Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan’s As Prepared Remarks at the Earth Day Tree Planting Ceremony with the Amakomhene Nana Adu Mensah Asare
Thursday April 22, 2021; 08:15 a.m. – 09:45 a.m.
Venue: Ankaase -Lake Bosomtwe
Amakomhene Nana Adu Mensah Asare;
Honorable Minister Simon Osei-Mensah;
District Chief Executives;
Eminent Chiefs and Elders of Asanteman;
Members of the Ankaase and Lake Bosomtwe community;
Members of the media;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
All protocols observed:
Good morning! I’m thrilled to join the Amakomhene, his very distinguished chiefs and elders, and all the invited guests here at beautiful Lake Bosomtwe, to celebrate Earth Day. We’re gathered today to reaffirm our continued collective responsibilities as caretakers of our natural environment.
I’d like to thank the Amakomhene, as Chairman and Coordinator of the Asante Kingdom Landscape Restoration Project, for coordinating this event with so many stakeholders and community members. The number of chiefs gathered here today is a testament to the commitment of Otumfuo and his chiefs and elders to restoring our natural environment.
Today marks 51 years since the global community commemorated the first Earth Day. By our presence, we hope to remind the citizens of both our countries – and beyond – of the need to act not only for our own individual interest but also on behalf of this planet we share with all its diverse inhabitants. The world is reaching a tipping point, and the ongoing global pandemic continues to teach us that to overcome global challenges we must be united in our approach to find solutions.
Today is a call to action to renew our commitment to a healthier and more resilient future for our people and our planet alike. Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity, and Ghana, like the United States, is no stranger to these challenges. Climate change will affect local vital water resources, energy supplies, crop production and food security.
Agriculture remains the backbone of Ghana’s economy, supplying over 70% of its national food requirements. And since Ghanaian agriculture is predominantly rain-fed, it remains highly vulnerable to climate change. Indeed, Lake Bosomtwe is an excellent example of why addressing climate change is a priority for both the Biden Administration and the world.
This unique ecosystem, seemingly forged by the heavens themselves, is in some ways much like our own planet. The actions of one community on the lake shore can affect every other community around the lake. Generations ago, wise leaders of these communities made bold decisions to limit pollutants entering the lake.
We applaud the Government of Ghana’s efforts to mainstream climate change policies in its national development strategies, as well as its commitment to developing ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement. The government’s political will is commendable, but the full support and active engagement of Ghana’s citizens are also important for mitigating the effects of climate change.
On this Earth Day, the Amakomhene and I are here to lead by example by planting indigenous tree species around Lake Bosomtwe in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and fight deforestation and threats to water bodies. Today is also an opportunity for us to demonstrate our collective responsibility for the environment. This year’s Earth Day celebration is particularly significant for the United States.
The United States Government has rejoined the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and re-engaged the global community on climate issues. The Biden Administration has prioritized integrating climate objectives into our larger diplomatic efforts and is challenging both ourselves and other major emitters to increase commitments under the Agreement. To quote President Biden: “We will lead not merely by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.”
The United States Government is committed to joining its partners, traditional leaders, the conservation community, civil society, academia, the media, the youth, students, and others across the globe to draw attention to our shared responsibility for protecting our environment and natural ecosystems.
The theme for this year’s Earth Day celebration – Restore Our Earth – calls to mind the American saying: ‘‘We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” We are indeed the stewards of this planet for future generations.
And we must gear our collective efforts now towards conserving and restoring our forests and water bodies, promoting sustainable agriculture and fisheries, stopping illegal logging, mining, and fishing, and combatting wildlife trafficking and marine plastic pollution. Our attitude towards our planet will determine its – and mankind’s – survival.
Today, I want to reiterate the U.S. government’s pledge to continue providing technical assistance and partnering with our Ghanaian counterparts to tackle the numerous environmental challenges. Planting trees in our communities, schools, backyards, farmlands, and gardens may seem like a small step, but many such actions will have a positive effect on the collective challenge before us.
In conclusion, I’d like to commend the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, for showing tremendous leadership by embarking on the Asante Kingdom Landscape Restoration Project, and also commend the Amakomhene, Nana Adu Mensah Asare, as Chairman of that effort. This is an ambitious project that I am pleased to support, and I now ask you all to in turn do same. As we plant a tree on the shores of Lake Bosomtwe, I encourage you to undertake similar environmental restoration projects in your own communities.
Our ancestors planted trees for us to enjoy, and while we may not see the full results of our endeavors let’s do our part so that our mother Earth – our Asase Yaa – will be in better shape for the next generation.
So, let’s get to work restoring our Earth! Thank you.