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Diplomacy in Action

Utah-Qinghai EcoPartnership

Reta Jo Lewis
Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs 
Keynote Remarks at the Reception Introducing and Honoring the Utah-Qinghai EcoPartnership at the Alta Club
Salt Lake City, UT
July 13, 2011


Thank you for that wonderful welcome and introduction. The music and video from Qinghai province and Xining city bring back wonderful memories of my recent visit. First, let me thank Governor Herbert of Utah for welcoming us to this great state and Governor Luo Huining for hosting this reception celebrating more than 30 years of “Trust and Cooperation,” and partnership, now Eco-Partnership.

From a few simple game of ping-pong, to a comprehensive series of Strategic and Economic Dialogues--the most recent of which was held in Washington, DC, this year May 9-10--the U.S.-China relationship has matured over the last 40 years.

Earlier this year, on January 19th, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi signed a Memorandum of Understanding between our two countries concerning the establishment of the U.S.-China Governors Forum to promote Sub-national Cooperation.

At a recent Brookings Cai-Xin Conference in Washington, DC, Undersecretary of State for Economy, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats said “Despite the incredible challenges of the past 30 years, what has remained constant...has been a recognition that our two countries have fundamental common interests and our relationship has enormous consequences to the world.”

Some of the consequences are environmental; including climate, ecology, health and wellbeing, and economic security - or collectively referred to as Sustainability. The world started discussing Sustainability at a United Nations Conference in Rio about 19 years ago. Preparations for the next set of discussions to be held in Rio in 2012 and appropriately called Rio+20 have just started around the world.

Ecopartnerships such as the one you are formalizing here today represent the kind of cooperation envisaged in the Memorandum of Understanding Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi signed.

Over the last year and a half, my office has facilitated cooperation and partnerships among U.S. state and local leaders and organizations such as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiative (ICLEI) and its U.S. chapter (ICLEI- USA), and, of course, the National Governors Association (NGA) which is providing a great forum for many discussions between U.S. state and Chinese provincial leaders here in Salt Lake City.

Organizations like these have been combining their expertise in facilitation, communications, technical analysis, and policy development to provide cutting edge collaborative solutions to build capacity and advance community resilience and most notably sustainability.

Members of Secretary Clinton’s Global Intergovernmental Advisor’s Office, for which I have the opportunity to serve as her Special Representative, have been working in partnership with the Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, Deputy Special Envoy Dr. Jonathan Pershing, OES Assistant Secretary Kerry Ann Jones, the Office of Global Change led by Dr. Griff Thompson, and specifically the EcoPartnership program led by Eric Maltzer. Eric has provided great leadership for the Ecopartnerships program.

The State of Utah and the Province of Qinghai partnership that we are celebrating here today was recognized at the signing ceremony.

I commend you all for the work you are doing to build thriving local and global efforts for the health and happiness of people in the U.S. and in China. While these partnerships are bilateral, the examples they set and the lessons learned are applicable in the broader global context. Ultimately such partnerships strive to be the standard-bearer and this particular partnership between Utah and Qinghai has the foundation to become one.

The issues of environmental security, clean energy, health, food security, and clean water are global challenges often requiring a whole of government approach. By including cities, counties, and states as well as national governments addressing these issues becomes much easier and arguably more efficient.

As a method of sustaining EcoPartnerships, we encourage all of the new and existing EcoPartnerships to identify corporations, universities, and businesses as well as state and local elected officials to help your partnerships flourish and have a broader and deeper influence both locally and globally in the effort to find creative and efficient solutions for sustainability.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be with you today. I look forward to learning about the progress the Utah-Qinghai EcoPartnership will inevitably make.

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