Migratory Birds Conference
Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Termas de Puyehue, Chile
October 6, 2003
you. It's an honor and a privilege to welcome you here. I'm very excited about
this historic meeting -- the first gathering of Western Hemisphere countries to
focus on cooperative efforts to conserve migratory wildlife.
It is a
pleasure for the U.S. Department of State to be able to join the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service in co-hosting this event. I am also pleased to recognize other
important collaborators and partners from the United States who are here to
participate. These include the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest
Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Smithsonian Institution, International
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency,
and representatives from our Embassies in Chile and Brazil. I am also pleased to
be able to conduct our discussions in parallel with the meetings of the
Neotropical Ornithological Congress. We can benefit greatly from their
dedication and expertise.
We have an
opportunity and a charge here given to us by leaders of the Western Hemisphere
in 2001, when they met in Canada and called for the development of a strategy
for the Hemisphere to support the conservation of migratory wildlife throughout
the Americas. Birds are our starting point in this discussion, because birds
connect us as neighbors here in the Americas. Also we realize that many species
of migratory birds are in trouble and declining. Finally, bird conservation has
significant public constituencies, with many model efforts underway.
foundations on which we can build as a community. One example is the habitat
set-asides of the North American Migratory Waterfowl Management Plan. Other
examples with United States involvement are the Neotropical Bird Conservation
Act and the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.
Here in the
Western Hemisphere, migratory birds remind us that we are neighbors. These
living resources speak to us of our shared environment, economies, and culture.
They challenge us all to become better stewards of the natural resources on
which we all depend. Perhaps if we take better care of migratory birds, we can
also take care of other species of wildlife, our watersheds, forests, and other
next few days, I hope we can get to know each other better, share our concerns,
take stock of our collective ideas, and put together the building blocks of a
process for the future. I challenge you to do your best here at this historic
beginning for conservation in our Hemisphere. We have the opportunity to mold a
richer legacy of living resources for current and future generations.
of a trip this summer to the northern island of Svalbard, Norway. I encountered
a protective and feisty arctic tern defending her nest. She was gallantly trying
to remove a chunk of my bald scalp. Think of the remarkable commitment of this
species to its migratory route spanning thousands of miles, reaching the
extremes of North and South. We owe it to this arctic tern to exhibit similar
dedication, perseverance, and boldness in working to become better stewards of
again for coming -- to begin building a path that will ultimately benefit
migratory species, and, in turn, benefit ourselves.
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October 12, 2003