World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is encouraging President Barack Obama to think innovatively as his administration considers its priorities for the next four years. In a letter sent this month to the White House, WWF Vice President for U.S. Government Relations Todd Shelton outlined WWF’s top priorities for conservation, climate and environmental initiatives in the President’s second term.
Dear President Barack Obama:
On behalf of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), I would like to congratulate you on your reelection. WWF looks forward to working with you and your administration over the next four years to build on the significant progress you have already made.
As you consider priorities for your second term, I encourage you to think innovatively when it comes to environmental policy. In the 21st century, America’s foreign policy must clearly address the reality that environmental pressures and resource scarcities around the world increasingly affect American prosperity. Developing the capacity of nations and communities to manage their natural resources effectively and sustainably is integral to solving our own economic, national security and foreign policy challenges.
Such a forward-looking approach to America’s global engagement will pay dividends over the long run. The U.S. needs to lead by example and support other nations as they struggle to meet these challenges. With this in mind, we offer the following recommendations as early actions for your second term:
The current budget negotiations present an opportunity to create a U.S. tax policy that is fair and generates needed revenue. WWF asks that you continue your call to remove fossil fuel subsidies and take steps to accomplish that goal. We also call on you to support pricing carbon pollution, and to protect clean energy incentives. Lastly, we urge you to protect those investments that support international conservation and fulfill our commitments to help developing countries address climate change.
Poor management of natural resources leads to scarcity and encourages illegal activity. The effect is twofold: local communities are robbed of the economic benefits of their resources, and legitimate businesses are forced to compete with a flood of cheap, illegal products on the global market, resulting in the loss of American jobs. We ask that you protect and defend U.S. laws designed to prevent illegal trade in natural resources, including the Lacey Act and its 2008 Amendments relating to timber and timber products. We also ask that you continue to push for a strong environmental chapter in the Trans Pacific Partnership – one which prohibits trade in resources harvested or exported illegally, holds countries to high standards for management of their resources (including fisheries and forests), and reins in fishing subsidies.
We urge you to build on Secretary of State Clinton’s commitment to make fighting wildlife crime and illicit trade in endangered species a U.S. foreign policy priority. The illegal trade in wildlife products, valued at roughly $8-10 billion annually, is a serious and lucrative transnational organized crime strongly linked to other criminal activities, such as human trafficking and the drug and arms trades. It is devastating wildlife populations, robbing communities of livelihoods and providing a source of financing for groups tied to violent insurgencies and terrorism. We ask that you explicitly recognize the global illicit trade in wildlife and wildlife parts as a transnational organized crime, as defined in the Transnational Organized Crime Strategy and Executive Order 13582, and direct all relevant agencies to take the necessary steps and dedicate the needed resources to combat it effectively.
In 2015, the global community has another window to create an effective international agreement to respond to the looming climate crisis. Your leadership over the next three years will be critical to negotiating that treaty and preparing the United States to support it. Hurricane Sandy has created an important moment to help the American people understand our vulnerabilities in the face of a changing climate. WWF calls on you to help connect the dots between carbon pollution and extreme weather and lead a national conversation among governors, city leaders, businesses, civil society, Republicans and Democrats that can produce a clear plan to prepare for climate change and put the United States in a position to lead the world in firmly facing this challenge.
We urge you to work with the 113th Congress to pass a long-term farm bill that conserves native prairie, wetlands, and wildlife habitat, upon which the future of sustainable agriculture, food security, and healthy land and water resources depend.
WWF looks forward to working with you over the coming four years in support of our common goals and to ensure a safe, sustainable and bountiful future for current generations, as well as those to come. The next few years will prove critical. With your leadership, we are confident that success is within our grasp.
Todd D. Shelton
Vice President for U.S. Government Relations
World Wildlife Fund
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Media contact: Chris Conner, 202-495-4786