and then we’ll open it up to your questions and we will just go around the room when we do so.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Okay, great. Well, thank you all for being here. And I thought I could start by just giving you a little bit of a picture of what we’re expecting to have happen on Monday and Tuesday, which is that – the days that the Secretary is hosting the Our
Ocean conference. And when we started to look at this question, this was really the very first thing the Secretary talked to me about working on when he and I talked about me coming to the State Department. And I was absolutely delighted to be able to lead on this, because these are critical issues and they’re becoming more critical as time goes on.

And so when we looked at this conference and what we could do, we decided to focus it so that we could also focus results. And so we focused it on three areas, which are overfishing and illegal fishing, pollution of the ocean, and ocean acidification. And those three areas were areas that we arrived at in consultation with a number of eminent oceans experts, including our own oceans experts internally here at the State Department, but also in the NGO and the scientific community.

And the idea behind this conference is a slightly different one than all of the other very excellent conferences that have gone on, and that is that we wanted to look at the fact that we can’t solve these problems simply by government-to-government action; that all layers of society need to play a role here, and that includes individuals, it includes scientists, governments, the NGO community, and the private sector. And so we’ve designed a conference that actually gets all of those layers of society in one place to work on concrete solutions to these problems.

And the other thing that has struck me about working on this conference is that it is – obviously the ocean is vast and these problems are large and they are things that actually threaten our wellbeing, our livelihood, our environment, but there are people solving these issues around the world. And so one of the other things that we did is went out through our embassies to every space in the world to try to find the most credible people who are solving some of these problems in their own communities, in their own ways, to bring them to this conference so that we can have a conference that is looking at what is the path to solutions on this. And then sort of build from that at the end of the conference a list of policy direction that we can all take and that we can all agree is what we need to be doing at these various layers, so that we’re not just having a conference where everybody comes and talks; we’re having a conference where concrete things are occurring, where we’re setting up a path for more concrete things to occur through other conferences, other fora, and through a set of principles that governments, the private sector, NGOs, and regular people are going to be able to focus on.

And so the first thing that we’ve done in preparation for this is to do a social media campaign. You may have seen the Secretary’s call to action that he’s put out, and we’re getting a great response on that. And the idea behind that was to figure out, okay, what are the things, simple things, that individuals can do that are going to make a difference. So we asked them to do three things: only eat sustainably-caught seafood, not pollute the waterways and the oceans, and volunteer one day a year to clean up the waterways or the beaches.

And we’re getting – we’re putting that out there. We’re expecting a response. That’s obviously the layer, the individuals. There’s deeply scientific layers that look at things like ocean acidification, what does that mean, and how do we mitigate it. There are technical layers about how do we track fish so that we know whether they’ve been caught legally or illegally so that people can know whether their seafood has actually been caught sustainably or not. And all of these different things are what we’re going to be discussing at the conference.

So that is the idea that we’re going to have concrete results, that we’re building towards more concrete results in the future, with a pathway of how to get from point A to point B. And I don’t mean to suggest this is simple; it’s not. It’s very complicated. But it is also solvable, and that’s what we want to put the emphasis on, that we actually really can change the environment and change the way that these things are being addressed so that we do have sustainable fish for a huge percentage of the population that relies on it as its main source of protein, so that we have something that is economically sound and is creating and sustaining jobs, and so that we are also sustaining our environment.

So I’ll stop there and just – I’m happy to take questions.

MS. HARF: Great. Any opening thoughts, or do you just want to go right into questions? We’ll go right into questions. (Laughter.)

PARTICIPANT: Couldn’t have said it better myself.

MS. HARF: Great. Well, let’s just open it up. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Michele Kelemen, NPR —

MS. HARF: Yes, and please do identify yourself.

QUESTION: Can you just talk about any – what sort of – is there money involved here, are there specific projects you’re funding, announcements that you’re expecting to make. Thank you.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yeah. We’re going to make very specific announcements. Those are going to be made at the conference, so I’m not going to go into those now. But there is money involved, there are specific actions involved, and there is going to also be sort of a path for the future. So we’re doing things today that are very tangible, and we’re also looking at technology and what can that do on some of these questions. So there’s some pretty cool technological things that we’re going to have developed and we’re going to be able to roll out at the conference. And there will be a concrete list of things that people are bringing to the table for this conference, and then a path for future things.

MR. BALTON: Not just the United States Government —

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Right.

MR. BALTON: — there will be announcements by other governments, other organizations we fully expect.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Right. And – right. And not just by governments, so —

QUESTION: And how many countries involved? How many —

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Over 80 countries will be here, and we’re going to have foreign ministers, we’re going to have environment ministers from those countries. And as I said we’re going to have NGOs from all over the world as well as business community. So – and then this will be livestreamed, so we’re hoping that all the people who have made these pledges to action, or a number of them, will be able to follow this live. And we’ve got this in an interactive way, so they’ll be able to actually feed questions in as the discussion goes on. We have put a premium on people showing rather than telling what the problems are, visually. So we expect this to be a very visually engaging conference as well, so that – I think it’s sometimes easier if you can just see the dead zone in the sea instead of just trying to imagine, for example, what that looks like.

QUESTION: Under Secretary, Juliet Eilperin with The Washington Post, can you both say first of all how many world leaders – have you now a final count of how many are coming? I know it’s a handful. And then the second question is: Clearly, the international community has tried to deal with climate change and had a number of problems in reaching it. And when you look at the oceans, more than half of it is on the high seas which isn’t in anyone’s exclusive economic zone. How do you think this can be different in terms of producing concrete results or a meaningful difference in a way we might not have seen through UN efforts on climate?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Well, I think – for example, for fish, I think there is already the capability, technologically, for example, to trace where boats are. And so whether they’re in the high seas or not, you can know where they are, and that allows you then to figure out how they – are they fishing in a place where they’re supposed to fish or not? So I think there are some —

QUESTION: But that’s not in place, that technology.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: The technology is not in place everywhere.

QUESTION: Right.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: It exists. And some folks are using it and some aren’t, and that’s one of the things we want to try to push forward here, and we want to try to push forward how other countries can make sure that these things are used. There is a new treaty that – out there called the Port-State Measures Agreement that sort of exhorts countries and gives them tools to actually implement this type of thing. So we’re looking at trying to get more signatories to that through this conference and also to get the technology pushed out and have a discussion about how that works – also on the U.S. side.

So I think – I guess what I would say is – maybe slightly different – is that there are actual solutions that people are putting in place in this realm today that can serve as catalysts to do it on a wider basis. And so we have the tools, and I think that that makes this in some ways very granular, and that means that you can attack it more easily. And I don’t know if “attack” is the right word, but solve these issues more easily.

So – and I will say, I mean, there has been a groundswell of support from the NGO community about this, and they also have a number of very tangible initiatives that they have been working on with foreign governments, which we hope to bring to fruition and we expect we will at this conference. So it’s a real partnership at many levels. And I haven’t honestly heard, as I’ve traveled around talking to governments about this, anybody who says this is an insoluble problem. There’s no one throwing up their hands saying this is just impossible and the politics of this are such that we can’t do it. I’ve heard people saying, okay, we can march forward here and we can figure out this path, and that we want to be on that frame. And that’s why we’re doing it this way.

In terms of world leaders, we expect to have many heads of state here, many are from the smaller island countries where this is vital to their health. But as I said, we’re also going to have quite a cadre of environment ministers and foreign ministers here, too.

QUESTION: But when you say “many,” can you give a range?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: I think in terms of – a hand of heads of state. I think it’s less than a dozen. I don’t have the final count.

MS. HARF: We can get some of those final numbers for you as well.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yeah.

QUESTION: Okay.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yeah, yeah.

MR. BALTON: Can I add one point to that? Would it be okay?

MS. HARF: Go for it.

MR. BALTON: So as someone who’s worked in this field for a long time, it is true, the solutions are out there. Often the missing ingredient has been political will, and what I see this conference as is a perfect opportunity to catalyze that will. That’s why we invited the types of people we did to this conference. We’re hoping to build political will towards these solutions.

QUESTION: I’m Suzanne Goldenberg from The Guardian. I know a few months ago there was talk with people from the Global Oceans Summit, David Miliband and (inaudible) – it was some of the ideas they were putting forward and there was consensus behind included a special police force of – a blue police force, sort of a water-borne version of blue helmets that would actually police the high seas – not necessarily boarding boats themselves, but using these kind of technologies that you mentioned. Is that something that the State Department would get behind?

And also would the State Department get behind a separate international organization for ocean how?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: I think – I guess what I would say is we think there is an awful lot already that’s out there in terms of organizations that are regulating fishing in particular. So I’m very aware of the great work that’s been done by David Miliband and that group of folks, and we expect several of the people who were the authors of that study to be at the conference. I – this – I have not, to be honest, heard of a police force of the high seas. That’s the first time I’m hearing of that. I think we’re – there are many mechanisms that are already in place, and I think the question is how do we get those to be optimal? And that’s what we’re looking at.

There can be also new things that if there’s a consensus around and we – that’s what we want to develop is a consensus. So I think that’s the best answer I can give you on that.

MS. HARF: Jo.

QUESTION: Jo Biddle from Agence France Presse. Hi, nice to meet you.

MR. BALTON: Nice to meet you too.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask about the possibility of expanding marine parks, particularly in U.S. borders. I believe some of the NGOs are saying this could be a major way that the United States could show leadership in this area. At the moment, about only – they estimate that – conservationists estimate that at least 30 percent of the oceans need to be covered by marine-protected areas. They’ve actually identified three specific areas of the United States – I’m sure, obviously, the Pacific atolls, the Marianas Trench, and the northwest Hawaiian Islands.

Do you anticipate that you will be making some announcements on this? Is this something that you would consider would be a good thing, and – or what are the problems of doing something like that? Does it impact with fishing, locals who are fishing, potentially, or something like that?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: So we absolutely believe that marine-protected areas are an important tool in conservation. And it’s – conservation’s important because you want to make sure that you have not just preservation of the environment, which is vital, but also you want to preserve fish so that the next generation of people who need to eat can do that. So marine-protected areas are important for many things; those are just two of them. We fully support marine-protected areas. We expect some announcements to come out of this conference, but we’re going to hold that until the conference. So —

QUESTION: And are you – kind of just to follow up, then, are you also pushing your partners around the world to do similar things on expanding marine parks?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yes.

MR. BALTON: Yes.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: We absolutely are.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Hi, I’m Matt Viser with The Boston Globe. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about the Law of the Seas Treaty. And Secretary Kerry in the Senate was pushing for that in 2012 and it did not pass. How does any of this relate to what’s in that treaty? Should the U.S. still be pushing to sign that? Can you just —

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Well, you know that the President at his West Point speech talked about the Law of the Sea Treaty and the need to move that forward. We have been leading on – particularly in the fisheries – conservation area despite the fact that we have not ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty. And we’re looking at these other areas – ocean acidification – where there’s a lot of technology, et cetera.

So we are continuing to lead whether that treaty is ratified or isn’t ratified. That said, it is a very important treaty and the President has already said we need to look at getting to a place where we can ratify this. And so we will be taking that up.

QUESTION: Do you know when? I mean, is there a time element to that and when that treaty could be taken up, or when efforts to push the Senate to take it up again might —

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: People are talking about that internally and how we – it’s very important for economics, not just for conservation. It’s important for both things. And I think we need to make sure that that message is properly communicated to those who have to take the decision on whether they’re going to give their advice and consent. In terms of timing, I don’t have an answer for you on specific timing, but it is going to be something we’re going to work on.

QUESTION: Ian Urbina with The New York Times. Two questions: One, the UN agreement on biodiversity – will we hear much discussion of that and where the U.S. stands on it? And two, I know there are calls to expand the category of ships that are required to have AIS, especially fishing vessels more. Will that be an issue that gets discussed?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: So on the biodiversity, there is actually going to be a meeting going on in the UN at the same time as the conference, which the U.S. will be participating in. And I think this conference is really focusing on these kind of practical solutions, so I don’t expect we’re going to have a huge discussion of that, and that’s going to be going on in the UN, which is the proper forum for it to be going on. And your second question I’m going to defer to David, so —

MR. BALTON: So you’re right. There are requirements for many large vessels to have a variety of things, including AIS, and there is a – there are proposals out there in the – at the International Maritime Organization to expand the category of vessels that will be covered by these requirements, including more fishing vessels. And we do support that, yes. Whether it will happen anytime soon, I don’t know, but I expect it will come up at the conference as a step that we need to take.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yes.

QUESTION: Neela Bannerjee with The Los Angeles Times. I wanted to return to something that Mr. Balton said about this being an opportunity to catalyze political will. Where are the areas specifically that you feel like political will is most lacking and that needs an extra push? That’s the first thing. And then the second question is: We’ve talked a lot about fishing and pollution, but what are some of the ideas that would be put forward to deal with the ocean acidification?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Mm-hmm. So I think political will is needed in all three of these areas. That’s why we picked them. So each area – overfishing, pollution of the ocean, which – a lot of the pollution of the ocean comes from runoff of fertilizer overuse as well as from plastics that don’t biodegrade, and so that is absolutely going to be discussed. And the third thing, ocean acidification, is obviously related to climate change. And in terms of that, one of the things that is true is that we don’t know everything about where – oh, the Secretary’s coming, so I will finish that after.

SECRETARY KERRY: Hi, folks. How are you all?

MR. BALTON: Morning.

SECRETARY KERRY: Hey, Marie, how are you?

MS. HARF: Good.

SECRETARY KERRY: Hi, Cathy.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Hi.

SECRETARY KERRY: Hi, everybody.

QUESTION: Hi.

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning to you.

QUESTION: Good morning.

SECRETARY KERRY: I’ll run around and say hi to everybody.

(Introductions are made.)

MS. HARF: So everyone, as I said, this is all on the record. The Secretary will make some remarks, and then I think he probably has time for just a few questions. So no embargo.

SECRETARY KERRY: Absolutely. Great.

MS. HARF: I’ll turn it over to you, sir.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Marie. Thank you very much. Thanks, Cathy.

Well, let me begin by saying I am really excited by this conference which has been long in the making, since the moment I arrived here. In fact, I had wanted to do this when I was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and we began to plan some original efforts and then we ran out of time because they appointed me to something else. (Laughter.) So we just brought it over here and a few people like Marie and others to work on it.

The oceans are a passion of mine and always have been, from the time I was three years old or whatever and dipped my toes into Buzzard’s Bay and watched a lot of people from Woods Hole Oceanographic mucking around in the seaweed in the shallows getting specimens and doing research, and I began to wonder, sort of what is this all about? And for years and years, needless to say, have appreciated our oceans and have traveled many of them in the United States Navy across the Pacific on a ship, and went through Leyte Gulf and into the Philippines, and down to the Coral Sea and down to New Zealand and back through Samoa, and saw a lot of detritus and impacts of civilization, as we call it, on the ocean.

And then as chairman of the fisheries subcommittee in the United States Senate on the commerce committee, became deeply involved in protecting migratory species, dealing with tuna, with salmon, the Columbia River; with various laws that are supposed to regulate growth and development along the ocean border, like the Marine Mammal Protection Act or the Coastal Zone Management Act, the flood insurance, et cetera, which I rewrote as a senator. And I think I rewrote the Magnuson fisheries acts on several different occasions – not think, I know I did. (Laughter.) And then we rewrote them and changed them, working with Ted Stevens, who was a great collaborator with me on this when we were either chair or ranking member, et cetera. And we constantly were fighting to get additional science done, research money, and monitoring and other things, but I’m jumping ahead. Ted and I took the driftnet fishing to the United Nations. We managed to get driftnet fishing banned, ultimately, at the UN in the international process, though there are still some pirates out there who illegally fish and strip-mine the oceans, which is what they were doing.

So I learned during all of this process that a huge percentage of what fishermen fish is called bycatch and it’s just thrown overboard. Sometimes 50 percent or two thirds of a particular catch could actually be bycatch and thrown overboard. And through this process over the years, I became aware of this body of water we call the world’s oceans – ocean, which is actually 75 percent of Earth. The vast majority of Earth is not earth at all, it’s ocean. And some people have pointed out occasionally you could’ve called the planet Ocean rather than Earth. But we actually – according to some, and evolution – once spent a fair amount of time in the ocean. The – and much of the Earth’s surface was covered by the ocean that isn’t covered even today, as we all know from geology.

But what’s important to us today is that the ocean is the essential ingredient of life itself on the planet. In terms of oxygen, carbon dioxide, ecosystem, ocean currents, temperatures, life itself on Earth – if we did not have a 57 degree average temperature, which is what we had up until recent years, you wouldn’t have life the way we have it on the planet. And it is interacting deeply with the oceans and flow of the oceans. We depend on the oceans not just for oxygen and nutrients and protein, fish; there are – maybe 13 percent of the world’s population is completely dependent on the ocean for its input. But it also is essential to regulating climate around the planet, as well as major ecosystems. For instance, the Gulf Stream is an example of that.

Increasingly the ocean is threatened. The reason for this conference is very simple: The world’s oceans, as vast as they are, as much as they elicit a sense of awe for size and kind of power – they are under siege from a combination of acidification that takes place through the CO2 that falls into the ocean, which is changing ocean species and environment; it is under threat from pollution, a vast amount of pollution that spews off of land, flows down from places like the heartland of America, where farming practices wind up putting a certain amount of nutrients into the Missouri River, which flows into the Mississippi River – or any other river out of there, Ohio or otherwise – down into the Mississippi, out into the dead zone, which is now famous. Well, there are a bunch of dead zones around the world as a result of these things.

And ultimately, the third great danger is overfishing. Most of the world’s major fisheries are being overfished. Not all, but most. And some have a better process of regulation than others, but the problem with it is there’s a great debate over the science. There’s a great battle for who’s right and how do you base a regulatory rule on something if you don’t really know. And so there’s been always – I learned this firsthand in Massachusetts in our relationship with fishermen, that there’s this violent sense of injustice done when the regulators regulate, because the captains don’t believe the science on which the regulation is based. And so you have this disrespect, to some degree, and even flaunting in other instances, of the regulations. And most profoundly, you have a lack of monitoring and a lack of enforcement. So it’s all well and good to have some rule or regulation, but if it doesn’t get – if it’s not enforced, it’s like not having it at all.

So these are the problems we face, and we’re going to talk about this at a very well-attended, broadly represented conference that will have the prime minister* of Norway, the – Prince Albert of Monaco, the foreign minister of Chile, a number of government officials, a number of private sector entities, heads of major fishery corporations and Roger Berkowitz of Legal Sea Foods, an example – I mean, people who are stakeholders. We will have environmental and oceans experts, ocean scientists, a lot of visual presentation, a lot of presentation that people can really grab onto and understand. National Geographic, Cousteau Society, all these players are going to be involved in this conference that’s going to take place. It will be highly interactive and really give people an opportunity to be able to understand this.

I mean, part of it is an educational awareness-creating initiative, but it’s also – and this is very important – we didn’t want to just have a conference for the sake of it and have everybody talk and go away and not feel as if something can happen. And so building on other conferences – and there have been a lot of good conferences. I’ll give you an example. Jim Kim of the World Bank will be here and the World Bank’s been involved in this a little bit, and they’re making new policies in terms of how they can also help to protect the oceans and so forth. And we want to come out of it with an action agenda, and that’s our goal – is to set up a set of principles, declarations if you will, coming out of Washington, out of the Washington conference that can guide and impact choices on a global basis and build as we go into other conferences, which inevitably we’ll take in other meetings where we try to coalesce global action around this effort to protect the oceans.

That’s why I did that event when I was down in Bali with the fishermen down there. A huge percentage of fishermen – of Indonesians are fishermen. A huge percentage of the population there relies on the fish, and many of those fish come straight to Boston restaurants and New York restaurants and California. They’re huge suppliers to us, so it’s a global network. We’re all involved in it, and that’s the bottom line.

MS. HARF: Great, thank you. I think we have just time for two quick questions if folks are interested in typing.

SECRETARY KERRY: Anybody have a question?

MS. HARF: He answered everything.

SECRETARY KERRY: I answered everything. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: So quite a —

SECRETARY KERRY: Cathy will do in my absence. She’ll fill you all in, Marie, everybody.

MS. HARF: Let’s just do – did anyone – yeah, Juliet. Did you have one?

QUESTION: Well, I’m just wondering if you could say – just broadly, the U.S. traditionally has been a leader on this issue. There’s been plenty of people who would say in the last few years, whether you’re looking at whaling or climate or a number of things that other countries, including even small ones, have done things much more aggressively on the ocean than the United States. What do you think it would take beyond holding this conference to make the U.S. a leader in this? And given that much of this is going to be done through the President’s executive authority, what do you see are the possibilities and the limits to that given congressional resistance to some of it?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I would contest the notion that the U.S. hasn’t been a leader in this. I think we have been in our Magnuson Fisheries Act, in other efforts we’ve taken – I mean, the Coastal Zone Management Act, the flood insurance – we’ve done a lot of things to curb building, which other countries haven’t done. We’ve done a lot of things in terms of certain fisheries – manage them that other countries haven’t done. We do boast both Woods Hole Oceanographic and Scripps, two of the world’s premier research entities. So I think I’m not going to back off on our role, but we can do more. We can do better science, we can do better monitoring, we can do – we certainly could do better on climate change and emissions and so forth which have a profound impact on fishing.

But look, we’ve done a lot. We’ve done a lot with HFCs; we did a lot with acid rain. And there are other countries in Asia particularly that haven’t done enough on something like acid rain, and that has a profound impact on fisheries and so forth. So it’s a mixed bag and that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about here – who needs to do what, how, and what we can all do.

MS. HARF: Great.

SECRETARY KERRY: Okay.

QUESTION: Can you just talk – can you just give a couple —

MS. HARF: One more from Michele.

QUESTION: — maybe just a couple examples of what you hope to come out of this? I mean, I understand the action agenda, but how much money do you expect —

SECRETARY KERRY: We have a very solid action agenda. I think you’ve gotten some sense when I talk about monitoring or I talk about science. We obviously need to do more of both. There are other things we need to do, and we need to agree on fishing practice. I mean, there are a lot of things we need to do, and let’s let the conference sort of develop that, and it’ll unfold in the course of it, and that’ll make you have to come and pay attention to all of it. (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: Great. Thank you all so much and we’ll stay and answer some more questions.

SECRETARY KERRY: Great, all right. Thanks, everybody.

QUESTION: Thank you. Great.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: So you want me to finish?

QUESTION: Yeah.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: I was just on a separate vacation. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: No, I don’t even —

QUESTION: You kind of – you sort of talked about this too and I guess – I think what all of us are sort of getting at are the specifics within these three main priorities, right?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Right.

QUESTION: Like he mentioned, for example, runoff issues, right?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Right.

QUESTION: So – and you mentioned that too as well. So what are – if political will is lacking, then what are – like, what would you really like – like, say under each of these categories, right – the three categories – can you name two things that you would like to see action on, right? Is it runoff, is it pollution? What is it exactly?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Well, so on ocean acidification, one of the things that is really important there is, while we know the ocean is acidifying more, we don’t know – it’s not, like, uniformly doing that and it’s not doing that in a constant way. So we would like to see, for example, much more monitoring in a more thorough way so that, for example, shellfish farmers can have some early warning, if a big wave of acidification’s coming their way, that they could actually take some measures to mitigate that with their farms.

So that’s – those are some concrete things, and we actually have a shellfish farmer who is partnered with the state of Washington in this very – it’s a high-tech and low-tech way to be able to do just that. So part of that is figuring out mitigation, part of that is figuring out – as the Secretary said – what is the science and trying to set a baseline. So those are some concrete things in that space. Clearly there’s a whole climate change piece that’s going on in a separate place, and we’re not going to tackle that here because it’s already going on someplace else, but we’re sort of tackling what we can tackle at this moment.

On the fisheries side, I think that several of the issues – we’ve already highlighted what they are. How do you credibly trace where things are coming? What are the right regimes to have in place so that if your population says, “Is my seafood sustainably caught,” they can get a reliable answer – yes, that is? So we’re looking at that.

On the pollution side, I think there’s two aspects to it. One is: What are the scientific/technical things that need to be done to address this question of runoff? Are there things that can be done about how fertilizer is used, how it’s formulated, so that it is creating less of a problem when there’s some runoff into the waterways. Are there things that can be done on the science of plastic to make it more biodegradable? What can be done on recycling so that you’re actually having less things go into the ocean? So those are some specific things, and we’re trying to look at it that way.

QUESTION: So but, I mean, for example, with runoff, you’re having to deal with other federal agencies, right?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I mean, don’t you have to deal with EPA, USDA?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yes.

QUESTION: And I mean, as somebody who covers the environment, we have people who are really reluctant to go after Big Ag on anything. So how do you resolve that?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Right. Well, there’s all of the U.S. Government agencies that are involved in that are going to be here. We are also having folks involved in the industry here. And I don’t think we’re going to solve that as a huge problem and we’re not going to completely solve it at this conference. I think the idea though is that we can point the way to what we need to be doing very concretely so that things can progress and can be followed up on and can be measured. And that’s what we’re looking at trying to do.

QUESTION: Okay. I had one thing.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yeah.

MR. BALTON: So just following up from what Secretary Kerry said in further answer to your question on fishing, which is clearly what I think he’s – thinks about most when he thinks about the oceans. Anybody who is looking at world fisheries would say there’s two big problems we need to find solutions. We need to end overfishing – and there are a lot of steps to take to do that. We’re actually doing a pretty good job in the United States on that, by the way. And while we may not be able to end illegal fishing totally, there are a lot of things we can do to stop illegally harvested fish from entering the stream of commerce. Those are two big things we really hope to drive forward in this agenda for fisheries at our conference.

QUESTION: What about whaling, since you mentioned that the prime minister of Norway is coming?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Well, we – there are lots of issues about whaling. We aren’t planning on having the conference focus on whaling per se, but we obviously oppose whaling that is not scientifically justified. And we urge countries to not engage in those practices.

QUESTION: Two questions. One I doubt you’ll answer. (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: I love when I get those in the briefing. (Laughter.)

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Boy, that’s nice of you to —

MS. HARF: I know.

QUESTION: My favorite color is blue. (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: Those are my favorite.

QUESTION: I hear a lot of griping within NOAA about enforcement cutbacks and budget cutbacks (inaudible). So that’s the one that – (laughter). The question, I guess, is will NOAA be there.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: NOAA will absolutely be there.

QUESTION: Is there any discussion of reversing the trend of funding cutbacks or enforcement cutbacks?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Well, NOAA will be there and they are fully supportive of this agenda. In fact, they’ve been very enthusiastic of working with us on this. So I guess that’s about as far as I can go.

QUESTION: Yeah. And then the other question, I guess, is magic pipe cases. And DOJ – over the last decade DOJ’s really been effective and aggressive in going after intentional polluting. So will there be a panel or something – some presentation that DOJ is going to put on about intentional dumping or magic pipe cases?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: I don’t – that wasn’t – no.

MR. BALTON: There’s nobody from DOJ presenting.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yeah.

MR. BALTON: That topic is likely to be touched on. It’s not a problem only in the United States, right? So a lot of the speakers who are coming from other countries will describe their version of this issue.

QUESTION: Can I ask a Legal Seafoods question given that the Secretary brought that up?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Their CEO is legendary for backpedaling on this and saying that he does not serve consistently sustainable seafood. It’s widely known he’s boycotted basically anyone who upholds sustainable seafood does not go to Legal Seafoods. So I guess obviously he could be giving a policy announcement that would change that, but I was just wondering if you could explain why someone who’s actually made his mark by questioning the value of only serving sustainable seafood would come to a conference on the oceans.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Well, we have to have everybody come here. I mean, we have to get everybody on the bandwagon to go in the right direction. And he’s well aware of the purpose of the conference, and so I think the fact that he’s chosen to come is – I have no understanding that he’s coming here to preach everybody should eat unsustainable seafood. (Laughter.) So I think actually we have been pretty clear about wanting folks who are coming with solutions to be here and to be speaking. And —

QUESTION: Does he have a speaking role?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: No.

MR. BALTON: No. But there are a lot of people in the – who are promoting sustainable seafood —

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: — who are coming.

MR. BALTON: — who are coming. Monterrey Bay has their card. The Marine Stewardship Council has – their processor, actually a proliferation of these, and virtually all of them are represented in our conference.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: And the CEO of Bumble Bee Tuna is going to be speaking. So —

QUESTION: And will Roger Berkowitz be listening to those people who are coming? (Laughter.)

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Well, if he didn’t want to listen to them, then I assume he wouldn’t have showed – I can’t speak for him, right? So you’ll have to ask them.

QUESTION: So is he just an attendee? I mean, he’s attending?

MR. BALTON: So there are almost 400 people coming to the conference. There are speaking roles for maybe 20 or 30, right? Just the way these conferences work.

QUESTION: Are there people you wish were coming who are – who couldn’t, who are either major violators or potentially good partners or both on some of these issues who are not coming?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: I think we’ve tried —

QUESTION: I mean representatives of countries or —

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: We tried to invite a very broad swath of folks. And when you have over 80 countries represented, that’s – I think we think that’s a pretty good swath of people. I don’t think we had anybody turn us down who we asked to come.

QUESTION: Really? So there’s not – there’s somebody – there aren’t certain empty places at the —

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: From countries.

QUESTION: Yeah. At the table that you wish were – if there’s somebody you – some country that you wish or some entity that you wish were represented and is not?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: No. Actually, no. I mean, this is a pretty robust group of attendees. And we – like I said, nobody turned us down. I mean, some individual people had scheduling conflicts, but in terms of the countries we are extremely represented across the whole globe.

MR. BALTON: India had an election just a few weeks ago.

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Right.

MR. BALTON: And so their new foreign minister was not – couldn’t make it on the schedule, but there will be Indians at the conference, just to give you an example.

QUESTION: As well as Chinese —

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yes.

MR. BALTON: Yes. In fact, the head of the State Oceanographic Administration, Administrator Liu, will have a speaking role at our conference.

QUESTION: And Southeast Asia – are there people from there?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Yes, absolutely.

MS. HARF: A few more. Anyone? A few more last questions?

QUESTION: This is a novice question that’s not really important. But my understanding is that the European Union is on the cusp of deciding whether to impose some sort of ban on South Korean fish and that next year sometime the U.S. will be engaging in a similar analysis. That – so will that topic be part of next week’s discussion?

UNDER SECRETARY NOVELLI: Do you want to take that?

MR. BALTON: Yeah. So Maria Damanaki, who is the commissioner for the EU who does Maritime Affairs and Fisheries is coming. She actually also has a speaking role at our conference. And she’ll be talking about the – I assume – the EU’s approach to trying to prevent illegally harvested fish from entering their market.

We have our own approach to doing that that’s not entirely similar to the EU’s but maybe growing more similar over time. Yes, the EU is looking at Korea among other countries and maybe headed to a decision. I don’t know. You’ll have to ask her when she’s here. And we have our own process of going through fishing practices by other countries under the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act, and countries who are having vessels engage in these practices are put on notice by us and it can ultimately lead to trade sanctions against them.

MS. HARF: I think that’s all the time we have today. We will be doing a transcript of this, so I know you all took very good notes, but we will get you that as soon as it’s done. Any follow-ups, of course you know how to find me or anyone else in the Press Office. And we’re looking forward to next week. Thanks for coming today.

*foreign minister