Ambassador Leaf hosted environmental protection contacts from Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates at the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi on June 2 in recognition of World Environment Day. The evening event showcased the embassy’s eco-diplomacy efforts, including greening initiatives on the embassy grounds.
“We are committed to protecting the environment, not just rhetorically, but through concrete actions,” Ambassador Barbara A. Leaf said. “We are aware that the path towards sustainability can be long and sometimes difficult, but we believe that as Americans, we must, like you, lead the transition.”
Ambassador Leaf and the embassy’s facilities manager, Ralph Delarue, led guests on an up-close tour of the embassy’s newly-refurbished wetlands area, a cost-saving project that recycles up to 4,000 gallons (~15,000 liters) of water a day. Take a video tour of the wetlands on YouTube!
“The wetlands project is doing exactly what it is supposed to do,” Delarue explained. “You’re providing a water source, cleaning it, plant life is growing, and you reclaim clean water on the other end.”
Delarue said that the upside of a wetlands area is that it saves a lot of water, but acknowledged that the downside is that the project takes a lot of space.
“Abu Dhabi has a lot of space and not a lot of water, so to me this makes sense,” he said.
In addition to offering natural beauty and a new habitat for plants and wildlife, the wetlands project shows the embassy’s dedication to water conservation, a critical issue in the UAE. Combined with water-conscious landscaping and up-graded faucets that reduce water waste by 70%, the wetlands go a long way in reducing the environmental impact of the embassy’s daily operations.
Embassy Abu Dhabi’s efforts are a part of the worldwide Greening Diplomacy Initiative, launched by former Secretary Clinton in 2009 to improve the environmental performance and sustainability of the State Department’s facilities around the world. The initiative develops and implements department-wide policies and actions to reduce the State Department’s environmental footprint and costs, placing the environment at the forefront of our foreign policy agenda.