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August 11, 2010

International Forum on World's Great Deltas
To Convene in New Orleans

DELTAS2010 will focus on Mississippi River as model for addressing coastal crises.

DENVER-- The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) will participate in the inaugural meeting of DELTAS2010: World Delta Dialogues. This meeting is an international forum bringing together restoration leaders and scientists from across the globe, to be held in New Orleans Oct. 17-21, 2010.

Participants in the invitational conference will focus on developing best practices and comprehensive strategies for creating sustainable deltas, using the imperiled Mississippi River Delta as a model.

“The Mississippi River Delta is the seventh largest delta on earth,” said Valsin A. Marmillion, managing director of the America’s WETLAND Foundation. “As we are all aware, it is an incredibly endangered area experiencing one of the planet’s greatest land lost rates requiring urgent and large-scale measures to save it.”

The conference timing is most relevant to discuss strategies for community resiliency in the midst of the chaos and confusion of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, where media focus on the loss of vital wetlands has demonstrated the vulnerability of the region and its residents to natural and manmade events.

Louisiana State Sen. Joel Chaisson, D-Destrehan, was joined by William T. Pound, executive director of NCSL, in announcing that, as part of the conference, they will convene delegations of legislative leaders from the four states of America’s Energy Coast – Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

“The issues of federalism and the ability of an individual state to exercise its right to protect its people are intertwined with the disasters that have plagued the Gulf Coast,” Pound said. “It is central to ask the question of how a state creates the political will to solve a problem that affects the nation," continued Pound. “I am particularly grateful for the leadership the Louisiana Legislature has shown in standing its ground in the face of what is sometimes a federal onslaught of conflicting policies and regulations that make coastal restoration so difficult.”

Senator Chaisson said, “Being able to sit together and discuss the impacts coastal deterioration has on our region and ways for states to maintain their authority in the face of federal policy is key to our future as a viable coast for both environmental and economic reasons. Louisiana has taken a lead by putting federal dollars in a trust fund for restoration, by establishing a comprehensive plan for coastal restoration and protection and putting up monies to begin the restoration process. We know that we have no time to waste.” 

The America’s WETLAND Foundation (AWF), the Royal Netherlands Embassy, The Nature Conservancy, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and National Conference of State Legislatures are partners in mounting this first-of-a-kind multidisciplinary event.

DELTAS2010 will draw from “the best and the brightest” working in the Mississippi River Delta and from other major deltas in crisis, including the Rhine in Germany, the Ganges in India, the Yangtze and Yellow in China, and the Mekong in Vietnam. Delegations from the Netherlands and Europe will also join in the sessions, uniquely designed to engage a multi-disciplinary approach. Conference coordinators determined this approach key to complex research, design, planning and policy development required to save a system that often crosses state and national jurisdictions. Participants will include government officials, foundations, NGOs, policymakers, business and industry executives and scientists.

NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.

DELTAS2010: World Delta Dialogues is an initiative of the America's WETLAND Foundation and is made possible by the generous support of the following: The Royal Netherlands Embassy, The Nature Conservancy, The Greater New Orleans Foundation, Shell, Chevron and Entergy.

The America’s WETLAND Foundation manages the largest, most comprehensive public education campaign in the Louisiana’s history. The Campaign is raising public awareness of the impact of Louisiana’s wetland loss on the state, nation and world. The initiative is supported by a growing coalition of world, national and state conservation and environmental organizations and has drawn private support from businesses that see wetlands protection as a key to economic growth.