NEW YORK, JANUARY 21, 2011 – The following statement was released today by the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Executive Vice President for Public Affairs, John Calvelli:                        

Efforts by lawmakers to eliminate the U.S. Agency for International Development could have disastrous consequences for the effective implementation of our nation’s foreign policy goals.

Since its creation, USAID and its programs have immeasurably improved our ability to address the threats we face around the globe: by protecting our national security; by supporting and sustaining diplomacy; and by addressing poverty, hunger and urgent public health needs.

From Afghanistan to Somalia to Darfur, control of natural resources drives many of the world’s conflicts today. Funds provided by USAID to help nations better manage those resources creates necessary stability. Their absence provides opportunities for illegal activities like the drug trade and the growth of terror networks, which operate easily in unmanaged wilderness areas.

Support from USAID has enabled global health experts to quickly respond to avian flu and other contagions threatening humans. It has helped Southern Sudan to manage the tremendous natural assets essential to its economic future.  In so many ways, USAID has been at the forefront of protecting United States interests abroad.

Removing this pillar of diplomacy harms all Americans.

Contact:    Mary Dixon (1-347-840-1242;

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide.  We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo.  Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony.  WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.