International delegates come to coast - - The News for South Mississippi

International delegates come to coast


By Krystal Allan – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Monday, the coast welcomed a team of international delegates looking to learn more about the impact of the oil crisis on the coast. The visitors work with non-governmental organizations out of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. 

During a stop at Biloxi's Small Craft Harbor, the delegation got a chance to see firsthand the oil disaster's impact on Mississippi's coastal community.

"We hope to learn from the situation here.  We know this is a very big environmental issue in the U.S.," said international delegate Prem Rudee.

Before heading to the harbor, the group went to the Church of the Redeemer's Demiller Hall in Biloxi. They met and talked with environmental justice organizations and groups performing community outreach on the oil spill.

The International Visitors Center of Jackson partnered with the Steps Coalition to host the delegates. In their countries, the delegates already work to protect and maintain natural resources and watersheds.

"They have issues in their own country.  Many of them come from around the Mekong River.  It's called the Mekong River initiative, and it is about our clean water supply globally," said Sara Williams with the International Visitors Center of Jackson.

Though they're not battling the same environmental crisis as Gulf Coast communities, the delegates believe it's better to be prepared than caught off guard.

"Of course, we don't want to face the same thing in our country.  But, we also would like to know how to react to these issues," Rudee said.  

Organizers say issues affecting our coastal communities can have far-reaching impacts on natural resources globally.  That's why they say outreach on an international level, in the end, benefits everyone.

"We're just applying diplomacy one hand shake at a time," Williams said.

The group came to the coast by way of the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C.

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