The Foreign Service Journal - April 2014 - page 8

APRIL 2014
Who Knew?
Shawn Dorman is the editor of
The Foreign Service Journal.
nless you are living in North
Ikea, you probably know
about the media firestorm
around the issue of political
“pay-to-play” ambassadorial nominees
that began in February following the
testimony of the nominees to Hungary,
Norway and Argentina.
(And, by the way, if you haven’t heard
President Barack Obama. Love it or
hate it, it’s been viewed more than
20 million times and boosted traffic to the site by some 40 percent.)
Also weighing in on the ambassado-
rial nomination process and generating
serious media attention was AFSA, with
the release of its “Guidelines for Success-
ful Performance as a Chief of Mission”
on Feb. 25, an initiative launched last
summer. You’ll find our report on the
media coverage in Talking Points, and
the guidelines and related information in
AFSA News.
This month we focus on dynamic ini-
tiatives that are “greening” U.S. embassies
and consulates around the globe. Who
knew that the sustainability and green
buildings movement at the State Depart-
ment and overseas was so strong and
growing so quickly?
Who knew that there are “green
teams” at 150 U.S. embassies and con-
sulates? Who knew that U.S. Embassy
Helsinki’s Innovation Center is one of the
most energy-efficient embassy buildings
in the world?
We open with an overview of “eco-
diplomacy”—the practice in international
relations of facilitating and advancing a
shared commitment to conserving natu-
ral resources through sustainable opera-
tions and responsible environmental
stewardship—from Donna McIntire, the
Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations’
chief of energy and sustainable design.
In “Eco-Diplomacy: Building the
Foundation,” she explains how eco-diplo-
macy is built on environmental policy,
green buildings (the “platform”) and
operational results.
Bringing it all together, the Greening
Diplomacy Initiative, launched in 2009 by
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clin-
ton, empowers U.S. missions to imple-
ment greening operations at a local level.
In “The Greening Diplomacy Initiative:
Capturing Innovation” (p. 24), Caroline
D’Angelo of the GDI executive secretariat
describes how the department’s over-
arching sustainability effort harnesses the
energy (so to speak) and innovation flow-
ing from 150 green teams worldwide.
Green teams are not managed from
Washington; they are more organic and
unique at each post, working on sustain-
ability projects as varied as there are envi-
ronments and countries. Like embassy
country teams, green teams are chaired
by the ambassador and bring together
people from different parts of
the mission, some of whom
might not otherwise overlap in
their work. The teams identify
and implement sustainability
practices and projects.
Next we hear about “The
League of Green Embassies: American
Leadership in Sustainability” (p. 30) from
League coordinator John Molesky. This
coalition of more than 100 U.S. embassies
and consulates began at Embassy Stock-
holm in 2007 as an online best practices
sharing portal. Now based at Embassy
Helsinki, the League offers practical sug-
gestions for all missions to consider.
Finally, in “Finns Take the LEED in
Green Embassy Design” (p. 35), Emilia
Honkasaari of the Finnish Embassy in
Washington, D.C., describes the work
to create a pioneering green embassy.
It began in 1994 with a building whose
traditional Finnish architecture already
defined it as a progressive landmark.
Bob Silverman picks up the greening
theme in this month’s President’s Views
column. He shares his perspectives on
the “reasons to love the League of Green
Embassies” (p. 7) based on personal
experience serving at Embassy Stock-
holm when the League was established.
Inspired by these examples, we at
AFSA plan to pursue our own greening
initiative. Toward that end, in April AFSA
will name a greening coordinator from
the staff to help bring forward ideas for
the implementation of sustainability
practices at our headquarters.
We hope you enjoy this issue. And, as
always, please send letters to the
editor to let us know what you
think, and consider submitting
an article, a Speaking Out or
Reflection of your own.
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