With 22,000 facilities, 15,000 vehicles, and 75,000 personnel in more than 190 countries, the U.S. Department of State has a large global platform to highlight U.S. environmental technologies and best practices. The Department has always had an interest in sustainability, but one key milestone was when U.S. Ambassador to Sweden, Michael Wood, initiated and signed a sustainability pledge in 2007, and encouraged other U.S. Ambassadors to follow suit. Around the world, Department employees began to coordinate their activities to contribute to environmental solutions. At the same time, growing interest from the public and technological advancements led to expanded sustainability reporting and performance requirements from the Congress and the White House.
To harness this activity, the Department formally established the grassroots Greening Diplomacy Initiative (GDI), its senior oversight body, the Greening Council, and the Chief Sustainability Officer position on April 22, 2009. The Chief Sustainability Officer, the GDI, and the Greening Council are supported and led by an Executive Secretariat in the Office of Management Strategy and Solutions (M/SS).
GDI is driven by the concept of eco-diplomacy, a term the Department coined to reflect the importance of leveraging the Department’ facilities and operations as a strategic platform to advance the conservation of natural resources and highlight U.S. environmental technological and policy successes.
The U.S. Department of State strives to embody the principles of eco-diplomacy through sustainable practices that reduce the Department’s environmental footprint, increase operational security and efficiency, and facilitate healthier spaces for employees and populations across the globe. Sustainable practices help the Department plan for and mitigate enterprise risks while reducing waste, and also provide a platform to strengthen commercial, cultural, and political cooperation and engagement. Sustainability projects like smart metering and conservation campaigns have also resulted in protecting the investment of the American taxpayer, with millions of dollars of avoided costs.
About the Greening Council Executive Secretariat
The Greening Council Executive Secretariat (GC-ES) within the Office of Management Strategy and Solutions (M/SS) serves as the global hub for regulatory compliance and reporting, partnerships and outreach, and sustainability innovation at the U.S. Department of State. These activities increase operational efficiency and security, reduce Department use of natural resources through improving energy and water efficiency, and provide data and tools that protect the health of the Department’s personnel and their families.
The GC-ES also works to put the Department at the forefront of leveraging big data for sustainability through developing innovative programs to collect and analyze key data streams from our 270+ diplomatic posts around the world. GC-ES partners with the private sector, universities, other U.S. government agencies, and more to improve systems across the Department and catalyze innovation.
GC-ES is responsible for ensuring the Department’s compliance with relevant executive orders and Congressional mandates, as well as harnessing great ideas from U.S. embassies and consulates, the private sector, universities, and other nations. GC-ES represents the Department in meetings at the White House, Congressional and inter-agency working groups that develop environmental requirements and guidance for Federal agencies.
GC-ES initiatives include:
- The Annual Greening Diplomacy Initiative Awards
- The Annual Sustainability Survey
- Internet of Things for Sustainability
Efficiency, effective outreach, and stewardship define American diplomacy at the onset of the 21st century