WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – What do flood prevention in Nepal, wildlife preservation in Namibia and reef fishing in Indonesia have to do with the U.S. budget?
Global conservation programs like these have all gotten help from the U.S. government, and they are probably prime targets of the budget-cutting congressional “super committee,” since they sit at the crossroads of two things Americans don’t like spending much money on: foreign aid and the environment.
As the 12 members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction work to whittle the budget by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years — if they fail to do so by Nov. 23, automatic spending cuts kick in — they may take aim at funds that pay for international conservation efforts.
That’s of deep concern to the nongovernmental organizations that run these programs and see them as relative bargains that can prevent vastly more expensive relief operations or security threats caused by thinning natural resources in unstable parts of the world.
“It’s important to consider what these investments are meant to support,” said Reid Detchon, the nongovernmental United Nations Foundation vice president for energy and climate. “It’s not all about birds and bunnies — it’s investments that have a real impact on saving lives.”
Most Americans don’t know much about how U.S. foreign aid dollars are spent, and don’t think highly of foreign aid in general, according to Karlyn Bowman, an expert on public opinion polling at the American Enterprise Institute.