Statement from USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa on Earth Day

Press Release Shim

Speeches Shim

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Office of Press Relations
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email:

Today, on April 22, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) commemorates this 50th Earth Day by celebrating the many ways our Agency works to increase the health of ecosystems around the world. Our approaches include the conservation, management, and restoration of forests, three major pathways for addressing the habitability of our planet.

USAID's work to conserve ecosystems and natural resources not only helps the environment, but also makes communities healthier and creates new economic opportunities. Forests provide a wealth of benefits, including carbon storage, habitats for biodiversity, protection against natural disasters, and cooling in urban areas. They also provide nutrition, fuel, timber, and medicine to forest-dwellers as well as precious supplies to people and industries elsewhere. Today, more than a billion people across the world rely on the Earth's forests for at least some part of their livelihood. Children in forested areas benefit from the nourishment of more varied diets, and cleaner water means they suffer less from diarrheal disease.

USAID funds global programs to reduce deforestation, improve the management of forests, and promote the reforestation of degraded lands where conservation is no longer possible. For example, USAID financed the rehabilitation of 17,000 hectares of degraded mining lands in the Antioquia and Chocó regions of the Republic of Colombia in ways that reflect diverse ecosystems and socio-economic realities. In the Republic of Perú, USAID funds research on reforestation methods, and has tested more than 40 native plant species for their potential to grow on degraded Amazon forest lands.

USAID also has robust programs to reduce consumer demand for wildlife and wildlife parts, the dangers of which the pandemic of COVID-19 has made alarmingly clear. By supporting effective law enforcement in these efforts, advocating to eliminate the trade in wildlife, often taken from forest ecosystems under threat, and working to protect intact forests, we can help thwart the emergence of future unknown diseases.

When faced with today's unprecedented global challenges, it is sometimes hard to see the opportunities that lie in front of us, but the spirit of our USAID community is one of optimism, resilience, and courage. The crisis of COVID-19 has demonstrated how deeply interconnected we are and how collectively responsible we must be in our efforts to preserve our global health and the health of the planet. On this Earth Day 2020, we recognize the many ways the planet's forests and lands benefit us all.