THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
ministers picked up to hammer out the final Paris Agreement.
Remarkably, Sec. Kerry participated actively throughout
most of the final two-week Paris conference, huddling with the
U.S. negotiating team, prodding other ministers and interven-
ing from the floor at critical junctures during round-the-clock
negotiations over the final text. Such strong and sustained politi-
cal firepower from Pres. Obama and Sec. Kerry on down gave a
huge lift to rank-and-file negotiators, particularly during the final
stages of the UNFCCC’s relentless series of meetings heading
into and at Paris.
The Role of the Foreign Service
Historically, State’s career civil servants have been the core
of the U.S. government’s climate team supporting politically
appointed lead negotiators. Their expertise encompasses
multilateral negotiations as well as the many dimensions of
climate such as clean energy, forestry and land use, adaptation
and climate finance. Their creativity and skill in developing
and implementing climate assistance programs led directly to
fostering positive impact on the ground with developing coun-
tries, thereby building the goodwill and mutual understanding
nvironment, Science, Technology & Health (ESTH)
jobs offer great opportunities for our best FSOs to
shine. You need not be a scientist or a physician to
tackle these issues. You already have the requisite intel-
lectual and communications skills to be an FSO. Here
are some tips on how to be an effective ESTH officer, and
maybe also have some fun along the way.
Connect your ESTH work to broader U.S. govern-
ment and mission goals (e.g., security, prosperity and
Help your front office see the links between
ESTH issues and other priorities. You may also find syner-
gies where you least expect them (e.g., your Mil Group or
Narcotics Affairs Section might have assets that can help
in combating illegal wildlife traffickers, not just the usual
suspects). And pay attention to what top U.S. government
leaders are saying and doing. You can bet that host country
ministers and other counterparts do the same.
Get out and meet people in their own habitat.
out their priorities and what they think. Calling on coun-
terparts is about more than expanding your “contacts.”
It is about building relationships and trust. Go to their
place, and ask about their views and priorities. This helps
you learn about what is really going on and enables you to
provide better-informed reporting to Washington. Build-
ing trust quietly with counterparts puts deposits in the
“emotional bank account” that you may later need to draw
on when the chips are down.
Look for ways that U.S. interests might intersect
with those of your counterparts.
ine attentiveness to their concerns, not just those of the
United States, can open up possibilities for closer coopera-
tion and win/win outcomes.
Yes, budgets are tight. But you
can still exploit opportunities to harness and showcase
American know-how. For example, pay attention to country
clearance requests. You may discover an impending visit
of a U.S. expert or a routine port call by American research
vessels that could open up greater opportunities for official
engagements or public outreach.
Make friends with your Public Affairs Section.
issues often offer a bright spot in what might otherwise be
difficult bilateral relations. Turn those pro forma scientific
exchanges, document signings, ribbon-cuttings and the like
into opportunities to drive ESTH-oriented public diplomacy
If you’re in a separate ESTH unit, be sure to form
a tight team with your Econ, FCS and FAS colleagues.
You’ll likely find common interests—e.g., promoting the
export of U.S. goods and services in clean technology or
U.S. know-how in sustainable agriculture.
Rely on and support your Locally Employed staff.
They can be your secret weapon in advancing U.S. interests
and avoiding pitfalls. Not only do they have the institutional
memory, but they may also know the technical or contex-
tual issues better than you do. They may also be well-
connected to their home country’s officials and thought
AN ESTH OFFICER’S TRICKS OF THE TRADE