With climate change awareness growing both in the host countries of U.S. Embassies and among embassy staff, the U.S. State Department is finding that environmental initiatives are a basis for diplomacy. In light of a new mandate from President Obama to cut federal greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent over the next decade, U.S. Embassies worldwide have taken action to help meet that goal.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton launched her Greening Diplomacy Initiative on Earth Day 2009, calling on all employees to help shrink the Department of State’s carbon footprint. Greening Diplomacy initiatives are not only beneficial for U.S. Embassies. They are also providing a great way to reach out and work with local communities and businesses. In Amman, Jordan, for example, there are no municipal recycling programs. But the U.S. Embassy there learned of a small start-up company called Entity Green that believed there was a market for recycling in the Middle Eastern desert nation. The U.S. Embassy became one of its first customers in 2009. This helped the new business get off the ground and attract new customers, including large hotel chains.
The U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China, decided to revise its immigrant visa application and mail distribution processes to save trees, ink, printer electricity and money.
Staff at the embassy in Accra, Ghana, found a paper products company 30 kilometers from the embassy that produces toilet paper from old office paper. That company has agreed to pick up paper at the embassy once a week and provide the post with some free toilet paper.
These and other environmental initiatives are serving an important role in increasing awareness of embassy staff on the community development and conservation opportunities available through green diplomacy.
This podcast is produced by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs.