NOAA 2002-071
Contact: Bob Hopkins
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Vice Admiral Lautenbacher to Announce Rollout of Oceans Initiative

The links between land use and fresh water to the health of ocean and coastal resources will be the focus of Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr., USN (ret.), under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa. Lautenbacher is representing the U.S. Department of Commerce on the U.S. delegation at the summit. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an agency of the Commerce Department.

“As the world’s coastal populations continue to grow and coastal areas develop we must take a broader view of management practices to include inland areas and fresh water,” Lautenbacher said. “Only by understanding more about the interaction of these diverse ecosystems can we ensure the safe and healthy development of coastal areas and the conservation of our valuable ocean resources.”

Lautenbacher will be on hand in South Africa to announce the “White Water to Blue Water” Initiative on Sept. 2. The White Water to Blue Water initiative emphasizes a cross-sectoral approach to ecosystem management beginning with the upstream sectors (watersheds, inland forests, agricultural areas and population centers - collectively, the source of approximately 80 percent of marine pollution), and extending through the wetlands, mangrove swamps and coral reefs (the nurseries for most of the commercial species on which human populations depend) into the ocean (a driver of the earth’s linked ocean/atmosphere systems and essential element of economic growth).

One goal of the initiative is to improve national capacities of coastal states to manage entire coastal-marine ecosystems by engaging the full range of up-stream and down-stream stakeholders.

A second, equally important goal is to promote better regional and cross-border coordination between states, international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector to make best use of available resources.

The United States has agreed to take the leading governmental role in the first phase of White Water to Blue Water, which will focus on the wider Caribbean. Involving a wide range of partners, including governments, NGOs, universities, and the private sector, the initiative will begin with a U.S.-hosted kick-off conference in 2003.

White Water to Blue Water is the result of a U.S. multi-agency effort, including input from the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, State, U.S. Agency for International Development and the Environmental Protection Agency. Similar programs could expand to Africa and the South Pacific in 2004 and 2005.

“White Water to Blue Water is an innovative plan that engages governments and stakeholders on every level to participate in the process of more effectively managing coastal and marine resources and to seek out new ways to address environmental challenges,” Lautenbacher said. “This inclusive approach looks beyond coasts to address the myriad of inland activities, such as agriculture and sewage runoff, that can degrade coastal environments and impact marine resources such as fisheries and coral reefs.”

NOAA is also a major contributor to the Geographic Information for Sustainable Development (GISD) Initiative, a U.S.-led international collaboration and alliance that applies a new generation of earth observation data, state-of-the-art geographic information systems technologies, and field-tested geographic knowledge to ongoing sustainable problems in diverse target areas within Africa. The aim is to assist local, national and international users working in Africa to address long-term challenges such as disaster mitigation, natural resource management, trade and poverty alleviation.

For more information on NOAA participation at WSSD, please visit

For more information on WSSD, please visit

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