The Department of State, through the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), engages with the world to build a healthier planet, a goal essential to the vitality and security of our Nation – and other nations – today and into the future. The Department of State, through OES, champions the role of science, technology, and innovation in foreign policy as an integral element of strengthening relationships, informing policy decisions, solving problems, and stimulating economic growth. OES issues, including ocean acidification and other climate-related impacts on the ocean, are part of the fabric of United States bilateral, regional, and multilateral relationships and typically represent positive aspects for engagement within the broad foundation that defines these relationships. Engaging on ocean acidification and other scientific issues provides the United States with opportunities to advance stability and economic growth globally.
Secretary of State John Kerry will host the third Our Ocean conference in Washington, D.C., September 15–16, 2016, focusing again on the key ocean issues of marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and climate-related impacts on the ocean, including ocean acidification. The Our Ocean conference, a Department of State initiative, has become an effective mechanism to identify commitments for significant and meaningful actions to protect the ocean and has complemented other international efforts addressing threats to the ocean. Participants at the past two conferences, held in Washington, D.C., in 2014 and in Valparaiso, Chile, in 2015, pledged almost $4 billion to conservation activities and committed to safeguard nearly 6 million square kilometers of ocean in marine protected areas. The 2016 conference again will focus on identifying commitments for action by participants and other stakeholders, as well as on following up on commitments made in previous years. Also, the Department of State, through voluntary contributions to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Peaceful Uses Initiative, continues to support the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Center located at the Environment Laboratories in Monaco.
Ocean acidification is irreversibly impacting marine ecosystems, including important fisheries. Secretary of State John Kerry highlighted this issue during the 2014 Our Ocean Conference, committing to increase worldwide ocean acidification monitoring capacity by significantly increasing the number of trained monitors and managers by 2020. The OceAn pH Research Integration and Collaboration in Africa (ApHRICA) is a public-private partnership of government, civil society, and private stakeholders focusing on building capacity and closing data gaps for ocean acidification in Africa. This partnership is a recipient of Leveraging, Engaging, and Accelerating through Partnerships funding from the Secretary of State’s Office of Global Partnerships. It will provide resources to build ocean acidification monitoring in the Indian Ocean, enhance capacity-building workshops, facilitate connections to global efforts, and explore business cases for new ocean acidification monitoring and countering technologies.
The United States has also elevated ocean acidification as a priority initiative during its chairmanship of the Arctic Council, and is seeking ways to enhance monitoring of ocean acidification throughout the entire Arctic Ocean. As part of the United States Arctic Council Chairmanship Priorities, the Department of State in conjunction with NOAA is planning a workshop intended to launch efforts to conduct a vulnerability assessment of the ocean acidification in the Arctic. It is hoped that the outcomes of this workshop and assessment will be included in the 2nd Arctic Ocean Acidification, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, slated for publication in 2017, near the conclusion of the United States Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.