Making the world’s case for water and biodiversity

Monica Medina speaking at the lectern (State Dept.)
Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs and Special Envoy for Biodiversity and Water Resources Monica Medina speaks at the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya on 1 march. (Department of State)

Monica Medina, the first United States Special Envoy for Biodiversity and Water Resources, believes there has never been a more important time for diplomats to champion the protection and restoration of nature.

“I’m truly honored to have this role and this title,” she told ShareAmerica. “We are in a world where the loss of nature is overwhelming and poses a real potential threat to the health of the planet and the health of people.”

With her appointment in late September, Medina has become one of the US government’s top leaders in environmental conservation and addressing the climate crisis. Medina is also Assistant Secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Monica Medina posing in front of vegetation (State Dept.)
Medina attends the Stockholm+50 environmental meeting in Sweden on June 3. (Department of State)

Protect biodiversity

Medina’s new role allows her to be a champion in the protection of many plant and animal species around the world.

The environmental threats she will address with world leaders include crimes against nature such as:

  • Illegal connection.
  • Illegal mining.
  • Illegal conversion of land for agriculture.
  • Wildlife trafficking.
  • Fishing-related crimes.

“These have profound, harmful and lasting impacts on biodiversity and on the availability of resources like clean, safe water,” she says. “We are determined as much as possible to try to deal with all these crises at the same time.”

Increase water security

Making clean and safe water accessible to all is one of Medina’s top priorities.

State Department measurements suggest that two-thirds of the world’s population will experience water scarcity by 2025. These people will not be able to meet their basic life needs.

This is largely due to the extreme weather patterns – droughts and floods – created around the world by the climate crisis.

Medina explains that water scarcity and poor water quality affect people’s health and livelihoods. Water scarcity can increase disease, limit agriculture and hinder economic growth.

Monica Medina posing next to a screen showing a wave (State Dept.)
Medina participates in discussions at the Society of Environmental Journalists’ 31st annual conference in Houston on April 1. (Department of State)

Part of her job will be to help implement the White House’s Global Water Security Action Plan (PDF, 400 KB).

“We see water scarcity as a growing threat to peace and security in many parts of the world, so we have made it a priority,” Medina said. “The Department of State is working with partners and allies around the world to strengthen water cooperation and engage on water management issues.”

In her role as United States Special Envoy for Biodiversity and Water Resources, Medina will participate in the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) and the United Nations Convention on biological diversity over the next month. There, she will work to develop climate solutions in partnership with other countries.

“We are working to advance our climate ambition, to build resilience to climate change and to really get as strong an outcome as possible from COP27,” she said. “We, as the United States, bring a lot of things there.”

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