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In my time as Secretary-General, I have seen too many leaders turn

a deaf ear to the voices and dreams of their people. It is as though

they rule with noise-cancelling headphones. Again and again, I have urged

leaders to listen carefully and sincerely to the aspirations of their people. But

listening is not just for leaders. It is just as important for average citizens to

turn to each other with open minds and open ears.

Yet I fear that people are increasingly reluctant to hear dissonant voices.

They are comfortable in their echo chambers. Too many communities rush

to point out an affront against them, but ignore the legitimate griev-

ances of others. We must close the “empathy gap” that is so prevalent

in our world today.

—United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, speaking at the Georgetown University

School of Foreign Service Commencement Ceremony on May 16.

Contemporary Quote

particularly for glass bottles; created a

program that recycles newspapers to

Burkina Faso’s prison population; planted

a community garden near the embassy;

and launched a bike-share program

through which 10 percent of employees

now bike to work each day.

The People’s Choice Award, voted on

by more than 21,000 employees, went to

Mission India, for its significant reduc-

tion of energy and water use in its many

facilities, both old and new. The mission

has several green teams and a resource

conservation unit, a team of engineers

who work full-time on identifying water

and energy savings.

The honorable mention for Excellence

in Unity Management, which is chosen

by State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings

Operations, went to Embassy Bangkok

for its reduction and more efficient use of

energy across 17 facilities and 85 percent

of its residences.

For more information on the Greening

Diplomacy Initiative, go to: pri/gdi/index.htm. You can also follow GDI on Facebook


Twitter @StateGDI

—Shannon Mizzi, Editorial Intern

Europe’s Mediterranean

Migrant Crisis


uring the four months between

January and April this year, 18 times

as many refugees perished in the Medi-

terranean Sea as during the same period

last year, according to estimates from the International Organization for Migration


Despite this, a record number of

crossings—which mainly include people

from the Middle East and Africa, looking

to escape war and oppression—are still

occurring. International aid groups, as

well as the European Union countries to

which the migrants are fleeing, are scram-

bling to respond.

The Office of the United Nations High

Commissioner for Refugees, headed by

António Guterres, recently announced a

Central Mediterranean Sea Initiative


The plan emphasizes collaboration

among countries of transit and first asy-

lum, and recommends mass information

programs along transit routes to inform

people of the risks of onward movement.

“We can’t deter people fleeing for

their lives. They will come. The choice we

have is how well we manage their arrival,