The Eco-Capitals Forum Welcomes A New Chapter

At a signing ceremony in Bangkok’s Lumpini Park on World Environment Day, the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand officially established the newest chapter of the Eco-Capitals Forum. Twelve embassies, plus the European Union (EU) mission and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) regional office, signed a sustainability pledge to help the city advance key goals, such as promoting solid waste management, increasing green spaces, energy conservation, and environmental awareness. Bangkok Governor M. R. Sukhumbund Paribatra and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) hosted the event, which was moderated by BMA Department of Environment Director Suwanna Jungrungrueng.

“We are all residents of this beautiful city. Even though we are only here temporarily, the diplomatic corps shares mutual responsibility to work together with BMA officials to actively support the city-wide movement to make Bangkok cleaner and greener,” said U.S. Ambassador Glyn T. Davies in an address at the signing ceremony.

The Eco-Capitals Forum is a framework for embassies throughout the world to reduce their environmental footprint and establish strong partnerships within their local communities. The founding members of the Bangkok chapter include the embassies of Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as the EU Delegation to Thailand and the UNEP regional office for Asia and the Pacific. 

Ambassador Davies and all participating embassies and international organizations planted native Thai Cassia trees in Lumpini Park near the ceremony site to commemorate World Environment Day. [U.S. Embassy Bangkok photo]

The Forum grew out of a pilot project in Washington, D.C. that was launched in 2009 by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Washington, D.C. chapter members discuss best practices for sustainability, participate in Earth Day events, and are currently exploring a cooperative off-site solar venture. The Eco-Capitals Forum has grown beyond D.C, to include chapters in Rome and now Bangkok. Additional chapters are currently in the planning stages. The Embassy of Thailand in Washington, D.C. is a member of the D.C. chapter, and proudly displays the pledge in its chancery.

The U.S. Mission in Thailand is committed to encouraging environmentally-friendly policies and actions. Led by an innovative Management Section, the Embassy has won the U.S. Department of State’s Greening Diplomacy Initiative Awards two years in a row for its efforts to become a pollinator-friendly compound and to reduce energy and water use through awareness campaigns. As a leader of the Bangkok chapter of the Eco-Capitals Forum, the U.S. Embassy is leveraging its sustainability initiatives to have a positive impact beyond its facilities and residences, enhancing environmental cooperation with other countries.

The founding of the Bangkok chapter of the Eco-Capitals Forum illustrates the role of diplomacy in facilitating intergovernmental relations and designing systems to meet the ambitious environmental goals set forth in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Serving as community organizers and innovators, diplomatic institutions can play a critical role in advancing key environmental initiatives. Through projects like the offsite solar farm in D.C. and various foreign missions collectively recycling in Abuja, embassies can use their purchasing power and high visibility to support sustainability efforts.

The establishment of the Bangkok chapter of the Eco-Capitals Forum marks another step in the Department of State’s efforts to use diplomacy to encourage a strong and sustainable global community. Through a central website and resource hub, the Eco-Capitals Forum chapters are exchanging best practices for city-based environmental collaboration between local governments and international institutions.

About the Authors: Sarah Hinstorff is serves as an Eco-Management Analyst in the Office of Management, Rightsizing, and Innovation’s Greening Council Executive Secretariat. Eric Hansen, who serves as Deputy Management Counselor at the U.S. Embassy Bangkokalso contributed to this article.

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Turkey
August 2, 2016
I know you will be successful to new chapter.
Ambassadors, diplomatic officials, and the Bangkok Governor pose on stage with joined hands at the Pledge Signing ceremony to symbolize the partnership of the Eco Capitals Forum. [U.S. Embassy Bangkok photo]
Posted by Sarah Hinstorff
July 12, 2016

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