U.S. Embassy Leads Environmental Preservation Charge

Citizens are being urged to redouble their efforts to combat pollution and preserve the environment as the region continues to face alarming environmental shocks.  The call for greater environmental stewardship came as the United States Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS, under the leadership of its newly established “Green Team,” joined worldwide counterparts in observing Earth Day on April 22.

In lending his voice to the charge, the Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Aruna Amirthanayagam, said good stewardship of the Earth was essential to many of the Embassy’s diplomatic and development objectives including citizen security, good governance, and poverty alleviation.

“We know that after decades of learning from our mistakes that a healthy environment is at the core of human well-being,” he said, indicating that more than 1.6 billion people worldwide relied on the Earth’s forests for some aspect of their livelihoods, and more than 2.6 billion people in developing countries depended on fish as a food source and for income. “But this is not an effort for one or a few.  Every single one of us must play a part in ensuring that our Earth’s gifts are used wisely and responsibly,” he cautioned.

Christina Cairns, U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Natural Resource Officer and deputy chairman of the “Green Team” painted a disconcerting picture of excessive marine pollution.  Cairns said it is estimated that if current practices continue over the next decade, for every three tons of fish in the ocean, there will be one ton of plastic. “Earth Day gives us a moment to pause, reflect on these issues, and recommit to our promise of protecting our Earth for the sake of future generations. Today reminds us of the responsibility to be good stewards of the air we breathe, to protect and preserve our precious ocean and land resources, and to redouble our efforts to combat needless pollution and waste,” she added.

Also delivering remarks during the Earth Day celebration was Executive Director of the Barbados Renewable Association, former diplomat and Minister of Energy, Clive Griffith, who reiterated that if mankind continued at its current pace, our development would be “under threat.”  “We need to move with dispatch since our environment cannot wait,” he cautioned.

After the formal ceremony, members of the “Green Team” invited guests to witness the planting of a local cherry tree on the Embassy’s compound.  The Embassy also showcased its pilot solar panel project, two electrical cars, and other eco-friendly initiatives that it has implemented to promote environmental preservation.  Local vendors also attended the Earth Day celebration and sold natural juices, arts and crafts, plants, and recyclable light bulbs.