Earth Day 2021 – Opportunities for increased cooperation between the United States and Gabon

People in the United States have celebrated Earth Day every April 22 since 1970, when Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson and California Congressman Pete McCloskey first co-sponsored teach-ins on U.S. college campuses to increase public awareness about the deteriorating environment due to water and air pollution.  Beginning in 1990, under the auspices of the United Nations, Earth Day became a worldwide event, and celebrations that year mobilized more than 200 million people in 141 countries.  On Earth Day 2016, nearly 200 countries, including Gabon, signed the historic Paris Agreement, within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

On February 19, 2021, President Joe Biden returned the United States to the Paris Agreement and reaffirmed America’s commitment to combating global climate change.  In addition, he named Secretary John Kerry as our nation’s first Special Presidential Envoy for Climate to lead our efforts around the world.  Confronting the climate crisis requires unprecedented global cooperation, as well as a shared sense of urgency and ambition.  We can solve this crisis–but only if we work together.

Demonstrating our commitment to shared climate action, President Biden invited 40 world leaders to a virtual summit on the climate crisis on April 22-23.  The summit aims to encourage the world’s most developed nations to increase their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to mitigate global warming.  This summit will be a preparatory meeting for the 26th UN Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the UNFCCC in Glasgow in November 2021.  President Biden convened this summit to ensure close coordination on addressing the climate crisis with key heads of state.

Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba was among 40 world leaders to receive an invitation to President Biden’s Summit, and we are happy he has accepted the invitation.  Gabon and the United States have a long history of working together to combat transnational environmental crime, poaching, illegal logging, illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and other threats to preserving the forests and environment.  We both recognize that protecting our climate begins at the forest floor.

The U.S. Government supports initiatives aimed at preserving this biodiversity by fostering cooperation with Gabon including.

  • Improving law enforcement and cross-border cooperation in fighting against transnational environmental crime, in direct collaboration with government entities, international NGOs, and civil society organizations
  • Providing law enforcement training for park rangers
  • Reinforcing the institutional capacities of Gabon’s national park agency and network of protected areas
  • Providing support to counter illegal fishing and secure Gabon’s marine resources
  • Tracking the status of regional forests and wildlife
  • Monitoring the climate situation

The Leaders’ Summit on Climate and the United States’ reentry into the Paris Agreement present an opportunity for increased engagement with Gabon on this important issue.  The United States is proud to work with the Government of Gabon to adopt innovative steps in the fight against climate change, and we look forward to our continued cooperation.