CEOs Urge U.S. Government to Preserve International Funding for Environment, Development

Written by Lisa Hayden on . Posted in Act, Learn, The Wonk Room

CEOs from some of the country’s leading faith-based, conservation, development and humanitarian organizations today sent a letter to Obama administration officials asking them to preserve America’s commitments to international funding aimed at protecting vulnerable people around the world and the natural systems they depend upon for survival.

“As cuts to the federal budget continue to be discussed, we hope Congress does not reduce the already-modest international climate and conservation funding,” said Mark Tercek, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy and one of the signers of the letter. “This funding is importantly linked to promotion of global stability and security, creating economic opportunities for U.S. businesses and workers, alleviating global poverty, confronting global health challenges, ensuring cost savings through disaster prevention, and addressing the consequences of a changing climate.”

The CEOs sent the letter to Jacob J. Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and other administration officials.

Along with The Nature Conservancy, other groups signing the letter are American Values Network, CARE, Church World Service, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Investigation Agency, League of Women Voters, National Wildlife Federation, Oxfam America, Population Action International, Progressive National Baptist Convention, Refugees International, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth and the World Wildlife Fund.

The House has proposed to significantly cut – and in some cases entirely eliminate — funding for important international conservation, development and humanitarian programs. These programs comprise a tiny fraction of government spending but have played a powerful role in assisting vulnerable communities around the world while also solidifying the United States’ position as global leader.

The U.S. invests only about three cents of every $100 on international climate programs and the House proposal would cut this number by 40 percent or more. The cuts would translate into significant reductions to programs making a difference around the world.

The leaders wrote in the letter: “We recognize the difficulty of the task with which you are confronted, requiring tradeoffs of many important programs across the span of the federal budget. However, programs to address global hunger, poverty, climate change, conservation and disaster relief comprise less than 1% of the U.S. federal budget, and a small proportion of that amount – less than .03% of the total federal budget – goes specifically to climate programs.”

Noting the important commitments of programs that promote resilience to extreme weather impacts, reduce deforestation, and invest in clean technologies in developing countries, the letter continues: “These international programs play an outsized role in contributing to the United States’ standing in the world, not only through their fulfillment of commitments made in high-profile international negotiations, but through the positive effects they have on people and communities throughout the developing nations of the world. We ask your help in defending these programs.”

Lisa Hayden is climate change writer for The Nature Conservancy

Photo: © Bridget Besaw 2009 (Carbon monitoring of forests in Berau district, East Kalimantan, Indonesia)


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