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U.S. Department of the Interior - International Affairs
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Office of International Affairs Policy Division




In This Section:

The Department of the Interior (DOI) engages in a wide variety of international activities to advance the Department's mission, United States interests, and international cooperation.The Policy Division of the Office of International Affairs (OIA) provides central expertise, services, coordination, and review for international matters in support of the on-the-ground work carried out through DOI bureaus and offices. Key activities of the OIA Policy Division include:

Coordinating international issues and activities involving multiple bureaus. A number of international issues affect more than one bureau, or require expertise found in more than one bureau. The Policy Division coordinates work on these issues, working with bureau international offices and other bureau experts where appropriate. It develops and implements consistent policy guidance and procedures across DOI as needed

Supporting senior DOI management on high priority international issues. Some international matters require senior Departmental engagement, sometimes up to and including the Secretary of the Interior. The Policy Division works with the bureau or bureaus in question to help policymakers in Washington stay aware of what is happening in the field, support interactions with other federal agencies and relevant foreign governments, and organize a consistent Departmental approach where needed.

Representing DOI in interagency and international policy making forums. The Policy Division represents and serves as a contact for DOI in interagency policy deliberations on topics important for the Department and the U.S., including cooperation with Mexico, with Canada, and in the Arctic. At the request of the White House, the State Department, or other federal agencies, the Division coordinates DOI advice and representation on foreign policy decisions, international trade negotiations, and international initiatives relating to DOI responsibilities and areas of expertise. Upon request, Division staff serve on US delegations to international negotiations involving DOI priorities.

Organizing and hosting visits from foreign government officials. Because of their experience and expertise, DOI leadership and technical experts are in frequent demand for meetings with foreign officials. The Policy Division facilitates meetings between DOI leaders and experts, and foreign dignitaries and visitors, whether initiated at the request of the White House, the Department of State, the Secretary of the Interior, other US government agencies, or the foreign governments themselves. These meetings may require special considerations of protocol and policy. In 2011 and 2012, the Division supported high-level meetings at the level of Ambassador, Minister or Vice-Minister with Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, and Norway, among others.

Providing Information and Outreach. The Policy Division supports DOI international programs by educating and informing relevant audiences – including other agencies, foreign governments, DOI's own employees, and the public – about DOI international programs. Division staff are regularly asked to brief US Foreign Service officers at the Foreign Service Institute. In 2012, the Division and the DOI Museum launched a public brown bag lecture series on DOI international programs for employees and the public.

This work is carried out under the leadership of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs, who reports to the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget (AS-PMB). The AS-PMB is the senior DOI official who is delegated the responsibility from the Secretary to coordinate DOI's international activities.

Examples of Recent Activities

Arctic. As the Arctic's temperature rises and the polar icecap recedes, the region is facing conservation, resource development, and geopolitical challenges that require unprecedented international responses.DOI is uniquely positioned to play a leading role in this quickly changing part of the world.DOI manages the majority of all U.S. Arctic land, as well as millions of acres of the Alaska outer continental shelf.DOI regularly cooperates and exchanges information with the other seven Arctic countries on science, conservation and management of wildlife and ecosystems, management of energy development, and traditional use of resources for subsistence purposes.

The OIA Policy Division plays an important role in coordinating and directing the efforts of the seven DOI technical bureausrelevant to US interests in the Arctic (BIA, BLM, BOEM, BSEE, FWS, NPS and USGS). By coordinating DOI support for US involvement in the eight-nation Arctic Council, the Policy Division has helped senior leadership focus attention on emergingscientific and natural resource challenges in the Arctic, and serves as a leading partner to the Department of State as it sets U.S. policy in the region.

Mexico. DOI manages a large proportion of U.S. lands along the border with Mexico, has important responsibilities for monitoring and management of the Colorado River and Rio Grande, and is responsible for conservation of numerous migratory bird species that live in both the U.S. and Mexico. One example of cooperation with Mexico involves the Big Bend/Río Bravo Region along our shared border in Southwest Texas, which includes Big Bend National Park and comprises one of the largest and most significant ecological complexes in North America. To enable visitors to the Park, as well as scientific and technical personnel from both countries, to travel more efficiently across the border in this remote area, the OIA Policy Division worked with DOI management, Park authorities, and other agencies in both the U.S. and Mexican governments, to open a Port of Entry (POE) at Boquillas on April 10, 2013. The POE will help natural resource managers from both countries work together to restore the natural ecosystem, control invasive species, conserve wildlife, study the impacts of climate change, and respond as needed to wildfires in this "natural area of binational interest."