Remarks by NOAA Administrator as head of U.S. delegation at Yeosu World Expo 2012, National Day of the United States of America

Remarks at the National Day of the United States of America
Opening Ceremon
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July 4, 2012
World Expo 2012
Yeosu, Korea

Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D.
Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere & NOAA Administrator

July 4, 2012

Commissioner Lee, Ambassador Kim, Student Ambassadors for the USA Pavillion, friends and guests:   Thank you for joining us today.  On behalf of President Obama and the United States of America, welcome to the National Day of the United States of America.  

The United States thanks Korea for hosting the 2012 World Expo.  The United States’ commitment to World Expo 2012 highlights the strong relationship between our country and the Republic of Korea.   Yeosu’s beautiful ocean vistas are a wonderful backdrop for the ‘living ocean and coast’ theme for the 2012 Expo.

Many thanks to The USA Pavillion and their wonderful corporate sponsors - Becton Dickinson; Boeing; Chevron; Citi; GE, Corning Incorporated; Hyundai Motor America; Kia Motors America; Lockheed Martin, and Samsung Electronics America, Inc. –  for generously funding the Pavillion. Featuring the themes of Diversity, Wonder and Solutions, The USA Pavilion shares the voices and hopes of the American people with our friends and partners in Korea and around the globe.

This morning on the world’s coasts, fishermen and women are heading out to sea to fish for the bounty that will feed millions of people.  Back on shore, hungry vacationers are sitting down to breakfast before spending the day on beaches and boardwalks.   And across the bay, cargo ships are unloading goods destined for consumers like you and me.  Beyond the scientific community, few people know that the ocean provides most of the oxygen we breathe or that it helps regulate climate.  From life-support to fun to jobs, our living oceans and coasts are the heartbeats of human existence on this planet. 

There is no doubt that oceans play a vital role in the lives of people, sustenance of communities, and prosperity of nations.   But, as science shows us, the oceans are not infinite in their bounty.  In many arenas, we are not just using oceans, we’re using them up.  Overfishing, climate change, ocean acidification, land-based pollution running into the sea, land development, and other stressors have disrupted and degraded ocean ecosystems.  We are at a tipping point – a time when we must move quickly to manage our oceans and coasts in ways capable of sustaining us into the future. 

The United States is committed to healthy oceans.  I need not remind you that healthy oceans translate to healthy economies. 

The U.S. commitment to this goal can be seen in our National Ocean Policy – a policy that applies science in an ecosystem-based approach to managing oceans and coasts.   This policy, established in 2010, is the first-ever such policy in America’s history.

But what we call oceans is really one big ocean that covers 70 percent of the Earth’s surface.  We are indeed a blue planet.  A shared vision for hope and progress means working together to understand and share in the stewardship and bounty of oceans.  As friends and allies, the United States and Korea are working together to advance practical solutions to the world’s energy and environmental challenges.  For example, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Korea Center for Atmospheric Environment Research have a long history of collaboration, particularly on global carbon tracking. The U.S Department of Energy and the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy recently signed a statement committing to collaborate on smart grid–related research and development. And in the private sector, American and Korean companies are cooperating to advance clean technologies that will help reduce pollution, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions around the world.

What will the future hold for our grandchildren, their children, and the generations to come?  Let us share both the hope and the responsibility for a healthy ocean future – a future when our living ocean and coasts can still provide sustenance, pleasure, and prosperity for people, communities, businesses, and nations across the globe.

Some who cares deeply about building a healthy ocean future is Philippe Cousteau.  I can think of no one better suited to be Chief Spokesperson for The USA Pavillion.  Philippe?

Dr. Jane Lubchenco
Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere
and NOAA Administrator