October 3, 2022

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Area Control Network

United States Announces Commitments at Seventh Our Ocean Conference

25 min read

Office of the Spokesperson

The seventh Our Ocean Conference – hosted by the Republic of Palau and the United States –brought together governments and non-state actors to make concrete commitments to protect ocean health and security.  The United States announced more than 110 commitments, from 14 agencies and offices, worth nearly $2.64 billion.  These commitments spanned the issue areas of the conference, including climate change, sustainable fisheries, sustainable blue economies, marine protected areas, maritime security, and marine pollution.

Titles of commitments appear below by issue area.  For more details on individual commitments – including descriptions, agency/department, and budget, if applicable – see the map viewer at https://ourocean2022.pw/commitments/.

Climate Change

The seventh Our Ocean Conference highlighted the ocean-climate nexus and the role of ocean-based climate solutions – including shipping decarbonization, marine nature-based solutions, and offshore renewable energy – in keeping the 1.5°C goal within reach and improving global climate resilience.  As the ocean-climate nexus was a cross-cutting theme of the conference, climate commitments appeared throughout the six sessions (see, for example, the sustainable blue economies session).  U.S. announcements included:

  • USD 582 Million to Enhance Ocean and Climate Observations, Modeling, and Services
  • USD 161.5 Million for the National Coastal Resilience Fund
  • USD 107.9 Million for the Development and Operation of a NASA Instrument to Observe Coastal Ecosystems
  • USD 65 Million from NSF to Launch the Global Ocean Biogeochemistry Array (GO-BGC Array)
  • USD 52 Million from NSF for the Coastlines and People (CoPe) Hubs for Research and Broadening Participation
  • USD 25 Million from NSF for the Science and Technology Center for Chemical Currencies of a Microbial Planet
  • USD 20 Million from NSF for the AI Institute for Research on Trustworthy AI in Weather, Climate, and Coastal Oceanography (AI2ES)
  • USD 15 Million for the Delta-X Mission
  • The Climate Resilient Cities Project in the Philippines
  • USD 12 Million over 4 Years for a Coordinated Effort to Better Understand Sea Level Rise and Develop Improved Projections of its Future Changes
  • USD 11 Million for the ECCO (Estimating Circulation and Climate of the Ocean) Science Team
  • USD 7.5 Million for a Coordinated Effort to Better Understand Biological Changes at High Latitudes
  • USD 7 Million for the SASSIE (Salinity and Stratification at the Sea Ice Edge) Mission
  • The Local Works Program in Bangladesh
  • Intention to Provide USD 5 Million in Climate-Focused Funds for the Pacific Islands Subject to Domestic Approvals and Other Requirements
  • Support for Climate Change Adaptation in Sri Lanka and the Maldives
  • USD 4 Million Toward Launch of New Climate Information for Sanctuaries Initiative
  • Intention to Provide USD 3 Million to Support Placing a Climate Fellow in Koror, Subject to Completion of Domestic Procedures
  • USD 1.3 Million to Monitor Ocean Acidification
  • Intention to Provide USD 1 Million to Support the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance, Subject to Completion of Domestic Procedures and Other Requirements
  • Technical Assistance to Help Countries Deploy Additional Offshore Wind Assets Subject to Domestic Procedures and Other Requirements
  • USD 1 Million for Capacity Development in the Pacific Islands to Monitor Ocean Acidification
  • Intention to Provide $500,000 to Support a New Climate Early Warning and Adaptation Initiative to Increase the Capacity for Anticipating and Preparing for Current and Future Climates in Island Countries, Subject to Completion of Domestic Procedures and Other Requirements, as part of PREPARE
  • Intention to Provide USD 500,000 to Support Mission Innovation, specifically the Zero-Emission Shipping Mission, Subject to Completion of Domestic Procedures and Other Requirements
  • USD 300,000 to Support the Pacific Islands Health Officers Association in Crafting a Climate-Based Dengue Early Warning System in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau
  • Embassy Koror will Become the First Net-Zero U.S. Diplomatic Mission
  • A New International Partnership on MPAs, Biodiversity and Climate Change with Chile, France, Costa Rica, and the UK
  • The Carbon Negative Shot – the All-Hands-on-Deck Call for Innovation in Technologies and Approaches
  • The Blue Carbon Inventory Project
  • The Launch of a New Climate and Fisheries Initiative
  • The 2022 Sea Level Rise Technical Report
  • The United States Assumed Leadership of and Will Provide Financial Support for the International Coral Reef Initiative and Offers a Three-Year Plan of Action

Sustainable Fisheries

The sustainable fisheries session underscored issues including the contribution of fisheries to food security, the importance of considering labor conditions in the fisheries value chain, and the need to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.  U.S. announcements included:

  • The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish
  • The Feed the Future Ghana Fisheries Recovery Activity (GFRA)
  • The OurFish OurFuture Program
  • Enhanced Coastal Fisheries in Bangladesh (ECOFISH) II
  • Support for Regional Efforts to Combat IUU Fishing in Southeast Asia as the USAID Sustainable Fish Asia (SUFIA) Technical Services
  • A Project to Mitigate Risk in Fisheries via USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance
  • An Initiative to Enhance Cooperative Fisheries Management and Compliance in Coastal Pacific Fisheries
  • USD 5 Million to Strengthen Decent Work in the Fishing Sector in South America
  • The Establishment of the USAID Sustainable Fish Asia Local Capacity Development Activity
  • USD 4 Million to Strengthen Rural Worker Rights, including in the Philippine Fishing Sector
  • USD 2.5 Million to Address Labor Exploitation in the Fishing Sector in Southeast Asia
  • A USAID and NOAA Joint Effort to Support PSMA Implementation, Combat IUU Fishing, and Strengthen Fisheries Management in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia
  • The Women Shellfishers and Food Security Project
  • Support to Strengthen Natural Resource Governance in Ecuador
  • An Additional Year and Funding for the Seafood Alliance for Legality and Traceability
  • The Distant Water Fleet Research Agenda

Sustainable Blue Economies

Sustainable blue economies advance ocean health alongside economic prosperity, providing sustainable food, power, and transportation.  U.S. announcements included:

  • Continued Support for the Integrated Ocean Observing System Regional Associations
  • Support for Critical Wave Energy Test Facility PacWave
  • USD 30 Million to Support Implementation of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development
  • USD 25 Million for Open-Water R&D at PacWave
  • Technical Assistance for Energy Transition Planning for Remote, Island, and Islanded Communities
  • A Multi-Agency Goal to Deploy 30 Gigawatts of Offshore Wind by 2030
  • USD 11 Million from NSF for the Networked Blue Economy Convergence Accelerator
  • The United States Is Sending Six Wave-Powered Autonomous Underwater Vehicles to a Wave Tank Test at Carderock in the Fourth Stage of the Ocean Observing Prize
  • USD 8.3 Million to Support Ocean Observing, Mapping, and Exploration Efforts
  • Support for Ocean Testing of Four Wave-Powered Desalination Devices in the Final Stage of the Waves to Water Prize
  • The Marine and Coastal Areas Restored through Innovative and Sustainable Aquaculture (MARISA) Partnership
  • Funding for Six Projects for the Co-existence of Offshore Energy with Northeast United States Fishing and Coastal Communities
  • A Framework for Green Shipping Corridors
  • Joining of the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology will Develop and Update Reference Materials to Support the Sustainable Blue Economy and Marine Pollution Research
  • Efforts to Advance the Development of Marine Aquaculture to Support the Blue Economy

Marine Protected Areas

The marine protected areas session focused on the climate, biodiversity, and community benefits of marine protection; it also highlighted funding for research and monitoring, improved implementation and management of marine protected areas, and resilience, adaptation, and restoration.  U.S. announcements included:

  • Efforts to Support Coastal Zone Management, Restoration, and Habitat Conservation
  • Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Ocean, and Landscapes
  • The Mekong Delta Coastal Habitat Conservation Activity
  • Support for Ocean Mapping of Palau National Marine Sanctuary
  • Efforts to Enhance Coral Conservation and Resilience Through the Launch of Domestic and Global Status Reports, Strategies for the Prevention of and Response to Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease, and Grants for Coral Restoration
  • Nearly USD 200,000 to improve MPA Management in Indonesia by Supporting Efforts to Expand Small-Scale Vessel Tracking
  • The Designation of New Marine Protected Areas in Wisconsin and Connecticut
  • The “Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. National Park Service of the Department of the Interior of the United States of America and the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Palau Concerning Protected Area Planning, Training, and Technical Collaboration”
  • Forthcoming Launch of a Working Group or Commission to Evaluate Naming Practices for Existing and Future Marine National Monuments and National Marine Sanctuaries
  • Joining of the High Ambition Coalition for People and Nature
  • A New Global “Ocean Conservation Pledge,” Which Aims to Encourage Countries to Commit to Conserve, Protect, or Restore at Least 30% of Waters under Their National Jurisdiction by 2030
  • The Initiation of Three National Marine Sanctuary Designations
  • The Establishment and Development of the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area
  • An Expansion of Membership of the Marine Protected Area Agency Partnership (MPAAP)
  • The Signing of an Indo-Pacific MPA Partnership with the Republic of Palau
  • The Development of a New Climate Ready MPA Assessment Tool

Maritime Security

The maritime security session emphasized the links between maritime security and IUU fishing, the need for law enforcement capacity building aimed at multiple illicit activities, and the need for improved information sharing and international coordination.   U.S. announcements included:

  • USD 6.5 Million from NSF for the Design and Construction of a New Generation of Ocean-Bottom Seismographs for the U.S. Academic Community
  • USD 5 Million to Advance Labor Compliance in Colombia’s Port Sector
  • Support for Interpol’s Efforts to Reduce Illegal Fishing
  • New Arrangements Between the U.S. Coast Guard and the Coast Guards of Italy, and Taiwan
  • The Establishment of the U.S. Interagency Working Group on IUU Fishing
  • A Maritime Security Advisor Program in the Pacific
  • A Commitment Towards Cooperative Fisheries Law Enforcement on the High Seas
  • Support for Partner Capacity Building to Combat IUU Fishing via a New Five-Day Counter-IUU Fishing Course
  • A Maritime Information Sharing (MIS) Table-Top exercise with the EU-funded project CRIMARIO II, in Palau
  • The Ocean Prosperity and Maritime Security (OPMS) Partnership

Marine Pollution

The marine pollution session featured efforts and programs that target marine plastic, the fisheries sector, maritime transport, and infrastructure development.  It also featured recycling initiatives and lifecycle approaches for plastics; clean-ups and remediation/restoration efforts; and research and innovation.  U.S. announcements included:

  • USD 350 Million in Improvements to Recycling Infrastructure to Reduce Land-Based Sources of Plastic Waste to the Marine Environment
  • USD 200 Million to Prevent and Remove Marine Debris
  • National Estuary Program Infrastructure Investments for Projects that will Reduce Pollutant Loadings into Freshwater Ecosystems and the Ocean
  • Support for U.S. States to Implement the Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan
  • The USAID Clean Cities, Blue Ocean Program
  • USD 37 Million for the Department of Energy’s BOTTLE Program to Improve Plastic Recycling
  • A Funding Opportunity for Research on Chemical Upcycling of Polymers
  • More than USD 24 Million for Two Energy Frontier Research Centers Related to Plastics
  • USD 8 Million from NSF for the Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation Engineering the Elimination of End-of-Life Plastics Program (EFRI E3P)
  • Intention to Provide USD 5 Million to Combat Marine Pollution via Support for Pillar 2 of the World Bank’s PROBLUE Multi-Donor Trust Fund Subject to Congressional Notification and Availability of Funds
  • A USAID Blended Finance Partnership with Circulate Capital
  • USAID’s Local Solutions for Plastic Pollution Activity
  • The Plastics Solution Alliance
  • Over USD 859,000 to Monitor Nutrient Drivers of Coastal Dead Zones
  • USD 810,000 to Establish the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Marine Debris Management and Innovation Sub-Fund
  • USD 180,000 for a Grant to Build Capacity for Environmentally Sound Management of Plastic Waste in West Africa
  • A Cooperative Arrangement to Establish Center for Marine Debris Research
  • The Department of Energy’s Plastics Innovation Research and Development Strategy
  • Joining of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology Biorepository Will Archive Marine Animal Tissues to Support Marine Research
  • A Forthcoming Strategy for Post-Consumer Materials Management and Water Management

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  • National Weather Service: Reform Efforts Could Benefit from Additional Actions and Continued Attention
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    What GAO Found The Department of Commerce’s National Weather Service (NWS) initiated the Evolve Program in 2017 to carry out a series of agency reforms to help achieve its strategic vision of strengthening the nation’s readiness for and response to extreme weather events. The program has 20 reform initiatives, in varying stages of completeness, that are intended to free up staff time and improve service to the agency’s partners (e.g., state emergency managers), among other things. In September 2021, GAO found that NWS has substantially followed five of the eight leading practices for effective agency reforms that GAO examined. Extent to Which NWS Has Followed Selected Leading Practices for Effective Agency Reforms Practice Extent followed Establishing goals and outcomes ◒ Involving employees and key stakeholders ◒ Using data and evidence ● Addressing fragmentation, overlap, and duplication ● Leadership focus and attention ◒ Managing and monitoring ● Strategic workforce planning ● Employee performance management ● Legend: ● Substantially followed —NWS took actions that addressed most or all aspects of the selected key questions GAO examined for the practice. ◒ Partially followed —NWS took actions that addressed some, but not most, aspects of the selected key questions GAO examined for the practice. Source: GAO analysis of National Weather Service (NWS) documents and interviews with NWS officials. | GAO-22-105449 However, there are gaps in the extent to which the agency has followed the other three leading practices. For example, in the area of leadership focus and attention, NWS has designated three leadership positions as having primary responsibility for leading the implementation of the reforms under the Evolve Program. However, the agency has not established a dedicated implementation team with the capacity to manage the reform process. Instead, the agency has primarily relied on rotating leaders and part-time staff for the Evolve Program, an approach that has not provided adequate leadership continuity, staff continuity, or staff resources for the program. By revising its approach to staffing the Evolve Program and addressing the other gaps, as GAO recommended in September 2021, NWS would have better assurance its reform efforts will succeed. The agency also faces staffing challenges that could affect its reform efforts. In its 2019 strategic human capital plan, NWS highlighted challenges related to staffing levels, vacancies, and hiring that could affect the agency’s resources and capacity to implement its proposed reforms. These are long-standing issues that have been highlighted in previous studies, including a May 2017 GAO report. In September 2021, GAO found that these challenges continue. Continued attention to addressing these staffing challenges could help to reduce the risk that they will impede the agency’s reform efforts. Why GAO Did This Study Extreme weather events, such as tornadoes and hurricanes, can devastate communities across the United States. NWS plays a critical role in the nation’s efforts to prepare for and respond to such events, including by developing weather forecasts and issuing warnings to help protect life and property. NWS has determined that it needs to reform its operations and workforce to effectively carry out its responsibilities and to improve its provision of services to emergency managers and other partners. This testimony discusses (1) the extent to which NWS has followed selected leading practices for effective agency reforms and (2) staffing challenges NWS faces as it pursues its reform efforts. The testimony is based on a report GAO issued in September 2021, GAO-21-103792, on the agency’s reform efforts, as well as previous GAO work on NWS from May 2017 and January 2020.

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