Navy, Air Force participate in Conservation Congress

Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Installations, Environment and Energy) Miranda Ballentine delivers remarks Sept. 5 at the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress in Honolulu.

Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Installations, Environment and Energy) Miranda Ballentine delivers remarks Sept. 5 at the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress in Honolulu.

Story and photo by MC2 Katarzyna Kobiljak

Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Hawaii

Approximately 8,000 attendees from 170 countries joined the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu Sept. 1-10.

The IUCN is a membership union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organizations. It provides public, private and non-government organizations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together. The conference gathers every four years, and took place in the U.S. for the first time in its 84-year history.

“Today, the United States is proud to host the IUCN Congress for the first time,” President Barack Obama said in his remarks to leaders from the Pacific Island Conference of Leaders and the IUCN WCC during his visit to Hawaii. “When it comes to climate change, there is a dire possibility of us getting off course, and we can’t allow that to happen.

That’s why our united efforts are so important.”

Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Installations, Environment and Energy) Miranda Ballentine delivered remarks during a U.S. Department of Defense conservation panel at the IUCN.

Working with many partners and supporters, the IUCN implements a large and diverse portfolio of conservation projects worldwide, with the U.S. Navy being one those partners and supporters present during the convention this year.

“An environmental event of this scale in Hawaii presents a great opportunity to bring focus to the Navy’s conservation efforts,” Cory Scott, an environmental planner at U.S. Pacific Fleet and representative for the Navy information booth at the convention, said.

From the information displayed at the Navy’s information booth, attendees were able to find out how the Navy uses proactive measures before, during and after training, and how testing is implemented to avoid impacts on marine species.

Information was also available to inform patrons on how the Navy invests in shipboard technologies that improve environmental compliance and protects marine life. An example of this can be seen in the use of new specialized shipboard processors, which can reduce plastic waste volume by 70 percent, protecting marine life from harmful marine debris. These Navy shipboard compactors are currently being implemented around the fleet.

Scott said the Navy does not only lead in marine mammal research, but also makes that information accessible to the public and its partner institutions worldwide.

“The U.S. Navy’s commitment as ‘stewards of the sea’ is first to defend freedom, and secondly, to protect the environment,” David Hodge, a community relations manager at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, said.

Another one of the Navy’s key focus during the convention was emphasizing the reduction of pollution by way of its “Great Green

Fleet” initiative. The Navy’s Great Green Fleet initiative reinforces and sustains a culture of valuing energy as a strategic resource in all routine, and underway, operations worldwide.

According to Hodge, the Navy actively works to pursue cost-competitive biofuel blends that can be used as a replacement for conventional petroleum.

“I am amazed by the Navy’s Great Green Fleet initiative,” Hodge said. “Biofuels used by the Navy not only save a lot of taxpayer dollars, but more importantly, they greatly reduce pollution.”

During the convention, Rear Adm. John W. Korka, commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific, stressed the Navy’s commitment to protecting the environment in a Department of Defense conservation panel.

“Our mission is pretty clear: to preserve the freedom of the United States, but we also have a responsibility to our environment,” Korka said.

During his visit to Hawaii, President Obama also signed a proclamation several days prior to the IUCN WCC, expanding the Papa-hanaumokuakea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii, an act that was applauded by U.S. Sen. for Hawaii Brian Schatz during his IUCN WCC opening ceremony speech.

In his remarks, Schatz said that he felt hopeful about conservation efforts knowing that all of the partner-nations participating in the IUCN convention have the same common goal in mind, “to protect the only planet that we share.”

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