Thank you for joining us as we commemorate World Environment Day, celebrated each year on June 5. Your interventions and discussions on environmental literacy are helping Swaziland to address important educational priorities, legal frameworks, and sustainable policies that will impact the nation for years to come. Environmental issues have rightfully taken center stage in recent years as governments and private citizens shift resources to protect the planet. Addressing our most pressing challenges in this space requires strong institutions that coordinate their efforts, set the right benchmarks, and adhere to them.
Robust environmental education programs, as shown in a 2014 global research study by the Blue Sky Funders Forum, increase a student’s level of critical thinking, self-confidence, and problem solving skills. Moreover, they are also more inclined to have stronger interpersonal relationships and more willing to take action. With these types of outcomes, the need for stronger environmental literacy is clear in preparing Swaziland’s youth to be responsible and informed citizens who will value and protect the country’s natural resources and landscapes.
Business leaders in Swaziland are beginning to recognize the importance of environmental literacy and innovation as a vehicle to increase their productivity and profitability. I urge you to partner early and often with stakeholders in the business world, who ultimately will seek to employ your students to find sustainable solutions to our challenges. Finally, I want to be frank about the role of the United States in pursuing an environmentally-friendly foreign policy. While the mechanisms to advance environmental issues may shift, the willpower – among the American people, politicians, and educators – to address these challenges remains resolute.
Thank you for having these important discussions. My sincere hope is that we can continue to provide the space for them to happen.