What Does the State Department of Natural Resources Do to Protect the Environment?

The United States Department of State provides overall direction for all US agencies working in Central & Eastern Europe region to help people reduce soil erosion, improve water supply & quality & increase wildlife habitat.

What Does the State Department of Natural Resources Do to Protect the Environment?

The United States Department of State (USDOS) provides overall direction, coordination, and leadership for all of the U. S. agencies working in the region, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States Forest Service (FS), the United States National Park Service (NPS) and the Department of Energy (DOE). Our natural resource conservation programs help people reduce soil erosion, improve water supply, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce damage caused by floods and other natural disasters.

At the beginning of the transition from centrally planned economies to market-driven economies in the Central and Eastern Europe region, the United States Government (USG) accepted the opportunity to provide assistance in the areas of management environmental and natural resources in cooperation with the countries of the region. U. agencies have shared their experience with counterpart organizations and individuals in the region to help them address environmental problems that had endangered human health, undermined long-term economic growth and threatened ecological systems essential to sustainable development. The approach to environmental assistance continues to respond to the needs articulated by various entities of the host country, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), in the area of environmental and natural resource management, through technical assistance and training in areas where the Government believes that the United States has the highest levels of experience.

Technical assistance and training are coordinated with other donors active in the area. As a result, strong, substantive and sustainable environmental programs have been developed throughout the region. National boundaries generally do not limit environmental issues. Environmental and natural resource management activities are regional in nature.

In addition, not all countries have the same capacity to address their environmental and natural resource management problems. Activities in some countries have benefited from approaches used in other countries. Sustainable progress as a result of U. interventions in environmental and natural resource management have been felt throughout the region.

Legislative advances in this area have been felt in other sectors of countries that received assistance. Pollution levels have fallen, while investment and environmental protection have increased dramatically. Members of businesses, local governments, communities and industries have been trained with necessary environmental and natural resource management skills and are successfully continuing their efforts even in those countries where U. bodies are no longer present.

Bodies of water are rarely found within national borders; a problem upstream or on a lake shore in one country soon becomes a problem in another country downstream or on another country's lakeside. As a result, many water-related problems are transboundary in nature. The amount of finite water resource demands for human consumption, agricultural consumption, industrial and commercial processes, and transportation highlights its importance as a valuable natural resource. The United States has provided technical assistance and training through specific purchases of equipment and materials; activities have resulted in increased public investment, better public participation and greater compliance with national and international water management standards.

In addition, successful experiences in one country in this region have proven applicable to other countries as well. USAID efforts have focused on improving functioning of Toktogul Reservoir where winter energy needs of Kyrgyz Republic, irrigation needs of countries bordering river & schedule of environmental flows to Aral Sea are found; USAID has carried out combination of consensus-building activities, short-term studies & several actions on ground to promote reservoir management that better meets needs of all participants; transboundary water management problems are found throughout region & U. has acted to help address several serious situations; USAID supports management of natural resources in Syr Darya River & USEPA is working in Kazakhstan through International Center for Environmental Finance to help local villages better manage their water systems.

Geoff Ritschard
Geoff Ritschard

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