Secretary Antony Blinken has designated Monica P. Medina as the United States’ Special Envoy for Biodiversity and Water Resources, signaling the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to resolving the world’s intertwined biodiversity and water crises. Monica Medina is the Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs and will take on the Special Envoy designation in addition to her current duties.
The months ahead are important for advancing efforts to confront these crises, and enhanced U.S. leadership is essential for raising global ambition and securing a healthier planet for generations to come. The 2022 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), the December meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of Parties (COP15), and the Intergovernmental Conference negotiating a new agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of high seas biodiversity (BBNJ) present a unique confluence of global efforts to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity and promote water security. Special Envoy Medina will coordinate an all-of-government effort to address these crises comprehensively – leveraging talent and expertise in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs with resources from across federal government departments and agencies. Moreover, her designation as special envoy will strengthen the Department’s role in implementation of the White House Water Security Action Plan and the Global Water Strategy, as well as provide high-level leadership ahead of the 2023 UN Conference on Water.
Decades of evidence shows that water security is essential to global efforts to increase equity and economic growth, build inclusive and resilient societies, bolster health and food security, decrease the risk of conflict or instability, and tackle the climate crisis. Meanwhile, environmental stressors, like the climate crisis, nature crime – including illegal logging, mining, land conversion, and wildlife trafficking – have deep and detrimental impacts on the biodiversity of our planet and the availability of clean and safe water for human use. The two crises are inextricably linked, and the State Department and Special Envoy Medina are committed to addressing the crises holistically.