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Green Diplomacy One Step Further


The U.S Embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan took green diplomacy to heart.

On Earth Day 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched her Greening Diplomacy Initiative, which calls on all U.S. State Department employees, including overseas staff, to help shrink the Department’s carbon footprint and model American environmental stewardship overseas.

"We know that the business we conduct, this business of diplomacy and development, has an impact environmentally, financially, and publicly. And leadership is more than just giving speeches. It truly is serving as an example and setting us forth a series of steps that we can travel together."

The U.S Embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan took that speech to heart. Not only are Embassy officials actively recycling materials, sponsoring clean-up campaigns and adopting measures that will improve the energy efficiency of their facilities; in cooperation with Tajik government agencies and international partners, they are working on a series of projects that demonstrate the widespread potential of alternative energy and other green technologies throughout Central Asia.

As U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan, Ken Gross stated at the 2009 Renewable Energy Conference in Dushanbe, "Tajikistan and other Central Asian countries are endowed with great potential in areas that include solar, wind power, bio-gas and wider use of small hydropower stations."

So, for example, members of the U.S. Embassy's Office of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement are helping their colleagues in the Tajikistan Border Guard Service rehabilitate their dilapidated, Soviet-era outposts, each of which houses some 50 people. The first new buildings, constructed of energy efficient plastic foam sheets sandwiched between panels and powered by solar heat were dedicated in July.

Today, solar panels installed at rural clinics and border outposts across Tajikistan provide sustainable energy for facilities that previously had no power during winter; solar pumps bring clean drinking water to schools, hospitals and private homes; and solar panels help charge batteries for new radio equipment provided to the border guards.

"What we are trying to do," said Secretary of State Clinton, "is to bring the message home to individuals, to embassies, to the State Department, and across the world that our goal is to make climate change, the greening of the world, a responsibility that starts with each and every one of us."