By Naomi Anisman
In his inaugural address, President Joe Biden laid out his plans to prioritize climate change in foreign policy strategy: “We will lead not merely by the example of our power but by the power of our example.” Shortly thereafter, this strategy was reflected in Executive Orders on the Climate Change Crisis.
Embassy Baku responded to that call to be a powerful example and is the proud recipient of the State Department’s annual Greening Diplomacy Initiative Award.
Much of the infrastructure necessary to support climate-friendly initiatives in Azerbaijan is in the nascent stages. Therefore, Embassy Baku’s Green Team—an inclusive group of direct-hire Americans, eligible family members and locally employed (LE) staff—cooperates closely with the public diplomacy section to raise awareness and engage the interest of Azerbaijani citizens and the host government on green issues.
Over the last year, Embassy Baku’s Green Team has participated in a number of high-profile events. On Nov. 26, 2021, they planted 335 olive trees—one for each of the Embassy’s local employees—in honor of LE Staff Recognition Day with dignitaries such as the Deputy Minister of Ecology and press in attendance. In February, the team helped publicize the embassy’s new electric vehicle via a carpool karaoke video featuring the deputy chief of mission and Azerbaijan’s 2011 Eurovision song contest winner. At the embassy’s Open Day—that was attended by 400 Azerbaijani students—the team staffed a booth displaying Green Team initiatives, Apr. 19. The team also installed and publicized an air quality monitor that gathers data on pollution levels; participated in a beach clean up event sponsored by a U.S. company; installed solar panels on the roof of a new storage facility; and persuaded the landlord of leased embassy office space to install and maintain solar panels that post funded through Building Operating Expenses.
Naomi Anisman is a supervisory general services officer in the management section, and a co-chair of Embassy Baku’s Green Team.