SECNAV Reinforces DoD Commitment to Island Nations

US Navy

WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Carlos Del Toro recently participated in two events focused on furthering the United States’ relationships with island networks and island nations around the world.

On Sept. 21, Del Toro traveled to New York for the second members meeting of the Local2030 Islands Network. The Local2030 Islands Network brings together a diverse set of island nations, states/provinces, communities and cultures from all regions of the world dedicated to addressing the climate crisis through locally-driven peer-to-peer solutions.

During a roundtable discussion focused on net-zero and climate resiliency efforts, Del Toro reiterated the Department of the Navy’s commitment to combatting climate change as outlined in the Department’s “Climate Action 2030“. Attendees included several foreign heads of state, foreign ministers, and U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.

In his remarks, Del Toro noted that the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps efforts, while critically important, are just one component of the U.S. Department of Defense’s larger “Climate Adaptation Plan” to address what Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has recognized as an “existential threat.”

“The U.S. Navy-Marine Corps team takes its responsibility to build resilience against climate change seriously,” said Secretary Del Toro at the event. “The Department of Defense, and indeed the entire U.S. government, have made a commitment to island nations to combat climate change, and the Department of the Navy is already working with island nations on their climate defenses.”

Separately, as a part of President Biden’s first ever U.S.-Pacific Island Country (U.S.-PICs) Summit last week, Secretary Del Toro participated in a reception with PIC leaders to discuss maritime issues affecting economic prosperity and regional resilience such as maritime domain awareness (MDA), maritime security, and law enforcement cooperation, including combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Del Toro, who has learned about some of these issues first-hand during official visits to Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and the Philippines discussed the Navy’s maritime information sharing tools that support counter IUU fishing and MDA initiatives.

The U.S. Navy has a long list of projects with island nations, including the United States Naval Construction Battalion (SEABEES) work addressing drought on the Marshall Islands and rebuilding shorelines and wetlands on islands across the Blue Pacific. The U.S. Navy-Marine Corps team also conducts the annual Pacific Partnership mission, working with local governments to strengthen environmental infrastructure and resilience and joint training exercises to better responses to climate-induced disasters.

Secretary Del Toro’s participation in the events advance two Department of Defense initiatives: fostering closer partnerships with island nations around the world and mitigating the threat posed by a warming climate.

“No matter where I am, two reoccurring themes that inevitably come up during my conversations with foreign dignitaries are the impacts of climate change and the importance of maritime domain awareness,” Del Toro said. “While these topics may not necessarily be connected, they are critically important – not just for island nations or networks, but for everyone. Events like the Local2030 Network and U.S.-PIC Summit, where we are sharing better practices, strategies, and lessons learned, further one of the Department of the Navy’s enduring priorities – strengthening our relationships with Allies and partners.”

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