The President's 1995 National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement recognizes that a broad class of global threats evident in the post-Cold War world affect our nation's security. The United States is not isolated from the effects of disease, disasters, or misery elsewhere in the world. In the modern world, diseases readily cross borders, and environmental degradation can have global consequences that threaten the populations of all nations. Great human suffering due to natural disasters or to other environmental, economic, or social and political factors may lead not only to large numbers of refugees crossing international borders but also to instability that increases the likelihood of ethnic and regional civil conflict. Understood in these terms, the security of the United States therefore requires engagement with the developing world and with countries in transition to democracy, to take steps to prevent deadly conflict, to encourage economic development that can be sustained for growing populations, and to respond to threats to the environment and human health.
Outbreaks of new or reemerging infectious diseases may endanger the health of U.S. citizens even if the root causes of the problem lie in distant parts of the world. The tragedy of HIV/AIDS has already made this clear. Diseases affecting humans, plants, and animals are spreading rapidly as a result of trade and travel and, especially when combined with malnutrition, threaten public health and productivity on a broad scale. The rapidly growing human population, widespread pollution, and the deterioration of other environmental factors that contribute to the maintenance of good health, as well as the lack of dependable supplies of clean drinking water for fully a fifth of the world's people, contribute to the acceleration and spread of such diseases. Natural disasters, the burden of which falls disproportionately on the poor, pose an especially dramatic threat to sustainable development. The costs of natural disasters are high and have been escalating. For example, domestic natural disasters (ranging from hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods to wildfires and ice storms) now cost the United States more than $1 billion each week. Internationally, the impacts can be greater still. In addition to causing widespread human tragedy and loss of life, for the poorest nations of the world a single natural disaster can reduce the gross national product for that year by as much as 25 percent. Losses of this magnitude represent enormous setbacks to a nation's or region's economic and human development. And in a number of regions, these events occur frequently.
Whereas natural disasters threaten human life and sustainable development in a catastrophic manner, global threats such as climate change, ozone depletion, and ocean pollution may take years or even decades to become apparent and build toward crisis. Yet each of these poses challenges to the health and long-term well-being of both U.S. citizens and people throughout the world.
The loss of biodiversity is an especially urgent threat, the consequences of which are irreversible. The permanent loss of species means we will no longer have these organisms as sources of medicines, oils, fibers, food, chemicals, and other commodities of importance to both industrial and developing societies.
The explosive growth of the world's population is of primary importance and exacerbates many of the dilemmas already discussed. Recent history has shown that, in some developing countries, even the most impressive gains in total economic output can be offset by rapid population growth. Population pressures already contribute to violent disorder and mass dislocations in poor societies. Internally displaced persons-who might become refugees-pose a long-term threat to the integrity of their own and other nations as well as to global stability.
As the world's population grows to exceed 8 billion people by 2025, most of this increase will occur in the cities of developing countries. Worldwide, urban population is expected to increase from 1 billion people in 1985 to 4 billion in 2025. Increases in income, greater urbanization (which leads to a shift in diet from roots, tubers, and lower quality grains to higher quality cereals, livestock, and vegetables), and overall population growth could mean that the demand for food in 2025 will be more than double that of current levels of production.
Individually or collectively, threats such as these can increase the likelihood of destabilization of countries in the developing world. Regional or civil conflicts, hastened or exacerbated by environmental stress, could involve the United States in costly and hazardous military interventions, peacekeeping, or humanitarian operations. As is the case in Haiti, severe environmental degradation and resource depletion may make economic recovery much more difficult, thereby prolonging dependence on aid and impeding a nation's recovery from social or political chaos and progress toward democracy and prosperity.
Research in the natural and social sciences helps us to understand the origins, characteristics, and consequences of global problems. Finding solutions to these problems, and elucidating the complex chains of cause and effect through which they may be linked, requires a coordinated effort by natural and social scientists, engineers, and policymakers. U.S leadership in science and technology is therefore an important element of our national security.
In some cases, research and monitoring programs offer the only substantial warning to government officials and to the public of an emerging problem. For example, through remote sensing, we can have warning of famine and continue to accumulate a record of the state and evolution of the basic components of our biosphere. Such observations and measurements, coupled with the development of predictive models, are necessary tools for policymaking in the post-Cold War security environment.
Transforming scientific breakthroughs into new technologies can have a profound impact on development. Wise stewardship of these technologies is essential. One challenge is to use technology in such a way that it achieves advances in productivity without compromising long-term natural resource viability. For example, technology helped bring about the Green Revolution, which resulted in increased agricultural productivity worldwide. But at the same time, poorly designed irrigation systems led to soil degradation in some areas. In the decades ahead, technology will be required to feed and provide energy for a growing world population while minimizing impact on the integrity of soil, water, air, forests, and other natural resources. In addition, insights from the social sciences can provide the basis for redesigning research and resource management institutions to achieve the efficient use of resources with minimal disruption to the environment. A major parallel challenge to science and technology will be to make contraception more affordable and effective.
The Administration's strategy for meeting the challenges described above rests on three pillars: preventive diplomacy, promoting sustainable development, and responding to global threats. Preventive diplomacy endeavors to resolve problems, reduce tensions, and defuse conflicts before they become crises. The promotion of sustainable development seeks to ensure that development occurs in a manner that can be maintained for the long term, thereby avoiding environmental, resource, or other degradation that fosters poverty and instability. Finally, there is a class of global threats that may take years or decades to become apparent or to build toward crisis but which may directly threaten the well-being of U.S. citizens as well as people around the globe. Responding to these threats will require decisive domestic action as well as international cooperation.
The Administration emphasizes support for democracy, sustainable development, traditional diplomacy, and military strength to prevent conflicts from escalating into violence and to contain conflicts that do occur. This strategy defines the practice of preventive diplomacy. When combined with timely early warning systems, and a commitment to use the warning information, preventive diplomacy is a wise investment in national security, offering the prospect of resolving problems with the least human and material cost. The tools of social science are required to identify the most significant factors involved in producing conflicts, and information technologies are needed to detect changes in these factors and to provide early warning. Because this strategy is based on prevention, its successes will often have to be measured in terms of undesirable events that do not happen.
Many conflicts that have occurred since the end of the Cold War may owe more to struggles for political or economic control rather than to environmental stress or population growth. In the case of those conflicts that are essentially political in derivation, the role for science and technology narrowly conceived to prevent or manage them will necessarily be constrained.
As part of its prevention strategy, the Administration is vigorously promoting sustainable development, both at home and abroad. Sustainable development requires that the economies of the world, including our own, try to meet contemporary needs without compromising the resources available to future generations.
Science and Technology for the Prevention of Civil Conflict
The Administration is seeking greater understanding of the role of factors such as endemic poverty, environmental degradation, food scarcity, demographic tensions, and communicable disease in leading to conflict, in order to better design policies of prevention and mitigation. The costs of prevention are most often outweighed by the costs of military intervention once violence has erupted.
The President has asked the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) to examine the interaction between the outbreak of conflict and physical and societal stresses. PCAST will also assess the role that international cooperation in science and technology can play in alleviating these stress factors, thereby contributing to sustainable development and economic and political stability. PCAST will also examine cases of successful and unsuccessful interventions by intergovernmental organizations, international financial institutions, other governments, and nongovernmental organizations.
Domestically, the United States works to halt local and cross-border environmental degradation. In addition, the United States fosters environmental technology, targeting pollution prevention, control, and cleanup. Companies that invest in energy efficiency, clean manufacturing, and environmental services today will create the high-quality, high-wage jobs of tomorrow. By providing access to these types of technologies, our exports can also provide the means for other nations to achieve environmentally sustainable economic growth. At the same time, we are taking ambitious steps at home to better manage our natural resources and reduce energy and other consumption, decrease waste generation, and increase our recycling efforts.
Internationally, the Administration's foreign assistance program focuses on four key elements of sustainable development: broad-based economic growth; the environment; population, health, and nutrition; and democracy and governance. We will continue to advocate environmentally sound private investment and responsible approaches by international lenders. At our urging, the multilateral development banks are now placing increased emphasis upon sustainable development in their funding decisions, to include a commitment to perform environmental assessments on projects for both internal and public scrutiny. In particular, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), established in 1994, will provide a source of financial assistance to the developing world for climate change, biodiversity, and oceans initiatives.
Very early, multiple, closely spaced pregnancies drastically increase the health risks to women and their children, limit opportunities for women, and diminish the ability of families to invest in their children's education and health.
The Administration is leading a renewed global effort to address population problems and promote international consensus for stabilizing world population growth. The United States supports further research to improve existing methods of contraception and to provide a better variety of methods appropriate to different phases of couples' reproductive lives. In addition, the Administration's comprehensive approach stresses family planning and reproductive health care, maternal and child health, education, and improving the status of women. The International Conference on Population Development, held in September 1994 in Cairo, endorsed these approaches as important strategies in achieving global population goals.
Defining Sustainable Development
The most commonly used definition of the term "sustainable development" is one that originated with the 1987 report, Our Common Future, by the World Commission on Environment and Development (known as the Bruntland Commission). By that formulation, sustainable development is "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.'
Since the release of the Bruntland Commission report, the phrase has been broadened and modified. The term "sustainable" has gained usage because of increasing concern over exploitation of natural resources and economic development at the expense of environmental quality. Although disagreement exists as to the precise meaning of the term beyond respect for the quality of life of future generations, most definitions refer to the viability of natural resources and ecosystems over time and to the maintenance of human living standards and economic growth. The popularity of the term stems from the melding of the dual objectives of environmental protection and economic growth. A sustainable agricultural system, for example, can be defined as one that can indefinitely meet the demands for food and fiber at socially acceptable economic costs and environmental impacts.
In the past, research and development in the field of contraception has emphasized methods with high inherent contraceptive efficacy and safety. Both in the United States and abroad, the increasing need to simultaneously address prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, along with prevention of unintended pregnancies, calls for a shift in emphasis. For this reason, the Administration is now giving highest priority in research and development to products or methods that meet these needs. In addition, the Administration seeks further research specific to the needs of particular countries or regions on the acceptability and use-efficacy of present and future methods.
The enhancement of international food security plays an important role in achieving U.S. foreign policy objectives. Chronic hunger can set off a cycle of instability, migration, and, in the worst case, war.
Science and technology have valuable contributions to make by increasing agricultural productivity; sustaining the natural resource base on which productivity depends; adapting crops to changing environmental conditions; furthering good nutrition through the development of better food crops; and improving food preservation, storage, and distribution. This science-based approach will not only enhance food security, it will also foster more sustainable management of natural resources.
With the global population forecast to increase at nearly 90 million people per year, there is no acceptable alternative to increasing productivity of agricultural and other land- and water-use systems. Scientific research is key to increasing yields of land-use systems; past gains stemming from area expansion, and even fertilizer use in some areas of Asia, can no longer be continued. The scientific intensification of agriculture must continue in favored areas, but research applications must also target more marginal areas, many of which are those most threatened by nonsustainable practices and environmental degradation. For example, better management of agricultural chemical use in developing countries can lead to higher yields and less crop loss while limiting the risks to the environment and the health of farm workers. Integrated pest management, conservation tillage, and integrated nutrient management when adapted to resource conditions through research are likely to offer useful technological alternatives.
As a starting point, the United States recognizes the need for a comprehensive program to acquire, document, and conserve genetic resources of economic plants and animals. Germplasm conservation is integral to sustainable agricultural productivity. To this end, the United States conducts a domestic agro-biodiversity conservation program and provides support to important multilateral initiatives.
In some areas, where crop production activities may remain marginally economic, food security will be enhanced through the development and application of science-based, resource-efficient production of livestock, fuel, fiber, or forest products. In this light, enhanced research emphasis is being placed on developing agro-forestry and other systems that provide livelihoods to rural families while protecting the natural resource base. Moreover, postharvest processing, prevention of losses, and many other income-generating activities can contribute to food security. U.S. programs therefore also include research to reduce postharvest losses and to develop further applications of agro-industrial crops. U.S. assets are also engaged in remote-sensing endeavors that forewarn of impending famine.
The Administration is acting to ensure the sustainable management of U.S. forests by the year 2000. In addition, U.S. bilateral forest assistance programs are being expanded, and the United States is promoting sustainable management of temperate and tropical forests. The sustainable use of forests is essential to ensuring that these resources will continue to be available to fuel development through the future.
In the wake of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the United States has sought to reduce land-based sources of marine pollution, to maintain populations of marine species at healthy and productive levels, and to protect endangered marine mammals.
Postconflict Landmine Clearance
Landmine clearance is an important step toward resumption of economic activity and stabilization following war or civil conflict, and thereby a means of reducing the likelihood of future conflict. Frequently, it is also a prerequisite for the repatriation of refugees. Thus, it is genuinely a development issue.
Humanitarian mine clearance is not the same as clearing mines for military purposes-technologies for breaching are often not appropriate for clearing large settlement areas. However, technological solutions can be improved through communication and cooperation between applicable military technologies and humanitarian mine clearance communities. In the long run, clearance capacity must be built through development of indigenous capabilities that are sensitive to local priorities, policies, socioeconomic factors, and that can continue for the long time required.
The Administration has identified a number of priorities in this area:
The effectiveness of current capabilities for humanitarian mine clearance needs to be improved dramatically. The U.N. has set a goal of improving it on the order of 50 times the current rate. (According to the UN, only 84,000 mines were cleared in 1993, as compared with 2-3 million new mines laid.) The current costs of approximately $300 per mine cleared must also be cut dramatically.
Improved technology is needed for locating and discriminating mines (especially from nonmine metal fragments).
The humanitarian community must develop more specific, systematic technical requirements for the technology it needs-both for incremental improvements to existing technologies and for R&D priorities in hopes of making significant improvements in the future.
Greater national and international cooperation and coordination of efforts are also needed, including increased public awareness and support, much improved cooperation among military, humanitarian, and economic development agencies in donor and recipient countries, and improved organization and sharing of information.
Mine clearance is a subset of the broader issue of the clearance of unexploded ordnance (UXO), which presents a greater technological problem in detection, characterization, and removal. Whereas landmines are located near the surface, UXO may be buried down to 30 feet. UXO may also have much greater explosive charges. Investment in UXO clearance technology is needed both for the U.S. armed forces and for international economic development.
The Administration also places high priority on protecting the ocean and coastal environment and conserving living marine resources, reflecting the important national security, environmental, and economic interests at stake regarding ocean resources. The United States has five principal objectives in this area: (1) becoming a party to the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, as modified in 1994; (2) ensuring sustainable management of ocean fisheries; (3) supporting integrated coastal resource management and reducing marine and coastal pollution; (4) promoting the conservation of marine biodiversity, including whales and other protected species; and (5) conducting scientific research and ocean monitoring both to support these objectives and to more fully understand oceanic and atmospheric processes of global importance.
An understanding of the changing ocean and coastal environment is essential in order to manage ocean resources in a sustainable manner. This Administration places a priority on ocean monitoring and supports appropriate research on fisheries and marine biodiversity, as well as on the marine physical system and ocean-atmosphere relationships important to understanding climate change. The United States will continue to cooperate with other countries and international bodies in support of the Global Ocean Observing System. We will continue to vigorously promote the consistent and equitable implementation by nations of the provisions of the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention on marine scientific research to ensure maximum access to oceanographic data vital to managing ocean resources, as well as for understanding global change. And we will continue to push for international acceptance of the principle of full and open access to oceanographic and meteorological data. This increased emphasis on oceanographic research and monitoring will directly benefit global maritime operations-both civil and military.
To be sustainable, a society must be resilient to natural hazards. Natural hazards, ranging from earthquakes to pestilence, are inevitable. By contrast, natural disasters-defined as long-lasting disruption of entire communities exceeding the communities' ability to recover unaided-are as much a product of societal behavior and practice as of nature. Natural disasters can and should be mitigated.
The United States is a world leader in developing and implementing technologies for both monitoring natural hazards and mitigating natural disasters. The United States is in the final stages of major improvements in weather forecasting and is working to improve the dissemination of this information. In keeping with its strategy of prevention, the United States provides technical assistance and equipment to other countries to help them predict and assess changes in the natural environment and minimize the loss of lives and property due to natural disasters.
Multilaterally, the United States is participating in a U.N. initiative intended to ensure that by the year 2000 all countries will have incorporated into their plans for achieving sustainable development comprehensive national assessments of risks posed by natural hazards and mitigation plans for these risks at the national and local levels. Countries will also have incorporated into their plans ready access to global, regional, national, and local warning systems.
The preceding discussion makes clear the central role that the dissemination of knowledge and expertise plays in any sustainable development strategy. An effective way to promote sustainable practices globally is through partnerships in teaching and research among developed and developing countries. A global community of scholars, united by a shared understanding of scientific methodology and responsibility, and linked via modern telecommunication networks, will be a positive force for promoting stability, democracy, and economic development. This is one reason why the Clinton Administration has made the development of national and global information infrastructures national priorities.
To promote scientific knowledge abroad, the United States enters into cooperative science and technology agreements with countries around the world. These agreements provide the protocols for cooperative research by government-sponsored scientists and engineers. The United States maintains these agreements, and the intellectual property rights protection contained within them, both for geopolitical reasons and because U.S. scientific and technological leadership can be strengthened through international cooperation. Some of today's most difficult challenges cannot be solved by the United States (or any country) acting alone. During a time of severe budgetary constraints, some projects are too costly for any one nation. Sometimes the work must be done in situ; for example, assessing and preserving biodiversity or monitoring disease outbreaks. Other issues naturally invite collaboration because of unique foreign expertise or facilities. Cooperation builds bridges among nations, sometimes even when no other avenues are available.
The Administration fosters international collaborative research by universities, government, and private sector laboratories with counterparts in developing countries and will also build on the opportunities in existing multilateral efforts. Of particular note are the international agricultural research centers sponsored by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). These centers, which are funded largely by the United States and other OECD donors, link closely to research institutions here and in other developed countries. They represent a key means of developing and delivering food-security enhancing, public-goods technologies to developing countries. With a large contingent of U.S. and U.S.-trained scientists, they represent an excellent means of linking to domestic research.
There are an estimated 1 billion illiterate people in the world. High levels of illiteracy undermine sustainable development goals. Clearly, scientific and technical literacy is required as well. Technology transfer and the development of locally appropriate solutions cannot take place if countries with nearly 80 percent of the world's population (and over 90 percent of population growth) continue to have only 6 percent of the world's scientists. Training students from the less developed sectors of the world who then do not return to their own countries, or organizing training without adequate concern for promoting infrastructure for them at home, will serve to undermine the role of the U.S. education sector as a tool for global sustainable development.
On Earth Day 1994, Vice President Gore announced the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program. GLOBE is an international environmental education and science effort designed to enable students, educators, and scientists to work together to monitor the global environment and provide information for developing a worldwide environmental database. The GLOBE program, with participating schools around the world, will allow students to perform environmental measurements that will greatly augment Earth observations from existing satellite and ground-based systems. Scientists and educators are working together to design experiments that will provide hands-on science and mathematical experience for elementary through high school students and generate useful environmental data for scientists.
The Global Information Infrastructure
The Global Information Infrastructure (GII) has an important role to play in sustainable development. The GII fosters dialogue between nations and ethnic groups and enables applications such as collaborative scientific research, distance learning, telemedicine, and electronic commerce. Electronic networking is transforming communications and the conduct of research around the world. While this transformation is fastest in the industrialized world, it is taking place in the developing world as well.
Facilitating services and research. HealthNet in Africa links physicians, researchers, medical educators, and other health care workers to their colleagues abroad. ARCCNET (African Regional Centre for Computing Network) serves as a platform for computer training and research, facilitating cooperation and improved linkages between the computer industry, academia, and policymaking institutions.
Improving management of natural resources. The United States Geological Survey is providing computer hardware, software, and technical support to establish Geographic Information System (GIS) facilities at different sites in the world through cooperative programs. These facilities compile, digitize, analyze, and distribute geologic, environmental, and related information to support programs in energy and mineral resources, sustainable economic development, and environmental protection.
Strengthening healthcare. By linking hospitals around the world to the United States on the Internet, the United States Centers for Disease Control share information on, and create databases for, communicable diseases.
Promoting scientific advances. In conjunction with the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), the United States Information Agency intends to bring Newly Independent States (NIS) scholars and members of nongovernmental organizations and related professional and governmental groups in contact with one another and link them into international databanks via computer communications. For example, a group of 60 Russian educators visiting the United States in 1995 will be linked to their American colleagues and one another through an IREX electronic mail network upon their return to Russia.
The goal of the Administration-s GII initiative is to foster the communication and cooperation that will be needed to spur the transformation of a thousand discrete networks in the developed and developing worlds into a connected, interoperable global information infrastructure.
Not only knowledge but also appropriate technology must be promoted if we are to foster global sustainability. The Clinton Administration has crafted a forward-looking environmental technology strategy that should allow us to move expeditiously toward sustainable development. The result of working with thousands of stakeholders over two years to identify a core set of five themes to guide future activities, this national strategy is presented in the Administration document, Bridge to a Sustainable Future. The five themes are designed to establish a framework for partnerships, goal setting, policy development, and action. Within each theme, a series of findings, goals, and initiatives have been identified that together articulate a technological path leading toward sustainable development. The agencies of the Federal Government are developing specific action plans for implementing this strategy, but industry, labor, communities, nongovernmental organizations, individuals, state governments, and nations around the world all have important responsibilities as well. The key to progress is to build on the strengths of each sector in order to achieve goals collectively that cannot be achieved individually.
Broadly, the five themes of the strategy comprise: (1) the development of a new generation of incentive-based policies and programs that stress performance, flexibility, and accountability; (2) shifting from reacting to environmental damage to anticipating and avoiding it; (3) supporting investment in and the diffusion of successful technologies; (4) moving rural and urban communities toward sustainability; and (5) building more effective, open, and productive collaboration among stakeholders. Specific goals of the national environmental technology strategy include improving substantially the nation's environmental monitoring data and information systems over the next five years through public-private partnerships designed to share information essential for sustainable development, and promoting the use of environmentally sound and socially appropriate technologies in developing nations throughout the world.
A strategy of sustainable development and preventive diplomacy also requires a robust response to global threats such as emerging or reemerging infectious diseases, climate change, and biodiversity loss. Whereas natural disasters threaten sustainable development in a particular nation or region in a catastrophic manner, these other threats are potentially global in scope but may have onsets that take years or decades to become apparent or build these global threats.
Modern transportation, international trade, and population shifts all contribute to the spread of diseases in developed and developing countries. As a result, infectious diseases that originate in distant parts of the world represent a potential health risk to U.S. citizens. Early detection and vigorous intervention efforts are essential to containing new and reemerging diseases before they spread. In the United States and in other industrialized nations, however, the majority of health care funds pay for treatment of those who are already ill. The key to dealing effectively with new or re-emerging infectious diseases is global surveillance and response, and basic biomedical research.
Infectious diseases can prevent U.S. troops operating abroad from being an effective fighting force. Techniques to prevent, detect, and control these diseases are important to keeping our troops healthy.
A well-designed surveillance program can detect and track unusual clusters of illness and establish their geographic and demographic characteristics. Effective surveillance and prevention strategies must be based on an understanding of the complex interactions between humans and microbes as well as an understanding of the evolutionary and genetic factors that cause epidemics.
The Administration is putting into place a national response to the threat of infectious diseases. While continuing to support research and training in basic and applied research to support U.S. leadership in disease surveillance, the United States will strengthen its ability to respond to epidemics by increasing U.S. "surge" capacity for the emergency production of diagnostic tests, drugs, and vaccines. Internationally, the United States will work with multilateral organizations and other countries to improve worldwide disease surveillance, reporting, and response, encouraging other countries to make infectious disease detection and control national priorities. U.S. Government laboratories and field stations abroad will be coordinated to form regional hubs in a global disease surveillance system. Our ultimate goal is to foster the creation of a worldwide disease surveillance and response network.
In 1992 the United States joined the international community in signing the Framework Convention on Climate Change. It was a treaty that called on all nations to work together to protect the global environment. Specifically, the industrialized countries were urged to take the lead by stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. Soon after taking office, the Administration went beyond the nonbinding language of the treaty to declare that the United States would meet this goal.
The Administration has developed a plan aimed at fulfilling this commitment. The government has signed voluntary agreements with the bulk of the U.S. utility industry to keep greenhouse gas emissions down. Similar partnerships have been forged with U.S. industry on energy-efficient computers, buildings, and lighting systems. The Administration has launched a partnership for a new generation of vehicles-the Clean Car Initiative. And the United States has pledged $430 million to the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) for its second phase, the largest contribution of any nation in the world.
The Importance of Surveillance Systems
The outbreaks of Ebola in Zaire and plague in India have emphasized the importance of national and international surveillance and response capabilities to infectious diseases. Our past experience has demonstrated that allowing surveillance capabilities to dwindle may have serious consequences. Prevention or early intervention is both more humane and less expensive than mounting a late, emergency response.
For example, for many years the United States had in place a surveillance system to monitor cases of tuberculosis (TB). However, during the 1980s Federal and local spending on infectious disease control declined, and in 1986 the surveillance system for multi-drug-resistant TB was discontinued. Consequently, there was no warning signal when drug-resistant TB emerged in the late 1980s. This lack of early warning undoubtedly contributed to the more than $700 million in direct costs for TB treatment incurred in 1991 alone. Surveillance of drug-resistant TB was not reinstated until 1993, by which time multi-drug-resistant TB had become a public health crisis and millions of Federal dollars had been allocated.
AIDS is a new disease that was unknown before the 1980s and thus was not on any surveillance lists. AIDS weakens the immune system, allowing other infections to take hold. Therefore, it can be difficult to diagnose, since its clinical presentation may involve a variety of symptoms, and its incubation period (the time between infection and the appearance of symptoms) is several years. Nevertheless, long before AIDS was diagnosed in the United States and Europe, a distinct syndrome called Slim Disease (now known to be a form of AIDS) that causes its victims to waste away was recognized by African doctors. In fact, an aggressive, Slim-associated, generalized form of Kaposi's sarcoma, distinct from the classical form, has been described in Uganda since at least 1962. If a global surveillance system with the capacity to identify new diseases had been in place in the 1970s, AIDS might have been identified earlier, perhaps before it became well established in the United States. Epidemiologists might have gained a headstart in learning how AIDS is transmitted and prevented, and many lives might have been saved.
But in addition to these action-oriented steps, the Administration also recognizes that our understanding of climate change and other environmental issues rests on fundamental research, the data for which must come from comprehensive observations. The Administration has therefore identified environmental observations and data management as an area to receive enhanced emphasis.
Extensive Earth observation and monitoring are a critical component of environmental and natural resource research aimed at advancing scientific understanding and developing predictive capabilities. The coordination of observation and data management efforts ensures that the data necessary to answer the questions of highest priority to both scientists and policymakers are being gathered and distributed and that U.S. efforts are taking full advantage of, and being sufficiently coordinated with, international efforts.
The Administration has identified four areas for enhanced emphasis: (1) linking local-scale data collection efforts to regional- and global-scale efforts; (2) linking remote sensing data from satellites to in situ measurements; (3) linking socioeconomic data to data on the natural environment; and (4) making Federal agency environmental data and information available in forms useful to the public, educators, policymakers at all levels, business activities, and researchers.
Although the United States and many other nations are collecting critical environmental and natural resource data, successfully understanding many aspects of environmental science will require the implementation of an international policy of open and stable exchange of data and information. The United States promotes the continuance and extension of the full and open exchange of all environmental data and related information at no more than the marginal cost of fulfilling specific user requests. Finally, the Administration is acting to put hard-won and expensive data collected during the Cold War to the service of environmental understanding. Following a Presidential Executive Order, some 800,000 spy satellite photographs taken between 1960 and 1972 are to be released. Selectively declassifying information gathered during the Cold War will allow these images to shed new light on the progression of deforestation, the loss of fresh water, desertification, and other issues.
In June 1993, the United States signed the Convention on Biological Diversity, which aims to protect and utilize the world's genetic inheritance. The Interior Department has been directed to create a national biological survey to help protect species and to help the agricultural and biotechnology industries identify new sources of food, fiber, and medications.
The Administration has set a goal of developing the understanding of ecological systems necessary for assessing the ecological consequences of environmental change. This goal will promote the efficient use of natural resources, while sustaining ecosystem integrity for future generations by developing science-based management principles and a predictive understanding of the ecological impacts of environmental change.
It is imperative that we understand and quantify the drivers of change in ecological systems. Understanding the importance of the influence and magnitude of different drivers of change is critical to developing strategies for sustainable development. To this end, the Administration has identified six areas for enhanced emphasis in ecosystem research: (1) documenting change in ecological systems; (2) understanding processes in ecological systems; (3) synthesizing and assessing ecological data and information; (4) predicting ecological change; (5) understanding the interactions of human and ecological systems; (6) and the restoration, rehabilitation, and management of ecological systems.
An example of the Administration's increased emphasis on ecosystem research, and its importance for preserving biodiversity, is provided by the Coral Reef Initiative. The declining health of coral reef ecosystems links the larger issues of climate change and increased stress from human population growth. Some scientists estimate that 10 percent of reefs have already been degraded beyond recovery, and that 10 to 20 percent more could be gone by the year 2010. Not only does this mean the loss of a large fraction of the ocean's most biodiverse ecosystems, but also this decline is bad for tourism and fisheries, and hence for development. To address this degradation, the U.S. Government is forming partnerships with states and territories, other nations, multilateral development banks, and nongovernmental organizations. The Initiative's goal is to enable countries to use existing resources to sustainably manage coral reef ecosystems over the long term.
The social and economic sciences represent a critical component of any research agenda on environmental change. Research in the social and economic sciences aims to clarify how human activities affect the environment; how environmental changes affect our society and its component groups; and how we and our institutions respond to environmental change.
Long-term research is needed on human-environmental interactions and system dynamics. Their complexity requires greater collaboration of physical, life, and engineering scientists with social scientists than usually prevails. The Administration has identified three research areas for enhanced emphasis: (1) fundamental human and social processes that affect our use of the Earth; (2) the development of a better portfolio of policy instruments and decision tools; and (3) improving the flow of information between the research and policy communities and within the public and private sectors.
Science policy tools for decisionmaking provide the links between the physical, natural, social, and economic sciences and environmental policy. Technical assessments are key tools in formulating national and international environmental policies. To be useful, however, these assessments must be credible to all stakeholders, including the Administration, Congress, industry, nongovernmental organizations, and the public.
The Administration's goal is to use assessment methods to characterize, prevent, and reduce health and environmental hazards in the most effective, efficient, and fair manner. The Administration is committed to strengthening the methods used to perform risk and integrated assessments of health and environmental hazards.
As a world leader in science and technology, the United States has an opportunity to apply its science and technology capabilities to support international initiatives that benefit the United States and the global community. To realize this potential, the Office of Science and Technology Policy is developing strategies for cooperation with other nations-"country strategies"-placing a priority on those that are key to the stability of their region, have the scientific and technological base to attract long-term investments and trade, and offer emerging markets for U.S. goods and services. By strengthening the progress of science and technology and the communities of researchers and scholars, international cooperation can contribute to positive political and economic reform, regional stability, sustainable development, and economic growth.