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Earth Day Tree Planting: Ebusweni Neighborhood Care Point – Remarks by Ambassador Jeanne Maloney
April 22, 2021

Honorable Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs Vilakati,
Honorable Member of Parliament Masuku,
Manzini Regional Administrator Gija,
Community Representatives,
All protocols observed.

It is an honor and a privilege to be here with you today to celebrate Earth Day in this beautiful community, surrounded by nature.

Two people shaking handsI am inspired by the work you have all put into bringing this project to fruition, and to beautify the grounds of this vitally important neighborhood care point. I also want to applaud the efforts of all of today’s volunteers, from the community, the Ministry, and the Embassy. Very well done!

Gardening, farming, tending the land, planting trees, nurturing our green spaces—these activities are near and dear to my heart. My home state of Oklahoma was devastated in the 1930’s by a combination of drought, economic depression, and poor or inappropriate farming practices, which led to one of the most serious environmental catastrophes the United States has ever experienced. The event was dubbed the “Dust Bowl,” stripped million tons of productive topsoil from the region. Since then, we’ve learned to be better stewards of the land.

I’m proud that my grandmother was an early environmentalist. She was the first woman in the United States to be elected as president of her regional soil conservation district in Oklahoma. She served for years in that capacity, working with ranchers and farmers to protect and improve the soil and the watershed. My mother followed in her footsteps, serving on the board of Directors of the Caney Valley Conservation District until her death. And my family and I have made a point wherever we have lived to plant something green behind to enrich the environment.

Earth Day is an opportunity to reconnect and recommit to nature. It’s time to commit to taking action—each one of us, in big ways and in small ways. It’s a reminder of our obligation to act to protect our environment, not just on Earth Day, but every day.

Today, President Biden will host a Leaders Summit on Climate to underscore the urgency – and the economic benefits – of stronger climate action. In recent years, scientists have underscored the need to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. A key goal of the Leaders Summit will be to catalyze efforts that keep that 1.5-degree goal within reach. The Summit will also highlight examples of how enhanced climate ambition will create good paying jobs, advance innovative technologies, and help vulnerable countries adapt to climate impacts.

Today we are proud to bring trees, in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism and the Environment, to bolster its program of beautification, to contribute through the spirit of volunteerism to this community—our community—and to nourish and revive the green spaces of this care point. I am grateful for this community’s contribution to prepare the land, and I look forward to watching these trees grow, begin to bear fruit, and be tended with loving hands from the community.

Members of our very own Embassy Green Team are here today to represent our commitment to taking environmental action here, locally, where we can all make a difference. I thank them for their service.

I am also grateful to see the depth of commitment from the community, who prepared this land, and the ministry. Thank you for your service and thank you for giving back to the environment!