A Conversation with Kerri-Ann Jones

Speaker:
Kerri-Ann Jones Assistant Secretary, Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Presider:
James M. Lindsay Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations
Audio
Transcript

RICHARD HAASS: Great. Well, good morning. Good morning. Welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations, and I'm Richard Haass, president of the CFR. For those of you who are not familiar with us, we are an independent, nonpartisan think tank, membership organization and publisher. And what we're trying to do day in, day out, year in, year out is work to improve awareness of and understanding of American foreign policy and the choices facing the United States and other people around the world. And we're trying to be a resource for the public, the business community, academics, journalists and our members.

We're particularly proud to be welcoming you here this morning because we have a partner with Conservation International, one of the premier if the not premier organization in the world devoted to raising awareness, and more than that, doing things to protect the environment around the world and to, as you'll see today, to raise awareness, and again, do things about increasing sustainability of our resources.

Now in the full disclosure department, let me -- I wouldn't call this a conflict of interest, I would call it a congruence of interest. My day job is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, but one of the ways I moonlight is as a board member of Conservation International. And it's only fair because the president of CI -- the founding president of CI, Peter Seligmann, is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. So we've got some connections going here.

We're particularly proud to welcome you here to this building here today, and there's a very good reason. This meeting is taking place in our LEED Gold Certified building. LEED, for those of you who are not aficionados, is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This building is certified at the -- at the Gold level, which is extraordinary because it's partly a historic building. And we're proud of it, and we -- one of the reasons we did it was to symbolize and underscore our commitment to the importance of thinking about the environment and acting on it in a responsible way. And it's something that is integral not simply to what we study but what we do here at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Peter's going to be speaking in a minute, and he'll say more about this extraordinary organization he has created and helped build over the decades, but what I want to do is say one or two things also about CI and also about the issues we're going to be discussing here for today. And what this is about is not simply conservation in the traditional sense. As important as that is, as important it is to protect and promote nature, it's more than that. And the mission of CI has evolved over the years, and now it's also about ensuring that ecosystems, that people in countries, societies depend on -- be it for food, air, water, what have you -- that they're maintained.

And the reason, again, is not simply because it's a good thing, but it's also a necessary thing. And what this is about is not simply the survival of this species that we are all part of but it's also about the viability of states. And that's why it's so important -- and in some ways that's why we are here today. This is not simply, if you will, a quote, unquote, "environmental issue," but it's also a national security issue. And for too long, I would argue, it -- concerns about the environment, concerns about conservation have been pigeonholed, if you will, or siloed for people who really care about those issues and really know about those issues.

And as I am often fond of saying, universities may have departments, but the world doesn't. And we simply don't have the luxury of siloing these issues, because what happens when it comes to the core environmental challenges facing a country, when it comes to its stock of resources, when it comes again to basic issues of their resources and their -- and their environment, it affects their economic viability and ultimately, it affects the viability of the -- of the country itself.

I mean -- what, in two decades, three decades, we're going to go north of 7 billion people on this planet to 8 (billion) or even conceivably 9 billion. It's going to create tremendous pressures on our -- on our resources for food and water and more, obviously energy. But it also creates all sorts of tensions potentially not simply within states but between them, and the possibility that energy and the implications of sustainability issues, refugee flows, internally displaced persons, all of this could put tremendous pressures on the international system at a time, shall we say, there are already sufficient pressures.

I'm particularly concerned with the issue of viability of states. Let me give you a prediction: In the 21st century for the coming decades, at least as big, if not a bigger, problem as strong states will be weak states. And these are states that simply don't have the capacity to manage what takes place within their borders. And that's one of the fundamental obligations of sovereignty.

And what we're seeing around the world in select places, and I fear we may see even more going forward, is the lack of capacity of states. And that's where terrorists take root, that's where pirates take root, that's where traffickers set up shop. And -- again, cartels of all sorts -- and so to the extent that sustainability issues undermine capacities of states, this then becomes not simply a domestic challenge to those societies, but will spill over. In this age of globalization, borders tend to be crossed with impunity.

And again, my point is simply that the issues of sustainability have to now be seen, I believe, through a much broader lens. This is a challenge for governments. This is a challenge for the private sector, as we'll be hearing today. This is a challenge for all those involved in the foreign policy and the national security debate.

Before turning things over to Peter, let me just also thank Rita Hauser. This is -- this program today is this year's annual Hauser Symposium. Work in this area depends upon the commitment and generosity and resources of individuals and foundations who basically believe that we need to have a capacity, if you will, in the institutional world as well. So I want to thank Rita Hauser, who's been a long-term supporter of the Council.

With that, let me turn things over to Peter Seligmann. Peter is -- in the nonprofit world, is often not associated with the word entrepreneur. We think of entrepreneurs as guys who -- and women who run around Silicon Valley and the like. Peter's an extraordinary entrepreneur. He has built up this organization over the decades, and he's made it a force. It's -- you know, I run a -- I'm lucky enough to head a think tank, and our principal widget is ideas. Peter runs a do tank. What CI has done around the world is, you know, quite remarkable in protecting forests and protecting ocean space and protecting coral areas, and in helping governments meet the challenges that we're talking about today, which is the challenge of sustainability.

So with that, Mr. Seligmann. (Applause.)

PETER SELIGMANN: Good morning. It's so nice to be here. And I'm very, very enthusiastic about our partnership with the council and appreciate the hard work that all the people of the council have put in with the CI team to pull this together.

I'm really looking forward to the discussions today. There are a lot of ideas, a lot of experiences that many of you have that if we pull them together and think carefully, maybe we'll discover some paths forward. And we really do need to find some new trails to go forward as we look at what our global society is facing today.

Richard touched upon, you know, much of the areas that we are really concerned about -- (audio break) -- you know, just to -- kind of the highlight kind of a moment of kind of awakening for me personally was just a few years ago, when I was thinking about the kind of the relevance and the impact that our organization, Conservation International, was having on the protection of biodiversity.

And as I added up all the wonderful successes as we were thinking about how we were going to increase support for the organization, I realized that really if you're objective about it, no matter, you know, how many new places are protected, the fact is that all these indicators are going in the wrong direction, that extinctions were accelerating, fisheries were being depleted and we're actually dealing with climate issues that are -- where the hundred-year storm is becoming the annual storm. And what we realize when we have 7 billion people going towards 9 billion is that every one of these major events impacts millions of people, and every one of these major events stresses out all the support systems that communities have. And when you get to that place, you begin to have security challenges and security issues.

And what we recognized at that point a few years ago was that this was actually not a biodiversity issue, this was a human issue. And at that point, we shifted our mission from protecting biodiversity to a mission of supporting human well being by maintaining ecosystems that give support and services, goods for people and societies all over the world.

And if we cannot get to the place where we recognize that we need nature to thrive, we're basically cooked. And it's OK for those of us who are kind of a little long in the tooth and old, but for the youngsters that's not a very good gift. And so we decided to redesign the organizations at CI to focus really on the simple issue of how do we protect nature for people, and how do you translate that into the real-life issues of a sustained source of food and water and energy and health? How do you -- how do you -- how do you really understand the contribution that healthy ecosystems make for livelihood? And all those issues, those are the issues that are essential for a healthy, desirable place to live. And as we undercut ecological health, we expose ourselves to frequently occurring disasters.

And so today we've got this convergence of dramatic shifts in weather. And whether it's the acidification of the ocean, or the loss of polar caps, or the extraordinary droughts, or floods, or amazing storms that hit us every year, or whether it's the simultaneous destruction of ecosystem health, we've got a convergence of challenges that have to be addressed.

These are national security issues, fundamental. They're as real, as palpable as cyber threat. They will undercut the stability of our societies and our nations. And that's why we're here today. We're here today to actually have that conversation. And it's not a new conversation. Secretary of State Baker spoke about it 20 years ago. Secretary of State Clinton spoke about it last year. I mean, it's not that it's a new issue, it's just an issue that has not received the intensity and the focus and the commitment to find answers.

And that's really why we wanted to partner with the council. It's an extraordinary organization. Richard Haass has played a really great, great role at Conservation International. You know, there is a thought that sometimes the people that are involved in the NGO community like to kind of close their eyes and cross their fingers and click their heels to make good things happen. And when I would do that, I would open my eyes and there's Richard saying, OK, that's really nice, but that's not the way it's going to happen. And so it's really important to actually put truth into the issues that we have to solve and address. And that's why I'm really pleased that so many of you are here because you're dealing with issues at a national level, at a business level. And if we bring these together with academia and with the NGO sector, we really can find some new answers, and that's really what we have to find.

And so with that, thank you so much for being here. Richard, thank you so much for hosting us. And let me turn it back to -- excuse me -- Mr. Lindsay. Thank you. Thank you, Jim Lindsay. Thank you. (Applause.)

JAMES LINDSAY: Good morning, everyone. I want to welcome you to the breakfast keynote session of today's CFR Conservation International Symposium on global resources, the U.S. economy and national security.

I'm James Lindsay, the director of the David Rockefeller Studies Program here at the Council on Foreign Relations. And as a reminder, this symposium, which is co-sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and Conservation International, is on the record.

It is my distinct honor to introduce our keynote speaker, Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones, who is assistant secretary of state for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

Assistant Secretary Jones has had a distinguished career. A graduate of Barnard College at Columbia University, she earned her Ph.D from the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University. Dr. Jones has served in several capacities within the U.S. government, including in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Jones has been assistant secretary since August of 2009 and her remit, the set of issues she's responsible for, includes, and let me read, ocean fisheries, the Arctic, Antarctica, conservation, biodiversity, climate change, water, toxic chemicals --

KERRI-ANN JONES: (Inaudible.)

LINDSAY: -- endemic preparedness, innovation and just to give her something to do in her spare time, space. (Laughter.) So Assistant Secretary Jones has a very full inbox, I would imagine. She is eminently qualified to kick off our symposium today.

So please join me in thanking her for coming.

JONES: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you.

LINDSAY: Dr. Jones, the title of today's symposium is Global Resources, the U.S. Economy and National Security. From where you sit in the State Department, what do you see as the most significant trends in global natural resources?

JONES: Well, thank you. And I'd first like to thank the organizers of this meeting. It's a very important conversation to have at this point in time.

From where I sit, I see some of the things that we heard from Richard and Peter, the increasing stress on the natural resource (base ?) from all different directions, including climate change, but also the increasing population, the drive to develop and just the general push to overusing what we have and not sort of thinking about what that means in the long term. So that's from the natural resource piece.

But from where I sit in the State Department, what I worry about is foreign policy and national security. And so seeing these issues now become more and more threats to stability, sustained economic growth, they're foreign policy issues, because I see them in all of the countries I visit as topics that are migrating from the isolation of a ministry of environment to the ministry of foreign affairs, to the national security discussion.

So the pressures there -- we all know what they are -- coming at every country from different directions, and then when you look at the different states of developments of countries, it depends on how their reaction is going to be. And this is a turning point for some countries, how they go forward and how we can help influence choices, as well as make sure we're making the right choices.

LINDSAY: Fair enough. If we may, Dr. Jones, can we sort of look at one issue here? Let's think about fisheries, ocean fisheries.

JONES: Right.

LINDSAY: Can you give us some sense of the nature of the problem?

JONES: Sure. I think the number is something like 57 percent of marine fisheries are now under threat moving towards being unsustainable, and perhaps there are already 30 percent that are in serious trouble. So the number is very high. It's close to 87 percent that are stressed.

So that's significant. It's significant because of the overall ecosystem, but it's also very significant because that's an important food source for many countries, including many developing countries.

It also is important because nations compete for those fisheries. And when you have a resource that's becoming limited, that's important to your population, it's often one of the causes of conflict. And so that whole continuity from the natural resource issue -- what's happening to the fisheries, how do we know what's sustainable and what's not -- up to the competition for that resource, it's very significant. And so what we're trying to do is work on this on multiple fronts, bilaterally, regionally and multilaterally. We certainly try to make sure we're plugged into the science on all of this. And as you heard when Jim read all of those topics that are in my portfolio, those topics are in my portfolio from a foreign policy standpoint. So what we do is work with all of the technical agencies in the U.S. government to make sure that we have the science that we need to understand these questions.

So fisheries is a huge issue. I mean, we spend a tremendous amount of time looking at multilateral agreements to put in place approaches that can protect fisheries. For instance, there's a new treaty out there on port state measures to look at what happens when fish that are caught illegally, they are unregulated, are brought into port -- how are they dealt with in that port?

We also participate in many regional fisheries management organizations that are also treaty organizations that look at how do we make sure that the fish in that region are being fished in a sustainable way. So we're trying to use all kinds of tools to address this, but one of the things that we know is fundamental is significant engagement on all of this and keeping it on a foreign policy agenda.

LINDSAY: I want to get into sort of the mechanisms for dealing with the problem, if we could spend just a few more minutes talking about some other dimensions of the problem.

What about water and access to fresh water?

JONES: Well, fresh water is another, you know, tough issue, OK, because water's fundamental. It's fundamental for human survival, production of food, all kinds of very basic human needs. And across the globe, I think there are about 260 river basins that are shared by multiple countries. As water stress increases, there's a possibility for conflict -- transboundary conflict. And that's something we try to look at.

We also have been -- you know, Secretary Clinton had really pushed to elevate this issue, and Secretary Kerry is continuing that attention on water. We're also trying to make sure that our development programs really address this because it's a health issue in that there's so many diseases related to water. It's also such a fundamental development issue.

So I think -- you know, water is the -- I think is the epitome of a natural resource that we see being stressed and that we recognize has a tremendous effect on an individual life on a day-to-day basis, but it is a very significant national security issue.

LINDSAY: And just one other topic -- illegal logging, particularly deforestation and its link to climate change.

JONES: Well, that one you could sort of spend a whole day talking about. Illegal -- you could really spend a day talking about any one of these pieces. And illegal logging -- I think that we all know it's a huge industry in terms of -- logging -- forget illegal logging, but logging itself is a huge trade issue. And certainly there's a large percentage of that that's illegal. It threatens species that are endangered.

It also can lead to a lot of pressure on communities because communities depend on forest products for some of their economic survival. And if you have trees being taken out and moved out of a country illegally, that's a loss of income. We also know that sometimes these profits go to organizations that are terrorist organizations. The U.N. Security Council, I think it was last year, had a resolution to stop the import of charcoal that was coming from Somalia because that was related to a terrorist group.

And so, you know, the pressure is on on all of these resources. And so you sort of have gone through some of the big ones and just sort of touching on fish, water, logging. The stress on logging is also important because, you know, trees are a carbon sink. You sort of don't want to see deforestation happening for multiple reasons, but certainly the climate impact is significant as well.

I think that -- what I notice from my position is that I didn't come into this job as a -- as a fish person -- (laughs) -- or as a forest person. I came as a scientist. And what's really interesting is the convergence of all of these issues. You know, you see these multiple stresses on countries and you also see ministries and departments sort of struggling with how do you bridge this bureaucratically from a policy standpoint?

How do you make advances that will look at the local needs as well as the national needs? And then, how does that roll up into what the whole world is trying to do to sort of, you know, rebalance some of the consumption models that we're living under now that I think we have to try to change?

LINDSAY: Fair enough. Well, this connection between sort of resource scarcity and security is a theme that Secretary of State Kerry has picked up, indeed. On Monday, he unveiled a proposal to create a marine reserve in the Ross Sea.

JONES: Right.

LINDSAY: Now I'm going to ask you a second about that, but I'm just -- I think it's worth quoting Secretary of State Kerry. He said: This is not just an environmental issue, this is a security issue, it's an economic security issue, it's a national security issue. And it's not too hard, in some of these cases, to draw connections; for example, I read recently that some scientists predict that the glaciers that feed the great rivers of South Asia will be gone by 2050 and that will create significant problems for, among other things, agriculture in India, in Pakistan because they depend upon the various rivers for it.

JONES: Right.

LINDSAY: So how is this being handled within the U.S. government? I mean, because there's so many other issues going on. Is there coordination among the various parts of the State Department? Because you're really handling sort of a nontraditional set of national security issues.

JONES: Right. Well, it's an interesting question. I've worked off and on with the State Department a long time, from different jobs across the government. And I head up a bureau that's known as a functional bureau, right? And in the State Department you have geographic bureaus and functional bureaus. The geographic bureaus have been the traditional well-known points of contact, right, because that's how the geopolitical issues are often engaged in. What I have seen over the past 20 years is the increasing importance of the functional bureaus because these issues are being looked at on -- in almost every bilateral relationship we have. And so there is coordination across the State Department, and it's not just my bureau with regional bureaus, it's my bureau with the economic bureau, because this has an economic and trade dimension. It's my bureau with our new Bureau on Energy and Natural Resources because as you look to energy profiles, how do you think about what that profile means in terms of impact on the natural resource base? It's also looked at in terms of the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement because something like wildlife trafficking has really gotten to be an issue of organized crime and how do you move money around countries and understanding how money moves. So there's a lot of coordination going on across the State Department.

But more much broadly, as I said earlier, there's a lot of other agencies in the U.S. government involved in this, because more and more what has happened on these issues, the -- what used to be called the domestic agencies -- you know, Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation -- while their mandates all started domestically, the issues that they're involved in are now global. You know, Fish and Wildlife Service has to be engaged internationally. The National Institutes of Health does as well. And the reason I mention them is because the water and disease issue, the disease is coming from exotic animals that may be crossing borders illegally. So there's coordination across all of those technical agencies as well.

And I think it's challenging. No doubt about it. Because just as every country has a culture, so does every technical agency or every discipline. So we work across those. But it really is an effort to coordinate broadly, recognizing sort of the breadth of these issues and the technical depth that's required.

LINDSAY: OK. So you have a challenge sort of at home coordinating?

JONES: Oh, absolutely.

LINDSAY: But obviously, at the end of the day when you produce a policy, there's a limited amount to what the United States can do unilaterally. You have to work bilaterally, regionally, you mentioned, and multilateral.

JONES: Multilaterally.

LINDSAY: Let's just sort of take one example, maybe perhaps this proposal for a marine reserve in the Ross -- in the Ross Sea. As I understand it, there is a commission or panel was set up several decades ago to regulate issues related to marine life in the Antarctic.

JONES: Right.

LINDSAY: There had been hope that last November an agreement would be reached. An agreement wasn't reached, and so Secretary Kerry made his announcement -- I guess this is a proposal -- for the United States, New Zealand, maybe Australia. Maybe you want to sort of --

JONES: Sure, sure. It's a long story, here. And this is one of my favorite acronyms: CCAMLR, which is the Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. Only in Washington or the international community could we come up with something that interesting. CCAMLR is one of the groups that has been established under the Antarctic Treaty. And last October, November, it had a meeting. And there several proposals going into that meeting about creating marine protected areas. The U.S. and New Zealand both had proposals for creating a protected area in the Ross Sea, which is a very important area because it's in close to the coast and then it moves out. So it has a lot of teeming life; it has the coastline. It's been a very good laboratory in terms of seeing what's happening.

So we each had proposals. So we went into that meeting, and we were able to come together and develop a joint proposal. At that time, however, the members of CCAMLR were not ready to accept that proposal. There were other proposals on the table. Australia and the EU and France, I believe, have a proposal in the East Antarctic water -- the Southern Ocean. And so what's going to happen is, later in the summer, there's going to be another meeting to try to advance this proposal and get agreement.

Agreement in CCAMLR is by consensus, and so that's always a challenging international negotiation when it's consensus. There are countries involved in CCAMLR who fish in these areas. There are different interests. And so we are doing everything we can to talk to the countries in CCAMLR to make this come forward.

And what happened the other night when the secretary was speaking is, he was -- there was a film at the National Geographic that was about the Southern Ocean and about the area of the Ross Sea and why it's so important from a conservation standpoint. And so he was able to endorse this proposal along with New Zealand and Australia, and we were really pleased that the secretary wanted to be out there on one of his earliest discussions talking about this issue and recognizing that this isn't just about conservation. This is much bigger than that. This is all of the other topics we're talking about -- economics and national security.

LINDSAY: OK. I should point out that we're talking about a very vast amount of ocean. The notion I kept hearing was that it was nine times larger than New Zealand, which may not be an analogy that resonates with Americans, but it's three and a half times the size of Texas.

JONES: Right.

LINDSAY: Which is a mighty big state, I can assure you.

JONES: It'd be the largest -- it'd be the largest established --

LINDSAY: It'd be the largest -- it'd be the largest reserve. And one of the issues there that's complicated discussions is something known as the Antarctic Toothfish, which is better known to diners at restaurants as Chilean sea bass.

JONES: Not a very attractive fish, if you've ever actually seen a picture of it. (Laughter.)

LINDSAY: Yes. It turned out, I guess, in some of the cases, when they renamed it, sales went off the charts. But --

JONES: Marketing is everything.

LINDSAY: Marketing is everything. I'm curious, because when you look at this, this is sort of a plurilateral organization, CCAMLR. And at the other end of the spectrum, you have opportunities to do things unilaterally. The United States, beginning in the mid-1980s with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, tried to control fishing in sort of the United States' economic exclusion zone.

And my understand is, some fish stocks had begun to rebound because of legislation -- not all fish stocks. Particularly, I believe, cod off of Massachusetts or New England has not really recovered.

But in between there are the sort of bilateral efforts. And to what extent does the United States engage in sort of capacity-building so that maritime states can control their own economic exclusion zones and prevent overfishing in their own waters?

JONES: There's lots of different ways. A couple of things on that point. The other thing -- to go back to the Magnuson-Stevens Act -- our own domestic legislation also has ways to impact the international scene by, you know, what we expect from other countries that are bringing products into the U.S.

And so we have domestic legislation from both the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and we have the Lacey Act in terms of logging, and which was -- first started out in terms of wildlife, but extended to timber just a few years ago. And both of those are domestic legislation that have an impact on what comes into our country and how we sort of look at countries and regularly look at whether or not what they're bringing is -- has been taken appropriately, and whether or not we can, in some way, affect imports or think about other actions we can take.

So that's one -- that's the other piece of how we can sort of deal with things. So we do things unilaterally, but then sometimes our domestic legislation can have an international impact, certainly.

But from a bilateral perspective -- we have bilateral relationships with countries all over the world. And from a -- from a fishery standpoint, we have bilateral fisheries discussions, certainly with some of our key partners, like Canada. We talk a lot about fisheries with Canada because we share certain waters and boundaries.

But you know, most recently -- just to give you an example, I was in Malaysia last week, where we have a joint committee on science and technology. And this -- many countries want to have science and technology relationships with the U.S. in science because we have an excellent reputation and everyone wants to sort of learn how we do things and be partners.

In that group, one of the -- one of the areas that we have identified as a priority for our two countries are marine issues. And so we begin to think about their -- the research-base of understanding sustainable fisheries, linking the marine ministry in some way to the foreign policy ministry. So we do a lot through different channels. So some will be specifically about fisheries. Some will be about science and technology. And we're always kind of looking for ways to cross-fertilize topics where we know they play a role in these issues.

It's one of the interesting things in the bureau that I lead, that we look at the science that underpins everything and we try to have that inform it. We also use our science relationship as a way to further these other topics, you know, from a science base to conservation issues, because as you would imagine, often the U.S. can be viewed as coming in and saying: You should do this and you should do that. And you know, we don't have the best track record on certain issues. And sometimes that creates a difficult conversation. So really having a science-based approach to these topics is kind of fundamental to having a really good dialogue with partners around the world.

LINDSAY: Speaking of partners, I mean, obviously, when you look at international relations today, one of the most significant developments is the rise of China. And if you have been to China, or simply watched the news, you know that China has substantial internal environmental problems. To what extent have the Chinese been willing to engage in international discussions, or even bilateral discussions, with the United States on these issues -- whether it's fresh water, oceans, illegal logging, what have you?

JONES: Oh, they're very willing to engage. You know, it's -- we have multiple, multiple forums and venues where we engage with the Chinese bilaterally and regionally and multilaterally. Having sort of, as everyone knows, made a turn to the Pacific, we have many regional organizations where we are engaged.

You know, we have also with China -- let me give you one example. We have -- we've signed a memorandum of understanding on illegal logging with China. And I know that this is something that has come up often because, you know, with China -- (inaudible) -- what are they doing in other countries? How are they involved or, you know, what are there policies related to illegal logging?

So with this memorandum, we are able to have a regular dialogue with the Chinese very specifically, where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is at the table, but their Forestry Ministry is at the table, our forestry folks are at the table, trade people are at the table. And we talk about this from multiple perspectives. We talk about what their systems are for tracking illegal products. We talk about the requirements of our Lacey Act.

So we're very engaged. I think with every country, implementation and how do we ensure that what we're trying to do is complementary is a challenge, just because bureaucracies are different. So alignment is often a challenge. So you know, a lot of people -- at least, I have to say, some people in my family wonder why I'm in so many meetings all the time. But the meetings with bilateral partners are sort of how you get these discussions going.

And a lot of it is just learning each other's systems, recognizing you have similar priorities and then figuring out within those systems, how do you develop approaches that can make a difference. And the approaches sometimes culturally have to be different as well, just because of the way governments are structured.

LINDSAY: We talked a lot this morning about problems. And one of the downsides of talking about problems, you end up persuading everybody how difficult things are. So my last question, I guess, I want to ask you is, what have been our successes in this area? Have we made progress? Where have we made progress? What's the good news?

JONES: I think -- I think there's a lot of good news. I think, from my perspective, I think the issues -- the collection of issues we're talking about now are on the foreign policy/national security agenda in ways they have never been. I think -- and I think that's a very positive thing. I think when you have the leaders of APEC making a statement about wildlife trafficking, that would have been unheard of years ago, OK?

So that I think is a very big deal. Granted, that's in the diplomatic world, but that's how you begin to get traction on these issues. So I think that's very positive. And it's not just in APEC; we see it in many other places being put on the agenda.

I also think it's very positive in terms of wildlife trafficking that you are seeing an increase in arrests, you are seeing more shipments being stopped. There's more to do, but I think, again, the awareness on these issues is really, really increasing. And that is -- that's very positive.

I also think that the fact that -- just from a bureaucratic standpoint, when you see all of these different interest groups in a government beginning to talk across the silos, that's a very positive -- very positive sign. There's a lot -- there's a lot more to be done; there's no doubt about that. But I just -- I think there's a lot of progress. And I think -- the other piece of this is I think that the partnerships between governments, NGOs and the private sector has become much stronger -- much, much stronger. And I think that's going to continue to grow. And I think that will make a difference.

There's an activity that we're working on now called the Tropical Forest Alliance for 2020, which is a partnership -- so far the U.S. and the Netherlands are involved, but the Consumer Goods Forum is in it. And the point is the recognition that if you're a company and you're developing a lot of different products, well, you're getting them from some natural resource base. And so let's have the conversation about how do you green the supply chain? And that has impact on ecosystems in a -- in a fundamental way. So that discussion is starting.

Now, these are complicated discussions for sure. But they're happening, and I think they will make progress. I think the interesting thing in all of this is the level of detail you have to go into. And I think people are beginning to really make that commitment to dig in on an industry basis, on an ecosystem basis, and I think that's all good news.

LINDSAY: Terrific.

Right now, we're going to invite questions from our audience.

JONES: Sure.

LINDSAY: I would ask people in the audience to please wait for a microphone and speak directly into it. And I would ask you that you please stand, state your name and affiliation. And finally, in this long list of directions, I am to ask you to please keep your question and comments concise -- (laughter) -- to allow as many members as possible to speak. So -- sir.

QUESTIONER: Frank Loy from the Nature Conservancy.

JONES: Hi, Frank. (Chuckles.)

QUESTIONER: Thank you, Secretary, for a very informative talk.

My question is this: It seems increasingly difficult for the United States to ratify any treaty, even treaties that have bipartisan and broad support. My question is, is that the premise on which you're working? And how does that difficulty affect your negotiations?

JONES: We've noticed that too. (Laughter.) Yes, it is -- it is an interesting challenge. I think that we could all list a number of treaties that are pending ratification right now.

I think that we are looking at this in a very pragmatic way. I mean, this is the nature of our system. We work with Congress to sort of move forward on treaties. We -- as we are going into treaty negotiations, we are being very sensitive to the fact that when you're negotiating an international treaty, more and more, one foot is in the -- in the international world and one foot is the domestic.

And so we have some treaties that are pending because they require domestic legislation, what we call implementation language, to make sure that we align with whatsever (sic) in that treaty. So we're looking very closely as we go into negotiations as to how we think about all the legislation that might be needed, knowing that that's going to be a hurdle. So that's one thing.

The other is that we are looking at other ways of doing things. And I think many countries are looking at this as well. They may not have some of the congressional challenges we have, but having 193 countries come to a conclusion on increasingly complicated issues can take a long time. And I think there's an urgency on some of these issues that countries are beginning to be more sensitive to.

So you're seeing, I think, more creative regional activities. You're seeing more efforts to sort of keep the multilateral relations going, but also try to do other things that support them and take action. So it does make it a little bit difficult for the U.S. with our -- with our track record, but I think we're trying to now be very pragmatic to think about what we would really need in a treaty to sort of be able to sort of have our Senate be very supportive of it, and we sort of take that forward. And then there are these other channels that we're really trying to take actions with.

LINDSAY: (Inaudible) -- on this particular treaty question, how much would passage of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea Treaty help you in the area of what you're doing in terms of oceans?

JONES: It would be an enormous help. It would be an enormous help because we -- you know, we follow what is in that treaty as just sort of best practices, but it is -- it is sometimes difficult to be in organizations as an observer trying to be a leader. So you're not at the table, you're in the room. You are the United States, and so you do have -- you do have a platform to speak from, but you're not a member. And so it does -- it does give you -- it does give you a challenge in terms of how you can really help shape things in some of the important discussions. So that would be an enormous plus for us to join that treaty.

And as you know, it's a priority for this administration. It was a priority for Secretary Clinton. It is a huge priority for Secretary Kerry. So we're going to keep working on that.

LINDSAY: Fair enough.

Sherri.

QUESTIONER: Thanks, Jim. Thanks, Secretary Jones. And thanks to the council and Conservation International for organizing this. I think it's very, very important and very timely.

LINDSAY: Sherri, can I get you to identify yourself?

QUESTIONER: Sherri Goodman at -- Sherri Goodman, CNA. At -- on the rebalance to Asia, in national security circles it's often thought of in terms of the military balance and diplomatic throw-weight and other categories.

JONES: Right.

QUESTIONER: But you've raised some important issues here this morning. And I've been increasingly struck -- in a meeting I had with the Vietnamese ambassador to the U.S. just yesterday, he said the most important thing happening right now is the Lower Mekong Initiative, which is all about water.

JONES: that's right.

QUESTIONER: And so I wonder whether and how you see this set of national resource issues figuring higher on the agenda within this region as a critical part, as you and others have said, in ensuring global stability and preventing the factors of instability from water, climate change, energy and the weak state factor from becoming much more prominent in the future.

JONES: I agree with you. I mean, I think that the whole natural resource profile in Asia is an important part of our rebalancing thinking, OK? Because you have key maritime countries there. You have a country like Indonesia, which has an enormous amount of biodiversity, coastline, important natural resources. And they are developing very, very quickly, and that certainly is something that they're very concerned about.

I mean, they talk about the green economy and the blue economy. And so what does the blue economy mean? The blue economy, you know, you can look at it as a very positive term, but you have to -- you have to, I think, put into that term the sustainability as the base, because otherwise it's just another source of economic growth and you can't do that in an unsustainable way. And so you have competition for resources in that region among countries that are rapidly developing. They have some of the unique resources of the globe, but they also are going to be competing for resources in that growth curve. And so that is a piece of the overall, I think, you know, stability and importance of that region, and I see it as one of the issues, as we look at it on our foreign policy agenda.

LINDSAY: All the way to the gentleman in the back. If I could ask you to stand and give your name and affiliation.

QUESTIONER: Good morning.

JONES: Good morning.

QUESTIONER: (Clears throat.) Pardon me. John Doyle with the Aviation Week Group. You said several times about how these issues affect national security. I wonder if you could go into a little bit about what kind of cooperation and reach-out you're having with the armed services, and to the ability you can talk about it, what the current budgetary situation may or may not be doing to continuing those efforts.

JONES: Good question. We work a lot with the Defense Department on these issues. The Defense Department is sensitive to the stability and security issues related to a stressed natural resource base -- certainly climate, certainly water.

And so they're very involved in this. My own experience with them has been on the science side of things. The Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Research, they've been involved in many of the things that we do. They're very interested in the marine environment -- obviously, ONR is. And they were just with us in Malaysia talking about what kinds of work we could do with the folks in Malaysia regarding ocean mapping and understanding what's out there. And so they're -- they're sort of a member of the team when we go forward in an interagency process to talk about all these issues.

Certainly, in the wildlife trafficking, there have been discussions regarding what's going on in Africa and, you know, what the Defense Department has been looking at in Africa in terms of tracking different sorts of groups and their involvement in wildlife trafficking. So they're a member of the interagency team, as we're looking at this whole collection of issues.

The budget question I really can't answer, because that sort of is a dynamic situation right now. And every time I am at an interagency meeting, all the agencies are saying, we're working -- we're seeing what's happening. So I couldn't really give you, I think, the kind of answer that would -- that would -- that would tell you we see -- we see - we know where this is going to go. We do see a downward trend. We do hear that offices in the Defense Department are saying, you know, well, maybe we can't engage at the same level that we had hoped. But I don't have -- I don't have figures at this point.

LINDSAY: Young lady in the back.

QUESTIONER: Hi, Cindy Johnson (sp), (SNR Denton ?) and a member of the Chairman's Council of Conservation International. Assistant Secretary, it's so great to hear your views today. I don't think this falls in your purview, but I know that the FDA is reviewing a comment period on Atlantic salmon and whether or not Atlantic salmon will be able to be qualified as wild -- would it have altered DNA? And I believe the comment period for this is over in the middle of April.

I was just wondering about your agency. Do you interact with FDA on that, and -- or are other countries saying, hey, the United States, we don't think this is a great idea? I know that these fish are supposed to be offshore, and personally, my worry is that, you know, God forbid they escape from whatever marvelous tank they're in. But how does that affect your job, and what do you think about that topic?

JONES: At this point, that has not been on my screen as an issue. It has not been raised internationally to me in the different settings I have been in recently. The issue -- the more general issue of genetically-modified organisms and how different countries are dealing with it sometimes comes up, but the particular case you're mentioning doesn't come up.

We have been -- the work we have been doing predominately with FDA has to do more with the issue of, you know, counterfeit drugs and substandard medicines, which is a huge issue around the world and something that we try to deal with as a health issue and as an economic issue.

But the particular issue you're mentioning has not come on to my list of things. Which doesn't mean it won't, but my list is fine right now -- (laughter) --

LINDSAY: I was going to say, Assistant Secretary, it seems like it'd be easier to list the topics you're not involved with than the ones you are involved with.

JONES: I know.

LINDSAY: We're going to go over to this gentleman right here.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Bob Barnes from the Nature Conservancy; sorry for the hoarse voice. I'd like to come back to the issue of the role of traditionally domestic agencies in this very complex situation.

Many of the important domestic agencies in these arenas have no independent authority to operate overseas and no budget line to support that operation -- USGS, Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Department of Agriculture. It would seem to me that the administration should consider sponsoring legislation to create these authorizations for overseas activity and separate budget line to take some of the pressure off the foreign assistance budget.

I'd like your response to that.

JONES: It's a very good question. I've thought about that myself a few times. The issue that you raised about authorities is a really important one. And some of the agencies have international authorities in different ways. I know this because at one point I was asked by our colleagues in Congress to look at authorities related to -- specifically science and technology.

And so we looked at that. And USDA and NIH both have some international authority because of the nature of protecting the health of U.S. citizens and the food supply of U.S. citizens. FDA is increasingly going out there because of the percentage of -- when you look at drugs made in the U.S. -- drugs sold in the U.S., a huge percentage of the components of those drugs come from around the world. And so the standards in a Chinese factory or an Indian factory have to sort of be looked at. And so there's a -- there's a number of agencies that have some authority.

There are others that need more, but I think the question -- the question that's more at the root, I think, is a funding issue, because I think the agencies that have it and the ones that are maybe moving more forward than their authority necessarily states -- everyone recognizes that these systems are links, you know, that you can't really talk about the U.S. food system or our separate health system, you know, for drugs, or -- and the same thing with wildlife trafficking. I mean, you know, we are a market for wildlife, you know, that's brought in that should not be. So we are sort of not clear in this area. So we have to have fish and wildlife understanding, where things are coming from, which means they have to understand the systems around the world. So I think there's more and more recognition that domestic technical agencies really have to be involved in the world.

I think the budget issue is a big -- is a big question. It's a huge question, and I think at this time and the budget situation we're in, it's particularly difficult. But we are always having conversations with Congress about this. There are particular different groups in Congress that are interested. There's a -- there's a group that's very interested in conservation and wildlife. They talk to us a lot. Representative Rice, I think, is involved in that. We have a lot of champions on the Hill who are very concerned about fisheries because their states are on the water or they have -- they're very concerned about both the competitiveness issue, about where their fishermen can go. So we have pockets of support that are looking to how do you fund certain things, but the overarching budget question remains. And I think it's something we're just going to have to deal with as this continual kind of interconnectedness continues. I mean, it's just going to get more and more and more because we can see how systems are getting that way.

But I don't -- I don't know that there would be any interest right now in trying to sponsor additional funding when we are in the situation we're in. I think it's really talking more about getting the issues visible and then doing this on a case-by-case basis to sort of target some funds for very important topics.

LINDSAY: This gentleman over here.

QUESTIONER: Good morning.

JONES: Morning.

QUESTIONER: My name is Jeff Guyon (sp) with -- on the board of Conservation International.

And my kind of -- my question goes back kind of to the Defense Department. As you -- well -- are you well aware of that, you know, Afghanistan has depleted their force by 98 percent?

JONES: Yes.

QUESTIONER: The 2 percent left right now is under tremendous pressure for illegal logging going into Pakistan. Since we have the military there, do we have the might to try to stop that?

JONES: We certainly engage and talk to them about that. And I've met with the minister of environment of Afghanistan at one of the multilateral meetings. And we've talked a lot about it. Yes, we engage on those issues and we recognize that they are, you know, part of the overall stability question. I think it's a challenge to have that -- have that be the priority we think it should be. It's an ongoing discussion. I can't -- I can't answer your question with a yes or no, but we recognize that the military are often, you know, the first on the ground, the ones who are there who can make a big difference in sort of how environmental activities are happening or not happening. And so we are very engaged with discussions with them as we are, you know, around the world.

But conflict areas are by definition often extremely vulnerable for the environment, because, you know, nobody's paying -- people are taken with life and death situations, and they are using the resources in a very harsh way. And so trying to sort of turn that around, I think, is an ongoing -- it's an ongoing issue in any conflict situation.

LINDSAY: Dr. Stewart Patrick.

QUESTIONER: Hi, yeah, Stewart Patrick, senior fellow and director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance here.

Thank you very much, Secretary Jones. Just wanted to pick up on the challenges of multilateral diplomacy when it comes to conservation and sustainability in a couple of different senses. The first is, it seems to me that there is a significant fatigue about U.N. mega conferences that has built -- you know, there's been Johannesburg, obviously, Rio+20 more recently, but a lot of these sort of huge, 193-member conferences. Do you have a sense that that's the case and that most effective work is going to have to take place in sort of more minilateral coalitions of -- and not only the willing but the relevant?

And then the other is -- the other question has to do with your -- the bureaucratic issue you raised, which that just as in the State Department functional bureaus tend to lose out to regional bureaus or at least --

JONES: Not so much anymore.

QUESTIONER: Not so much anymore That's good.

JONES: (Laughs.)

QUESTIONER: That's good to hear. In the international arena, it -- you know, when you have -- when you have a a conference of parties that are negotiated by environment ministers, they tend to be a little bit underpowered compared to secretaries of the treasury or ministers of foreign affairs. Do you see that changing? Because that seems to me the way to get this up to the next level.

JONES: Right. On your first point, on the multilateral fatigue, I think -- I think we have to do all of those things. I think you have to do multilateral as well as the regional as well as some dynamic plurilateral activities. I think -- you know, I was at Rio+20 last summer. And I think one of the things that struck me was that that conference had so many issues on it. I mean, it had everything on it. And every one of them is a complex issue. So every one of them sort of is kind of, how could you negotiate something that would come forward from that that could really get into or address all of the issues that were there? I think that the outcome document sort of, you know, is a good framework document, but then you have to pick each piece and go after it. I think that we need to continue the multilateral dialogues or conventions. I think we will have to think about more creative ways to do them because they're very expensive and look at ways to use all this new technology, electronic and whatnot, that we can do to connect.

But you know, we just had -- on a different subject, we just had a multilateral convention developed for mercury, OK, that was successful, OK. And it was very interesting to me because it's a singular issue. Now granted there's multiple products and there's multiple sources and everything, but it was a very singular issue. And I think that was -- that's going to be something that I think we can look at as success.

I think when you move over to the collection of issues that defines sustainable development, it's huge. It's huge. And so we have to sort of think about them as they're all connected. No doubt about it. But you have to sort of think about, so how do you make advances on them? And so I think that's why you have to have both the multilateral and the regional and all the other -- all the other approaches.

And then your second question, which I had forgotten, was --

QUESTIONER: This is on the fact that many of the multilateral negotiations take place with ministers of the environment or, you know, at the undersecretary level.

JONES: Right, right. And this is absolutely true. I participate in UNEP meetings, U.N. environmental program, and have really been struck by the environment ministers sometimes being somewhat isolated from the give-and-take of financial movements and power struggles and everything else that go along. And so I think one of the things you see -- and you certainly see it happening in climate -- is finance ministers are getting very involved, OK, which is really important.

I also think that in having the Rio Conference this summer, one of the most important things was to rebalancing, to say sustainable development is not just environment. It's environment, it's economic and its social. And the convergence of the economic perspective of environmental issues is very important, and so the finance people, I believe, need to be sitting at the table. It's -- you know, on a more granular level it's -- the private sector has to be involved, because the private sector is sort of developing and making choices and they want -- you know, they're always looking at profit but they also have to sort of be involved in discussing, so what are the environmental impacts and how do we make choices? SO I think there's a recognition of that, and I think more and more that is happening.

And certainly in settings when I'm traveling, I try to meet with multiple ministries. And I think many of my colleagues do that as well. So I think that's more of a trend that is happening, that environment is becoming less isolated in sitting over here and much more integrated in the discussions.

LINDSAY: Oh, David, go ahead.

QUESTIONER: David Hitchings from Northrop Grumman corporation. My question is, do you think you have enough sensors in the space, sky, sea and land not only for your scientists to understand the problems, but also for enforcing the treaties that you have already worked on?

JONES: Probably not. (Laughter.) I mean, I think the sensor technology is developing at a rapid -- a rapid pace, OK? And I think that there is a general recognition that in terms of both understanding the environment as well as tracking what's happening, we're just in a whole new -- whole new world of possibility.

I mean, if you look at -- I think -- what is it -- Google Forest 2.0 (sic: Global Forest Watch 2.0) or something like that, that's a collaboration with Google, World Resources Institute and the University of Maryland. I mean, they're going to be looking at forestry and what's happening in ways that we never even thought about before.

I was at a meeting the other day with some ocean scientists who were talking about the fact that we now or very soon will have the capacity to begin to map the ocean that way. And of course, I was with a bunch of oceanographers, so they felt it was very unfair that space was getting more sensors than the oceans. But, you know, the technology is rapidly developing.

I think this is a -- this is something where there's great potential. The challenge is, how do you coordinate it globally? How do you make sure all the data has open access, which is one of our themes over and over and over again, every place we go?

And how do you make sure that you can sustain the infrastructure? I was -- as I said, in Malaysia; I was also in Australia last week, and in Australia, we talked a lot about, how do we make sure the continuity of the Earth observing systems that we have continue? And we come back to budgets. So that -- you know, you have this -- we just launched, I guess, Landsat 8, which was -- which was a really good thing to do. And all of that Landsat data is available, but there are other satellite systems where we have budget questions.

So I think that -- I think the short answer is no, we can do more with sensors. I think it is a -- it's an area of great potential. But I think the coordination and the sustainability of infrastructure are very big issues we're going to have to talk about.

LINDSAY: Secretary Jones has a meeting that she has to go off to, so we have time for one last question.

Before I take it, I just want to remind all the participants that this session has been on the record. And we'll go to the back of the room.

QUESTIONER: Madam Secretary, Bobby Charles, former assistant secretary for INL.

JONES: Oh, great.

QUESTIONER: And I wanted to just pose a question. I don't envy you -- the breadth of your reach and the budget problems.

JONES: Thank you.

QUESTIONER: But budget follows relevance, and as a former also DOD-related person, I wonder if any thought has been given to a model or a process by which you could identify resource triggers of national security crises.

In other words, I particularly think of AFRICOM, where we know there are national security crises coming related to resources. Is there any comprehensive process under way -- a multilateral or U.S. or DOD and State to put a model of some kind into place that would be predictive rather than just kind of broadly looking at treaties?

JONES: Somebody I heard give you an answer up here. And it's kind of taking information to that next step. It's sort of understanding the intelligence that's out there on the ground and trying to be prepared as best we can.

We are certainly in discussions with AFRICOM as to what's happening -- what we're seeing on the ground -- in particular, you know, recently related to some reporting on wildlife trafficking and potential groups moving across Africa. And so, we're in those discussions, but that's sort of the first phase of your -- of an answer to your question.

The next one, about modeling -- I think we have to sort of think a little further about that, because there's an interesting issue here, which is, across cultures -- between the conservation culture and the defense culture. This is a -- sometimes a sensitivity within countries, and it's one of the things we are working very hard to sort of bring down those barriers and sort of have real conversations about, how do you bring these communities together? I've worked on this in health with defense at times. It's very similar in the conservation area. So we're sort of having those conversations, but we're not far -- as far along as to say, you know, we have models and we're there yet.

LINDSAY: Very good. Secretary Jones, thank you for such an excellent set of remarks. You've given us a lot to think about over the remainder of the day. (Applause.)

JONES: Thank you, thank you all.

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

RICHARD HAASS: Great. Well, good morning. Good morning. Welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations, and I'm Richard Haass, president of the CFR. For those of you who are not familiar with us, we are an independent, nonpartisan think tank, membership organization and publisher. And what we're trying to do day in, day out, year in, year out is work to improve awareness of and understanding of American foreign policy and the choices facing the United States and other people around the world. And we're trying to be a resource for the public, the business community, academics, journalists and our members.

We're particularly proud to be welcoming you here this morning because we have a partner with Conservation International, one of the premier if the not premier organization in the world devoted to raising awareness, and more than that, doing things to protect the environment around the world and to, as you'll see today, to raise awareness, and again, do things about increasing sustainability of our resources.

Now in the full disclosure department, let me -- I wouldn't call this a conflict of interest, I would call it a congruence of interest. My day job is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, but one of the ways I moonlight is as a board member of Conservation International. And it's only fair because the president of CI -- the founding president of CI, Peter Seligmann, is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. So we've got some connections going here.

We're particularly proud to welcome you here to this building here today, and there's a very good reason. This meeting is taking place in our LEED Gold Certified building. LEED, for those of you who are not aficionados, is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This building is certified at the -- at the Gold level, which is extraordinary because it's partly a historic building. And we're proud of it, and we -- one of the reasons we did it was to symbolize and underscore our commitment to the importance of thinking about the environment and acting on it in a responsible way. And it's something that is integral not simply to what we study but what we do here at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Peter's going to be speaking in a minute, and he'll say more about this extraordinary organization he has created and helped build over the decades, but what I want to do is say one or two things also about CI and also about the issues we're going to be discussing here for today. And what this is about is not simply conservation in the traditional sense. As important as that is, as important it is to protect and promote nature, it's more than that. And the mission of CI has evolved over the years, and now it's also about ensuring that ecosystems, that people in countries, societies depend on -- be it for food, air, water, what have you -- that they're maintained.

And the reason, again, is not simply because it's a good thing, but it's also a necessary thing. And what this is about is not simply the survival of this species that we are all part of but it's also about the viability of states. And that's why it's so important -- and in some ways that's why we are here today. This is not simply, if you will, a quote, unquote, "environmental issue," but it's also a national security issue. And for too long, I would argue, it -- concerns about the environment, concerns about conservation have been pigeonholed, if you will, or siloed for people who really care about those issues and really know about those issues.

And as I am often fond of saying, universities may have departments, but the world doesn't. And we simply don't have the luxury of siloing these issues, because what happens when it comes to the core environmental challenges facing a country, when it comes to its stock of resources, when it comes again to basic issues of their resources and their -- and their environment, it affects their economic viability and ultimately, it affects the viability of the -- of the country itself.

I mean -- what, in two decades, three decades, we're going to go north of 7 billion people on this planet to 8 (billion) or even conceivably 9 billion. It's going to create tremendous pressures on our -- on our resources for food and water and more, obviously energy. But it also creates all sorts of tensions potentially not simply within states but between them, and the possibility that energy and the implications of sustainability issues, refugee flows, internally displaced persons, all of this could put tremendous pressures on the international system at a time, shall we say, there are already sufficient pressures.

I'm particularly concerned with the issue of viability of states. Let me give you a prediction: In the 21st century for the coming decades, at least as big, if not a bigger, problem as strong states will be weak states. And these are states that simply don't have the capacity to manage what takes place within their borders. And that's one of the fundamental obligations of sovereignty.

And what we're seeing around the world in select places, and I fear we may see even more going forward, is the lack of capacity of states. And that's where terrorists take root, that's where pirates take root, that's where traffickers set up shop. And -- again, cartels of all sorts -- and so to the extent that sustainability issues undermine capacities of states, this then becomes not simply a domestic challenge to those societies, but will spill over. In this age of globalization, borders tend to be crossed with impunity.

And again, my point is simply that the issues of sustainability have to now be seen, I believe, through a much broader lens. This is a challenge for governments. This is a challenge for the private sector, as we'll be hearing today. This is a challenge for all those involved in the foreign policy and the national security debate.

Before turning things over to Peter, let me just also thank Rita Hauser. This is -- this program today is this year's annual Hauser Symposium. Work in this area depends upon the commitment and generosity and resources of individuals and foundations who basically believe that we need to have a capacity, if you will, in the institutional world as well. So I want to thank Rita Hauser, who's been a long-term supporter of the Council.

With that, let me turn things over to Peter Seligmann. Peter is -- in the nonprofit world, is often not associated with the word entrepreneur. We think of entrepreneurs as guys who -- and women who run around Silicon Valley and the like. Peter's an extraordinary entrepreneur. He has built up this organization over the decades, and he's made it a force. It's -- you know, I run a -- I'm lucky enough to head a think tank, and our principal widget is ideas. Peter runs a do tank. What CI has done around the world is, you know, quite remarkable in protecting forests and protecting ocean space and protecting coral areas, and in helping governments meet the challenges that we're talking about today, which is the challenge of sustainability.

So with that, Mr. Seligmann. (Applause.)

PETER SELIGMANN: Good morning. It's so nice to be here. And I'm very, very enthusiastic about our partnership with the council and appreciate the hard work that all the people of the council have put in with the CI team to pull this together.

I'm really looking forward to the discussions today. There are a lot of ideas, a lot of experiences that many of you have that if we pull them together and think carefully, maybe we'll discover some paths forward. And we really do need to find some new trails to go forward as we look at what our global society is facing today.

Richard touched upon, you know, much of the areas that we are really concerned about -- (audio break) -- you know, just to -- kind of the highlight kind of a moment of kind of awakening for me personally was just a few years ago, when I was thinking about the kind of the relevance and the impact that our organization, Conservation International, was having on the protection of biodiversity.

And as I added up all the wonderful successes as we were thinking about how we were going to increase support for the organization, I realized that really if you're objective about it, no matter, you know, how many new places are protected, the fact is that all these indicators are going in the wrong direction, that extinctions were accelerating, fisheries were being depleted and we're actually dealing with climate issues that are -- where the hundred-year storm is becoming the annual storm. And what we realize when we have 7 billion people going towards 9 billion is that every one of these major events impacts millions of people, and every one of these major events stresses out all the support systems that communities have. And when you get to that place, you begin to have security challenges and security issues.

And what we recognized at that point a few years ago was that this was actually not a biodiversity issue, this was a human issue. And at that point, we shifted our mission from protecting biodiversity to a mission of supporting human well being by maintaining ecosystems that give support and services, goods for people and societies all over the world.

And if we cannot get to the place where we recognize that we need nature to thrive, we're basically cooked. And it's OK for those of us who are kind of a little long in the tooth and old, but for the youngsters that's not a very good gift. And so we decided to redesign the organizations at CI to focus really on the simple issue of how do we protect nature for people, and how do you translate that into the real-life issues of a sustained source of food and water and energy and health? How do you -- how do you -- how do you really understand the contribution that healthy ecosystems make for livelihood? And all those issues, those are the issues that are essential for a healthy, desirable place to live. And as we undercut ecological health, we expose ourselves to frequently occurring disasters.

And so today we've got this convergence of dramatic shifts in weather. And whether it's the acidification of the ocean, or the loss of polar caps, or the extraordinary droughts, or floods, or amazing storms that hit us every year, or whether it's the simultaneous destruction of ecosystem health, we've got a convergence of challenges that have to be addressed.

These are national security issues, fundamental. They're as real, as palpable as cyber threat. They will undercut the stability of our societies and our nations. And that's why we're here today. We're here today to actually have that conversation. And it's not a new conversation. Secretary of State Baker spoke about it 20 years ago. Secretary of State Clinton spoke about it last year. I mean, it's not that it's a new issue, it's just an issue that has not received the intensity and the focus and the commitment to find answers.

And that's really why we wanted to partner with the council. It's an extraordinary organization. Richard Haass has played a really great, great role at Conservation International. You know, there is a thought that sometimes the people that are involved in the NGO community like to kind of close their eyes and cross their fingers and click their heels to make good things happen. And when I would do that, I would open my eyes and there's Richard saying, OK, that's really nice, but that's not the way it's going to happen. And so it's really important to actually put truth into the issues that we have to solve and address. And that's why I'm really pleased that so many of you are here because you're dealing with issues at a national level, at a business level. And if we bring these together with academia and with the NGO sector, we really can find some new answers, and that's really what we have to find.

And so with that, thank you so much for being here. Richard, thank you so much for hosting us. And let me turn it back to -- excuse me -- Mr. Lindsay. Thank you. Thank you, Jim Lindsay. Thank you. (Applause.)

JAMES LINDSAY: Good morning, everyone. I want to welcome you to the breakfast keynote session of today's CFR Conservation International Symposium on global resources, the U.S. economy and national security.

I'm James Lindsay, the director of the David Rockefeller Studies Program here at the Council on Foreign Relations. And as a reminder, this symposium, which is co-sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and Conservation International, is on the record.

It is my distinct honor to introduce our keynote speaker, Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones, who is assistant secretary of state for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

Assistant Secretary Jones has had a distinguished career. A graduate of Barnard College at Columbia University, she earned her Ph.D from the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University. Dr. Jones has served in several capacities within the U.S. government, including in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Jones has been assistant secretary since August of 2009 and her remit, the set of issues she's responsible for, includes, and let me read, ocean fisheries, the Arctic, Antarctica, conservation, biodiversity, climate change, water, toxic chemicals --

KERRI-ANN JONES: (Inaudible.)

LINDSAY: -- endemic preparedness, innovation and just to give her something to do in her spare time, space. (Laughter.) So Assistant Secretary Jones has a very full inbox, I would imagine. She is eminently qualified to kick off our symposium today.

So please join me in thanking her for coming.

JONES: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you.

LINDSAY: Dr. Jones, the title of today's symposium is Global Resources, the U.S. Economy and National Security. From where you sit in the State Department, what do you see as the most significant trends in global natural resources?

JONES: Well, thank you. And I'd first like to thank the organizers of this meeting. It's a very important conversation to have at this point in time.

From where I sit, I see some of the things that we heard from Richard and Peter, the increasing stress on the natural resource (base ?) from all different directions, including climate change, but also the increasing population, the drive to develop and just the general push to overusing what we have and not sort of thinking about what that means in the long term. So that's from the natural resource piece.

But from where I sit in the State Department, what I worry about is foreign policy and national security. And so seeing these issues now become more and more threats to stability, sustained economic growth, they're foreign policy issues, because I see them in all of the countries I visit as topics that are migrating from the isolation of a ministry of environment to the ministry of foreign affairs, to the national security discussion.

So the pressures there -- we all know what they are -- coming at every country from different directions, and then when you look at the different states of developments of countries, it depends on how their reaction is going to be. And this is a turning point for some countries, how they go forward and how we can help influence choices, as well as make sure we're making the right choices.

LINDSAY: Fair enough. If we may, Dr. Jones, can we sort of look at one issue here? Let's think about fisheries, ocean fisheries.

JONES: Right.

LINDSAY: Can you give us some sense of the nature of the problem?

JONES: Sure. I think the number is something like 57 percent of marine fisheries are now under threat moving towards being unsustainable, and perhaps there are already 30 percent that are in serious trouble. So the number is very high. It's close to 87 percent that are stressed.

So that's significant. It's significant because of the overall ecosystem, but it's also very significant because that's an important food source for many countries, including many developing countries.

It also is important because nations compete for those fisheries. And when you have a resource that's becoming limited, that's important to your population, it's often one of the causes of conflict. And so that whole continuity from the natural resource issue -- what's happening to the fisheries, how do we know what's sustainable and what's not -- up to the competition for that resource, it's very significant. And so what we're trying to do is work on this on multiple fronts, bilaterally, regionally and multilaterally. We certainly try to make sure we're plugged into the science on all of this. And as you heard when Jim read all of those topics that are in my portfolio, those topics are in my portfolio from a foreign policy standpoint. So what we do is work with all of the technical agencies in the U.S. government to make sure that we have the science that we need to understand these questions.

So fisheries is a huge issue. I mean, we spend a tremendous amount of time looking at multilateral agreements to put in place approaches that can protect fisheries. For instance, there's a new treaty out there on port state measures to look at what happens when fish that are caught illegally, they are unregulated, are brought into port -- how are they dealt with in that port?

We also participate in many regional fisheries management organizations that are also treaty organizations that look at how do we make sure that the fish in that region are being fished in a sustainable way. So we're trying to use all kinds of tools to address this, but one of the things that we know is fundamental is significant engagement on all of this and keeping it on a foreign policy agenda.

LINDSAY: I want to get into sort of the mechanisms for dealing with the problem, if we could spend just a few more minutes talking about some other dimensions of the problem.

What about water and access to fresh water?

JONES: Well, fresh water is another, you know, tough issue, OK, because water's fundamental. It's fundamental for human survival, production of food, all kinds of very basic human needs. And across the globe, I think there are about 260 river basins that are shared by multiple countries. As water stress increases, there's a possibility for conflict -- transboundary conflict. And that's something we try to look at.

We also have been -- you know, Secretary Clinton had really pushed to elevate this issue, and Secretary Kerry is continuing that attention on water. We're also trying to make sure that our development programs really address this because it's a health issue in that there's so many diseases related to water. It's also such a fundamental development issue.

So I think -- you know, water is the -- I think is the epitome of a natural resource that we see being stressed and that we recognize has a tremendous effect on an individual life on a day-to-day basis, but it is a very significant national security issue.

LINDSAY: And just one other topic -- illegal logging, particularly deforestation and its link to climate change.

JONES: Well, that one you could sort of spend a whole day talking about. Illegal -- you could really spend a day talking about any one of these pieces. And illegal logging -- I think that we all know it's a huge industry in terms of -- logging -- forget illegal logging, but logging itself is a huge trade issue. And certainly there's a large percentage of that that's illegal. It threatens species that are endangered.

It also can lead to a lot of pressure on communities because communities depend on forest products for some of their economic survival. And if you have trees being taken out and moved out of a country illegally, that's a loss of income. We also know that sometimes these profits go to organizations that are terrorist organizations. The U.N. Security Council, I think it was last year, had a resolution to stop the import of charcoal that was coming from Somalia because that was related to a terrorist group.

And so, you know, the pressure is on on all of these resources. And so you sort of have gone through some of the big ones and just sort of touching on fish, water, logging. The stress on logging is also important because, you know, trees are a carbon sink. You sort of don't want to see deforestation happening for multiple reasons, but certainly the climate impact is significant as well.

I think that -- what I notice from my position is that I didn't come into this job as a -- as a fish person -- (laughs) -- or as a forest person. I came as a scientist. And what's really interesting is the convergence of all of these issues. You know, you see these multiple stresses on countries and you also see ministries and departments sort of struggling with how do you bridge this bureaucratically from a policy standpoint?

How do you make advances that will look at the local needs as well as the national needs? And then, how does that roll up into what the whole world is trying to do to sort of, you know, rebalance some of the consumption models that we're living under now that I think we have to try to change?

LINDSAY: Fair enough. Well, this connection between sort of resource scarcity and security is a theme that Secretary of State Kerry has picked up, indeed. On Monday, he unveiled a proposal to create a marine reserve in the Ross Sea.

JONES: Right.

LINDSAY: Now I'm going to ask you a second about that, but I'm just -- I think it's worth quoting Secretary of State Kerry. He said: This is not just an environmental issue, this is a security issue, it's an economic security issue, it's a national security issue. And it's not too hard, in some of these cases, to draw connections; for example, I read recently that some scientists predict that the glaciers that feed the great rivers of South Asia will be gone by 2050 and that will create significant problems for, among other things, agriculture in India, in Pakistan because they depend upon the various rivers for it.

JONES: Right.

LINDSAY: So how is this being handled within the U.S. government? I mean, because there's so many other issues going on. Is there coordination among the various parts of the State Department? Because you're really handling sort of a nontraditional set of national security issues.

JONES: Right. Well, it's an interesting question. I've worked off and on with the State Department a long time, from different jobs across the government. And I head up a bureau that's known as a functional bureau, right? And in the State Department you have geographic bureaus and functional bureaus. The geographic bureaus have been the traditional well-known points of contact, right, because that's how the geopolitical issues are often engaged in. What I have seen over the past 20 years is the increasing importance of the functional bureaus because these issues are being looked at on -- in almost every bilateral relationship we have. And so there is coordination across the State Department, and it's not just my bureau with regional bureaus, it's my bureau with the economic bureau, because this has an economic and trade dimension. It's my bureau with our new Bureau on Energy and Natural Resources because as you look to energy profiles, how do you think about what that profile means in terms of impact on the natural resource base? It's also looked at in terms of the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement because something like wildlife trafficking has really gotten to be an issue of organized crime and how do you move money around countries and understanding how money moves. So there's a lot of coordination going on across the State Department.

But more much broadly, as I said earlier, there's a lot of other agencies in the U.S. government involved in this, because more and more what has happened on these issues, the -- what used to be called the domestic agencies -- you know, Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation -- while their mandates all started domestically, the issues that they're involved in are now global. You know, Fish and Wildlife Service has to be engaged internationally. The National Institutes of Health does as well. And the reason I mention them is because the water and disease issue, the disease is coming from exotic animals that may be crossing borders illegally. So there's coordination across all of those technical agencies as well.

And I think it's challenging. No doubt about it. Because just as every country has a culture, so does every technical agency or every discipline. So we work across those. But it really is an effort to coordinate broadly, recognizing sort of the breadth of these issues and the technical depth that's required.

LINDSAY: OK. So you have a challenge sort of at home coordinating?

JONES: Oh, absolutely.

LINDSAY: But obviously, at the end of the day when you produce a policy, there's a limited amount to what the United States can do unilaterally. You have to work bilaterally, regionally, you mentioned, and multilateral.

JONES: Multilaterally.

LINDSAY: Let's just sort of take one example, maybe perhaps this proposal for a marine reserve in the Ross -- in the Ross Sea. As I understand it, there is a commission or panel was set up several decades ago to regulate issues related to marine life in the Antarctic.

JONES: Right.

LINDSAY: There had been hope that last November an agreement would be reached. An agreement wasn't reached, and so Secretary Kerry made his announcement -- I guess this is a proposal -- for the United States, New Zealand, maybe Australia. Maybe you want to sort of --

JONES: Sure, sure. It's a long story, here. And this is one of my favorite acronyms: CCAMLR, which is the Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. Only in Washington or the international community could we come up with something that interesting. CCAMLR is one of the groups that has been established under the Antarctic Treaty. And last October, November, it had a meeting. And there several proposals going into that meeting about creating marine protected areas. The U.S. and New Zealand both had proposals for creating a protected area in the Ross Sea, which is a very important area because it's in close to the coast and then it moves out. So it has a lot of teeming life; it has the coastline. It's been a very good laboratory in terms of seeing what's happening.

So we each had proposals. So we went into that meeting, and we were able to come together and develop a joint proposal. At that time, however, the members of CCAMLR were not ready to accept that proposal. There were other proposals on the table. Australia and the EU and France, I believe, have a proposal in the East Antarctic water -- the Southern Ocean. And so what's going to happen is, later in the summer, there's going to be another meeting to try to advance this proposal and get agreement.

Agreement in CCAMLR is by consensus, and so that's always a challenging international negotiation when it's consensus. There are countries involved in CCAMLR who fish in these areas. There are different interests. And so we are doing everything we can to talk to the countries in CCAMLR to make this come forward.

And what happened the other night when the secretary was speaking is, he was -- there was a film at the National Geographic that was about the Southern Ocean and about the area of the Ross Sea and why it's so important from a conservation standpoint. And so he was able to endorse this proposal along with New Zealand and Australia, and we were really pleased that the secretary wanted to be out there on one of his earliest discussions talking about this issue and recognizing that this isn't just about conservation. This is much bigger than that. This is all of the other topics we're talking about -- economics and national security.

LINDSAY: OK. I should point out that we're talking about a very vast amount of ocean. The notion I kept hearing was that it was nine times larger than New Zealand, which may not be an analogy that resonates with Americans, but it's three and a half times the size of Texas.

JONES: Right.

LINDSAY: Which is a mighty big state, I can assure you.

JONES: It'd be the largest -- it'd be the largest established --

LINDSAY: It'd be the largest -- it'd be the largest reserve. And one of the issues there that's complicated discussions is something known as the Antarctic Toothfish, which is better known to diners at restaurants as Chilean sea bass.

JONES: Not a very attractive fish, if you've ever actually seen a picture of it. (Laughter.)

LINDSAY: Yes. It turned out, I guess, in some of the cases, when they renamed it, sales went off the charts. But --

JONES: Marketing is everything.

LINDSAY: Marketing is everything. I'm curious, because when you look at this, this is sort of a plurilateral organization, CCAMLR. And at the other end of the spectrum, you have opportunities to do things unilaterally. The United States, beginning in the mid-1980s with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, tried to control fishing in sort of the United States' economic exclusion zone.

And my understand is, some fish stocks had begun to rebound because of legislation -- not all fish stocks. Particularly, I believe, cod off of Massachusetts or New England has not really recovered.

But in between there are the sort of bilateral efforts. And to what extent does the United States engage in sort of capacity-building so that maritime states can control their own economic exclusion zones and prevent overfishing in their own waters?

JONES: There's lots of different ways. A couple of things on that point. The other thing -- to go back to the Magnuson-Stevens Act -- our own domestic legislation also has ways to impact the international scene by, you know, what we expect from other countries that are bringing products into the U.S.

And so we have domestic legislation from both the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and we have the Lacey Act in terms of logging, and which was -- first started out in terms of wildlife, but extended to timber just a few years ago. And both of those are domestic legislation that have an impact on what comes into our country and how we sort of look at countries and regularly look at whether or not what they're bringing is -- has been taken appropriately, and whether or not we can, in some way, affect imports or think about other actions we can take.

So that's one -- that's the other piece of how we can sort of deal with things. So we do things unilaterally, but then sometimes our domestic legislation can have an international impact, certainly.

But from a bilateral perspective -- we have bilateral relationships with countries all over the world. And from a -- from a fishery standpoint, we have bilateral fisheries discussions, certainly with some of our key partners, like Canada. We talk a lot about fisheries with Canada because we share certain waters and boundaries.

But you know, most recently -- just to give you an example, I was in Malaysia last week, where we have a joint committee on science and technology. And this -- many countries want to have science and technology relationships with the U.S. in science because we have an excellent reputation and everyone wants to sort of learn how we do things and be partners.

In that group, one of the -- one of the areas that we have identified as a priority for our two countries are marine issues. And so we begin to think about their -- the research-base of understanding sustainable fisheries, linking the marine ministry in some way to the foreign policy ministry. So we do a lot through different channels. So some will be specifically about fisheries. Some will be about science and technology. And we're always kind of looking for ways to cross-fertilize topics where we know they play a role in these issues.

It's one of the interesting things in the bureau that I lead, that we look at the science that underpins everything and we try to have that inform it. We also use our science relationship as a way to further these other topics, you know, from a science base to conservation issues, because as you would imagine, often the U.S. can be viewed as coming in and saying: You should do this and you should do that. And you know, we don't have the best track record on certain issues. And sometimes that creates a difficult conversation. So really having a science-based approach to these topics is kind of fundamental to having a really good dialogue with partners around the world.

LINDSAY: Speaking of partners, I mean, obviously, when you look at international relations today, one of the most significant developments is the rise of China. And if you have been to China, or simply watched the news, you know that China has substantial internal environmental problems. To what extent have the Chinese been willing to engage in international discussions, or even bilateral discussions, with the United States on these issues -- whether it's fresh water, oceans, illegal logging, what have you?

JONES: Oh, they're very willing to engage. You know, it's -- we have multiple, multiple forums and venues where we engage with the Chinese bilaterally and regionally and multilaterally. Having sort of, as everyone knows, made a turn to the Pacific, we have many regional organizations where we are engaged.

You know, we have also with China -- let me give you one example. We have -- we've signed a memorandum of understanding on illegal logging with China. And I know that this is something that has come up often because, you know, with China -- (inaudible) -- what are they doing in other countries? How are they involved or, you know, what are there policies related to illegal logging?

So with this memorandum, we are able to have a regular dialogue with the Chinese very specifically, where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is at the table, but their Forestry Ministry is at the table, our forestry folks are at the table, trade people are at the table. And we talk about this from multiple perspectives. We talk about what their systems are for tracking illegal products. We talk about the requirements of our Lacey Act.

So we're very engaged. I think with every country, implementation and how do we ensure that what we're trying to do is complementary is a challenge, just because bureaucracies are different. So alignment is often a challenge. So you know, a lot of people -- at least, I have to say, some people in my family wonder why I'm in so many meetings all the time. But the meetings with bilateral partners are sort of how you get these discussions going.

And a lot of it is just learning each other's systems, recognizing you have similar priorities and then figuring out within those systems, how do you develop approaches that can make a difference. And the approaches sometimes culturally have to be different as well, just because of the way governments are structured.

LINDSAY: We talked a lot this morning about problems. And one of the downsides of talking about problems, you end up persuading everybody how difficult things are. So my last question, I guess, I want to ask you is, what have been our successes in this area? Have we made progress? Where have we made progress? What's the good news?

JONES: I think -- I think there's a lot of good news. I think, from my perspective, I think the issues -- the collection of issues we're talking about now are on the foreign policy/national security agenda in ways they have never been. I think -- and I think that's a very positive thing. I think when you have the leaders of APEC making a statement about wildlife trafficking, that would have been unheard of years ago, OK?

So that I think is a very big deal. Granted, that's in the diplomatic world, but that's how you begin to get traction on these issues. So I think that's very positive. And it's not just in APEC; we see it in many other places being put on the agenda.

I also think it's very positive in terms of wildlife trafficking that you are seeing an increase in arrests, you are seeing more shipments being stopped. There's more to do, but I think, again, the awareness on these issues is really, really increasing. And that is -- that's very positive.

I also think that the fact that -- just from a bureaucratic standpoint, when you see all of these different interest groups in a government beginning to talk across the silos, that's a very positive -- very positive sign. There's a lot -- there's a lot more to be done; there's no doubt about that. But I just -- I think there's a lot of progress. And I think -- the other piece of this is I think that the partnerships between governments, NGOs and the private sector has become much stronger -- much, much stronger. And I think that's going to continue to grow. And I think that will make a difference.

There's an activity that we're working on now called the Tropical Forest Alliance for 2020, which is a partnership -- so far the U.S. and the Netherlands are involved, but the Consumer Goods Forum is in it. And the point is the recognition that if you're a company and you're developing a lot of different products, well, you're getting them from some natural resource base. And so let's have the conversation about how do you green the supply chain? And that has impact on ecosystems in a -- in a fundamental way. So that discussion is starting.

Now, these are complicated discussions for sure. But they're happening, and I think they will make progress. I think the interesting thing in all of this is the level of detail you have to go into. And I think people are beginning to really make that commitment to dig in on an industry basis, on an ecosystem basis, and I think that's all good news.

LINDSAY: Terrific.

Right now, we're going to invite questions from our audience.

JONES: Sure.

LINDSAY: I would ask people in the audience to please wait for a microphone and speak directly into it. And I would ask you that you please stand, state your name and affiliation. And finally, in this long list of directions, I am to ask you to please keep your question and comments concise -- (laughter) -- to allow as many members as possible to speak. So -- sir.

QUESTIONER: Frank Loy from the Nature Conservancy.

JONES: Hi, Frank. (Chuckles.)

QUESTIONER: Thank you, Secretary, for a very informative talk.

My question is this: It seems increasingly difficult for the United States to ratify any treaty, even treaties that have bipartisan and broad support. My question is, is that the premise on which you're working? And how does that difficulty affect your negotiations?

JONES: We've noticed that too. (Laughter.) Yes, it is -- it is an interesting challenge. I think that we could all list a number of treaties that are pending ratification right now.

I think that we are looking at this in a very pragmatic way. I mean, this is the nature of our system. We work with Congress to sort of move forward on treaties. We -- as we are going into treaty negotiations, we are being very sensitive to the fact that when you're negotiating an international treaty, more and more, one foot is in the -- in the international world and one foot is the domestic.

And so we have some treaties that are pending because they require domestic legislation, what we call implementation language, to make sure that we align with whatsever (sic) in that treaty. So we're looking very closely as we go into negotiations as to how we think about all the legislation that might be needed, knowing that that's going to be a hurdle. So that's one thing.

The other is that we are looking at other ways of doing things. And I think many countries are looking at this as well. They may not have some of the congressional challenges we have, but having 193 countries come to a conclusion on increasingly complicated issues can take a long time. And I think there's an urgency on some of these issues that countries are beginning to be more sensitive to.

So you're seeing, I think, more creative regional activities. You're seeing more efforts to sort of keep the multilateral relations going, but also try to do other things that support them and take action. So it does make it a little bit difficult for the U.S. with our -- with our track record, but I think we're trying to now be very pragmatic to think about what we would really need in a treaty to sort of be able to sort of have our Senate be very supportive of it, and we sort of take that forward. And then there are these other channels that we're really trying to take actions with.

LINDSAY: (Inaudible) -- on this particular treaty question, how much would passage of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea Treaty help you in the area of what you're doing in terms of oceans?

JONES: It would be an enormous help. It would be an enormous help because we -- you know, we follow what is in that treaty as just sort of best practices, but it is -- it is sometimes difficult to be in organizations as an observer trying to be a leader. So you're not at the table, you're in the room. You are the United States, and so you do have -- you do have a platform to speak from, but you're not a member. And so it does -- it does give you -- it does give you a challenge in terms of how you can really help shape things in some of the important discussions. So that would be an enormous plus for us to join that treaty.

And as you know, it's a priority for this administration. It was a priority for Secretary Clinton. It is a huge priority for Secretary Kerry. So we're going to keep working on that.

LINDSAY: Fair enough.

Sherri.

QUESTIONER: Thanks, Jim. Thanks, Secretary Jones. And thanks to the council and Conservation International for organizing this. I think it's very, very important and very timely.

LINDSAY: Sherri, can I get you to identify yourself?

QUESTIONER: Sherri Goodman at -- Sherri Goodman, CNA. At -- on the rebalance to Asia, in national security circles it's often thought of in terms of the military balance and diplomatic throw-weight and other categories.

JONES: Right.

QUESTIONER: But you've raised some important issues here this morning. And I've been increasingly struck -- in a meeting I had with the Vietnamese ambassador to the U.S. just yesterday, he said the most important thing happening right now is the Lower Mekong Initiative, which is all about water.

JONES: that's right.

QUESTIONER: And so I wonder whether and how you see this set of national resource issues figuring higher on the agenda within this region as a critical part, as you and others have said, in ensuring global stability and preventing the factors of instability from water, climate change, energy and the weak state factor from becoming much more prominent in the future.

JONES: I agree with you. I mean, I think that the whole natural resource profile in Asia is an important part of our rebalancing thinking, OK? Because you have key maritime countries there. You have a country like Indonesia, which has an enormous amount of biodiversity, coastline, important natural resources. And they are developing very, very quickly, and that certainly is something that they're very concerned about.

I mean, they talk about the green economy and the blue economy. And so what does the blue economy mean? The blue economy, you know, you can look at it as a very positive term, but you have to -- you have to, I think, put into that term the sustainability as the base, because otherwise it's just another source of economic growth and you can't do that in an unsustainable way. And so you have competition for resources in that region among countries that are rapidly developing. They have some of the unique resources of the globe, but they also are going to be competing for resources in that growth curve. And so that is a piece of the overall, I think, you know, stability and importance of that region, and I see it as one of the issues, as we look at it on our foreign policy agenda.

LINDSAY: All the way to the gentleman in the back. If I could ask you to stand and give your name and affiliation.

QUESTIONER: Good morning.

JONES: Good morning.

QUESTIONER: (Clears throat.) Pardon me. John Doyle with the Aviation Week Group. You said several times about how these issues affect national security. I wonder if you could go into a little bit about what kind of cooperation and reach-out you're having with the armed services, and to the ability you can talk about it, what the current budgetary situation may or may not be doing to continuing those efforts.

JONES: Good question. We work a lot with the Defense Department on these issues. The Defense Department is sensitive to the stability and security issues related to a stressed natural resource base -- certainly climate, certainly water.

And so they're very involved in this. My own experience with them has been on the science side of things. The Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Research, they've been involved in many of the things that we do. They're very interested in the marine environment -- obviously, ONR is. And they were just with us in Malaysia talking about what kinds of work we could do with the folks in Malaysia regarding ocean mapping and understanding what's out there. And so they're -- they're sort of a member of the team when we go forward in an interagency process to talk about all these issues.

Certainly, in the wildlife trafficking, there have been discussions regarding what's going on in Africa and, you know, what the Defense Department has been looking at in Africa in terms of tracking different sorts of groups and their involvement in wildlife trafficking. So they're a member of the interagency team, as we're looking at this whole collection of issues.

The budget question I really can't answer, because that sort of is a dynamic situation right now. And every time I am at an interagency meeting, all the agencies are saying, we're working -- we're seeing what's happening. So I couldn't really give you, I think, the kind of answer that would -- that would -- that would tell you we see -- we see - we know where this is going to go. We do see a downward trend. We do hear that offices in the Defense Department are saying, you know, well, maybe we can't engage at the same level that we had hoped. But I don't have -- I don't have figures at this point.

LINDSAY: Young lady in the back.

QUESTIONER: Hi, Cindy Johnson (sp), (SNR Denton ?) and a member of the Chairman's Council of Conservation International. Assistant Secretary, it's so great to hear your views today. I don't think this falls in your purview, but I know that the FDA is reviewing a comment period on Atlantic salmon and whether or not Atlantic salmon will be able to be qualified as wild -- would it have altered DNA? And I believe the comment period for this is over in the middle of April.

I was just wondering about your agency. Do you interact with FDA on that, and -- or are other countries saying, hey, the United States, we don't think this is a great idea? I know that these fish are supposed to be offshore, and personally, my worry is that, you know, God forbid they escape from whatever marvelous tank they're in. But how does that affect your job, and what do you think about that topic?

JONES: At this point, that has not been on my screen as an issue. It has not been raised internationally to me in the different settings I have been in recently. The issue -- the more general issue of genetically-modified organisms and how different countries are dealing with it sometimes comes up, but the particular case you're mentioning doesn't come up.

We have been -- the work we have been doing predominately with FDA has to do more with the issue of, you know, counterfeit drugs and substandard medicines, which is a huge issue around the world and something that we try to deal with as a health issue and as an economic issue.

But the particular issue you're mentioning has not come on to my list of things. Which doesn't mean it won't, but my list is fine right now -- (laughter) --

LINDSAY: I was going to say, Assistant Secretary, it seems like it'd be easier to list the topics you're not involved with than the ones you are involved with.

JONES: I know.

LINDSAY: We're going to go over to this gentleman right here.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Bob Barnes from the Nature Conservancy; sorry for the hoarse voice. I'd like to come back to the issue of the role of traditionally domestic agencies in this very complex situation.

Many of the important domestic agencies in these arenas have no independent authority to operate overseas and no budget line to support that operation -- USGS, Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Department of Agriculture. It would seem to me that the administration should consider sponsoring legislation to create these authorizations for overseas activity and separate budget line to take some of the pressure off the foreign assistance budget.

I'd like your response to that.

JONES: It's a very good question. I've thought about that myself a few times. The issue that you raised about authorities is a really important one. And some of the agencies have international authorities in different ways. I know this because at one point I was asked by our colleagues in Congress to look at authorities related to -- specifically science and technology.

And so we looked at that. And USDA and NIH both have some international authority because of the nature of protecting the health of U.S. citizens and the food supply of U.S. citizens. FDA is increasingly going out there because of the percentage of -- when you look at drugs made in the U.S. -- drugs sold in the U.S., a huge percentage of the components of those drugs come from around the world. And so the standards in a Chinese factory or an Indian factory have to sort of be looked at. And so there's a -- there's a number of agencies that have some authority.

There are others that need more, but I think the question -- the question that's more at the root, I think, is a funding issue, because I think the agencies that have it and the ones that are maybe moving more forward than their authority necessarily states -- everyone recognizes that these systems are links, you know, that you can't really talk about the U.S. food system or our separate health system, you know, for drugs, or -- and the same thing with wildlife trafficking. I mean, you know, we are a market for wildlife, you know, that's brought in that should not be. So we are sort of not clear in this area. So we have to have fish and wildlife understanding, where things are coming from, which means they have to understand the systems around the world. So I think there's more and more recognition that domestic technical agencies really have to be involved in the world.

I think the budget issue is a big -- is a big question. It's a huge question, and I think at this time and the budget situation we're in, it's particularly difficult. But we are always having conversations with Congress about this. There are particular different groups in Congress that are interested. There's a -- there's a group that's very interested in conservation and wildlife. They talk to us a lot. Representative Rice, I think, is involved in that. We have a lot of champions on the Hill who are very concerned about fisheries because their states are on the water or they have -- they're very concerned about both the competitiveness issue, about where their fishermen can go. So we have pockets of support that are looking to how do you fund certain things, but the overarching budget question remains. And I think it's something we're just going to have to deal with as this continual kind of interconnectedness continues. I mean, it's just going to get more and more and more because we can see how systems are getting that way.

But I don't -- I don't know that there would be any interest right now in trying to sponsor additional funding when we are in the situation we're in. I think it's really talking more about getting the issues visible and then doing this on a case-by-case basis to sort of target some funds for very important topics.

LINDSAY: This gentleman over here.

QUESTIONER: Good morning.

JONES: Morning.

QUESTIONER: My name is Jeff Guyon (sp) with -- on the board of Conservation International.

And my kind of -- my question goes back kind of to the Defense Department. As you -- well -- are you well aware of that, you know, Afghanistan has depleted their force by 98 percent?

JONES: Yes.

QUESTIONER: The 2 percent left right now is under tremendous pressure for illegal logging going into Pakistan. Since we have the military there, do we have the might to try to stop that?

JONES: We certainly engage and talk to them about that. And I've met with the minister of environment of Afghanistan at one of the multilateral meetings. And we've talked a lot about it. Yes, we engage on those issues and we recognize that they are, you know, part of the overall stability question. I think it's a challenge to have that -- have that be the priority we think it should be. It's an ongoing discussion. I can't -- I can't answer your question with a yes or no, but we recognize that the military are often, you know, the first on the ground, the ones who are there who can make a big difference in sort of how environmental activities are happening or not happening. And so we are very engaged with discussions with them as we are, you know, around the world.

But conflict areas are by definition often extremely vulnerable for the environment, because, you know, nobody's paying -- people are taken with life and death situations, and they are using the resources in a very harsh way. And so trying to sort of turn that around, I think, is an ongoing -- it's an ongoing issue in any conflict situation.

LINDSAY: Dr. Stewart Patrick.

QUESTIONER: Hi, yeah, Stewart Patrick, senior fellow and director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance here.

Thank you very much, Secretary Jones. Just wanted to pick up on the challenges of multilateral diplomacy when it comes to conservation and sustainability in a couple of different senses. The first is, it seems to me that there is a significant fatigue about U.N. mega conferences that has built -- you know, there's been Johannesburg, obviously, Rio+20 more recently, but a lot of these sort of huge, 193-member conferences. Do you have a sense that that's the case and that most effective work is going to have to take place in sort of more minilateral coalitions of -- and not only the willing but the relevant?

And then the other is -- the other question has to do with your -- the bureaucratic issue you raised, which that just as in the State Department functional bureaus tend to lose out to regional bureaus or at least --

JONES: Not so much anymore.

QUESTIONER: Not so much anymore That's good.

JONES: (Laughs.)

QUESTIONER: That's good to hear. In the international arena, it -- you know, when you have -- when you have a a conference of parties that are negotiated by environment ministers, they tend to be a little bit underpowered compared to secretaries of the treasury or ministers of foreign affairs. Do you see that changing? Because that seems to me the way to get this up to the next level.

JONES: Right. On your first point, on the multilateral fatigue, I think -- I think we have to do all of those things. I think you have to do multilateral as well as the regional as well as some dynamic plurilateral activities. I think -- you know, I was at Rio+20 last summer. And I think one of the things that struck me was that that conference had so many issues on it. I mean, it had everything on it. And every one of them is a complex issue. So every one of them sort of is kind of, how could you negotiate something that would come forward from that that could really get into or address all of the issues that were there? I think that the outcome document sort of, you know, is a good framework document, but then you have to pick each piece and go after it. I think that we need to continue the multilateral dialogues or conventions. I think we will have to think about more creative ways to do them because they're very expensive and look at ways to use all this new technology, electronic and whatnot, that we can do to connect.

But you know, we just had -- on a different subject, we just had a multilateral convention developed for mercury, OK, that was successful, OK. And it was very interesting to me because it's a singular issue. Now granted there's multiple products and there's multiple sources and everything, but it was a very singular issue. And I think that was -- that's going to be something that I think we can look at as success.

I think when you move over to the collection of issues that defines sustainable development, it's huge. It's huge. And so we have to sort of think about them as they're all connected. No doubt about it. But you have to sort of think about, so how do you make advances on them? And so I think that's why you have to have both the multilateral and the regional and all the other -- all the other approaches.

And then your second question, which I had forgotten, was --

QUESTIONER: This is on the fact that many of the multilateral negotiations take place with ministers of the environment or, you know, at the undersecretary level.

JONES: Right, right. And this is absolutely true. I participate in UNEP meetings, U.N. environmental program, and have really been struck by the environment ministers sometimes being somewhat isolated from the give-and-take of financial movements and power struggles and everything else that go along. And so I think one of the things you see -- and you certainly see it happening in climate -- is finance ministers are getting very involved, OK, which is really important.

I also think that in having the Rio Conference this summer, one of the most important things was to rebalancing, to say sustainable development is not just environment. It's environment, it's economic and its social. And the convergence of the economic perspective of environmental issues is very important, and so the finance people, I believe, need to be sitting at the table. It's -- you know, on a more granular level it's -- the private sector has to be involved, because the private sector is sort of developing and making choices and they want -- you know, they're always looking at profit but they also have to sort of be involved in discussing, so what are the environmental impacts and how do we make choices? SO I think there's a recognition of that, and I think more and more that is happening.

And certainly in settings when I'm traveling, I try to meet with multiple ministries. And I think many of my colleagues do that as well. So I think that's more of a trend that is happening, that environment is becoming less isolated in sitting over here and much more integrated in the discussions.

LINDSAY: Oh, David, go ahead.

QUESTIONER: David Hitchings from Northrop Grumman corporation. My question is, do you think you have enough sensors in the space, sky, sea and land not only for your scientists to understand the problems, but also for enforcing the treaties that you have already worked on?

JONES: Probably not. (Laughter.) I mean, I think the sensor technology is developing at a rapid -- a rapid pace, OK? And I think that there is a general recognition that in terms of both understanding the environment as well as tracking what's happening, we're just in a whole new -- whole new world of possibility.

I mean, if you look at -- I think -- what is it -- Google Forest 2.0 (sic: Global Forest Watch 2.0) or something like that, that's a collaboration with Google, World Resources Institute and the University of Maryland. I mean, they're going to be looking at forestry and what's happening in ways that we never even thought about before.

I was at a meeting the other day with some ocean scientists who were talking about the fact that we now or very soon will have the capacity to begin to map the ocean that way. And of course, I was with a bunch of oceanographers, so they felt it was very unfair that space was getting more sensors than the oceans. But, you know, the technology is rapidly developing.

I think this is a -- this is something where there's great potential. The challenge is, how do you coordinate it globally? How do you make sure all the data has open access, which is one of our themes over and over and over again, every place we go?

And how do you make sure that you can sustain the infrastructure? I was -- as I said, in Malaysia; I was also in Australia last week, and in Australia, we talked a lot about, how do we make sure the continuity of the Earth observing systems that we have continue? And we come back to budgets. So that -- you know, you have this -- we just launched, I guess, Landsat 8, which was -- which was a really good thing to do. And all of that Landsat data is available, but there are other satellite systems where we have budget questions.

So I think that -- I think the short answer is no, we can do more with sensors. I think it is a -- it's an area of great potential. But I think the coordination and the sustainability of infrastructure are very big issues we're going to have to talk about.

LINDSAY: Secretary Jones has a meeting that she has to go off to, so we have time for one last question.

Before I take it, I just want to remind all the participants that this session has been on the record. And we'll go to the back of the room.

QUESTIONER: Madam Secretary, Bobby Charles, former assistant secretary for INL.

JONES: Oh, great.

QUESTIONER: And I wanted to just pose a question. I don't envy you -- the breadth of your reach and the budget problems.

JONES: Thank you.

QUESTIONER: But budget follows relevance, and as a former also DOD-related person, I wonder if any thought has been given to a model or a process by which you could identify resource triggers of national security crises.

In other words, I particularly think of AFRICOM, where we know there are national security crises coming related to resources. Is there any comprehensive process under way -- a multilateral or U.S. or DOD and State to put a model of some kind into place that would be predictive rather than just kind of broadly looking at treaties?

JONES: Somebody I heard give you an answer up here. And it's kind of taking information to that next step. It's sort of understanding the intelligence that's out there on the ground and trying to be prepared as best we can.

We are certainly in discussions with AFRICOM as to what's happening -- what we're seeing on the ground -- in particular, you know, recently related to some reporting on wildlife trafficking and potential groups moving across Africa. And so, we're in those discussions, but that's sort of the first phase of your -- of an answer to your question.

The next one, about modeling -- I think we have to sort of think a little further about that, because there's an interesting issue here, which is, across cultures -- between the conservation culture and the defense culture. This is a -- sometimes a sensitivity within countries, and it's one of the things we are working very hard to sort of bring down those barriers and sort of have real conversations about, how do you bring these communities together? I've worked on this in health with defense at times. It's very similar in the conservation area. So we're sort of having those conversations, but we're not far -- as far along as to say, you know, we have models and we're there yet.

LINDSAY: Very good. Secretary Jones, thank you for such an excellent set of remarks. You've given us a lot to think about over the remainder of the day. (Applause.)

JONES: Thank you, thank you all.

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