Remarks at Green Fair, National Botanical Gardens, April 26, 2015

I’d like to give a warm welcome to all who are joining us for the U.S. Embassy’s 5th annual Green Fest. I’d also like to thank the Ministry of the Environment and the Director of the Jardín Botanico for supporting our Green efforts and for being here today to help kick off the Green Fest. Working together, we can preserve our environment by living Green and promoting Green practices.

One of America’s foremost astrophysicists, Niel deGrasse Tyson, said, “One of the most mind-altering pictures ever taken was shot 46 years ago from Apollo 8, while orbiting the moon.” He’s referring to the first photograph of Earth, as seen from space, in which the Earth appears small and peaceful. All you can see are oceans, mountains, and clouds. It was the first time any of us had seen Earth from that perspective. It spread the idea of Earth as a shared home, one that we cannot abandon, and it changed our world. That photo made all humanity realize: in no way does the Earth need us, but in every way, we need the Earth. Soon after, Earth Day was founded.

Suddenly people were thinking about the environment as a shared responsibility. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the UN, encapsulated this idea when he said, “There can be no ‘Plan B’ because there is no ‘Planet B.'” We were supposed to be exploring the moon on that Apollo 8 mission, but instead, as Tyson put it, “We discovered the Earth for the first time.”

This week, we’ve seen citizens of the world, including Dominicans in every part of the country participating in clean ups, promoting recycling, and organizing activities like this one to celebrate Earth Day. However, we should not stop at just one day or one week per year. Earth Day needs to be every day. In line with the Green Fest slogan, “Live Green”, I believe that even one small change in our lifestyle, when sustained over time, can make a real difference. I encourage you to make that change.

The Embassy of the United States takes its environmental stewardship and leadership role seriously. We note that the Dominican Republic is ranked as one of the countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change.  Consequently, we are committed to work with our Dominican partners throughout the country to address this challenge and promote Green projects. We are also engaged on projects of our own, such as improving the efficiency and sustainability of our embassy buildings. I encourage you to watch the videos about these projects, which can be found on the Embassy’s social media sites.

To conclude, thank you to the more than 70 vendors of Green products and initiatives that are participating in the fair today. I also would like to recognize all our volunteers. Each year the Green Fest has grown, and this year’s festivities will the best yet as a result of your participation.

Thank you to everyone for coming out to support us. I hope you all enjoy the festival in this beautiful setting.