DEP Participates in International Visitor Leadership Program

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection welcomed environmental delegates from nine countries as part of the U.S Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. The program brings current and potential leaders from all over the world to meet and confer with professional counterparts in the United States. The Department of Environmental Protection became involved through a partnership with Pensacola’s Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council which works with the Department of State to plan and organize the local portion of the program.

Northwest District Director Shawn Hamilton met with representatives from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru to discuss efforts to protect biodiversity through environmental policies, programs and conservation. During this meeting, Hamilton provided an overview of the structure of federal, state and local government in relation to Florida’s environmental laws and regulations. He talked about Florida’s environmental priorities, the State’s response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and the challenges of balancing preservation and conservation of resources with the needs of job creation.

“It’s an honor to be a part of such a great program and we appreciate the Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council including us,” said DEP Northwest District Director Shawn Hamilton. “Protecting our natural resources while supporting a viable economy is not an objective unique to Florida; globally we face the same challenges, and this dialogue with our world partners was a great opportunity to exchange ideas and share our successes.”

This meeting is just one example of how the Department is committed to ensuring that environmental protection is a global priority. In 2012, the Northwest District hosted a meeting with delegates from Kazakhstan examining waste management practices, met with delegates from the Bahamas to discuss environmental issues and hosted a shoreline planting event with diplomats from four African countries. Just recently, the Department’s Central District participated in an an environmental problem solving initiative with Australia.

Visit this photo gallery to see more pictures of the Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council’s trip.

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