ASK THE US AMBASSADOR
Marvelling the beauty and majesty of nature. – US EMBASSY
I was marvelling at the beauty and majesty of nature, as evident in this picture.
Although, I think we can all agree that Brunei has a natural beauty
that is second to none. This week we have seen a lot of news regarding
climate change and protecting the
I receive a lot of questions on my opinions about Brunei’s efforts to
protect and preserve the environment and well as what the US policy is,
especially regarding the key issue of
I’d like to address these questions as well as highlight our recently
released International Religious Freedom Report. As always, I welcome
your emails questions at
ask_usambassador @yahoo.com, and as many of you do, please feel free to pass along your questions and concerns to me directly.
Q: Ambassador, you have spoken about climate change and
environmental protection in Brunei. What is it that makes Brunei unique
in regards to environmental
protection? Also, What is America doing about climate change?
Brunei occupies a unique position in the world because it possesses a
bounty of traditional fossil fuels as well as natural wonders such as
tropical rainforests, mangrove swamps,
and pristine shore lines.
The people of Brunei are truly blessed in this regard. These resources
also present Brunei with the ability to be a global leader and an
example to other nations whose economies
have a reliance on traditional fossil fuels but have richness in
biodiversity and a commitment to environmental protection.
Brunei should be commended for seeing that future, both economically
and socially, will require a commitment to cleaner energy and a renewed
interest in sustainable development.
This is a long term process but it is the future. Who better to act as
model than a nation already committed to preserving more than 70% of
its national territory?
Brunei’s advantage is this nation’s ability to serve as the “sterling standard” for environmental conservation and protection.
This can be achieved by looking at the branding and marketing of Brunei’s conservation and eco-tourism.
The commitment to the highest standards of branding is already apparent
with the Brunei Halal brand. I believe there is no reason to think that
the same high standards could not be
applied to environment conservation and protection.
Imagine the benefits to Brunei’s ecotourism and sustainable development
of a brand known as global symbol of quality and commitment to the
environment. The foundation has
already been set up through Heart of Borneo HoB and other programmes,
now comes the important work of sustaining these efforts for the
benefit of Brunei
We are all well aware of the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative.
This tri-national programme is a model for regional cooperation but
requires sustained effort and commitment. Programmes such as the
Million Trees Project are excellent
individual projects as part of the larger HoB program. It is especially
noteworthy to see His Majesty and other leaders of the Government of
Brunei committed to bringing key
stakeholders together in Brunei for important discussions on both HoB
and increasing eco-tourism as a means of sustainable development.
Brunei is not in this effort alone.
The United States is taking a leading role in addressing climate change by advancing an ever widening area of programmes.
While the US is addressing climate change at home, including lessening
our dependence on oil and reducing the destabilising effects of climate
change, we know the domestic
action is not sufficient.
This is a crisis that demands global solutions. Over 80% of future greenhouse gas emission will come from developing countries.
However, we have a responsibility as the world’s largest historic
emitter of greenhouse gases. We firmly believe we will be a leader in
the development of a clean energy economy.
Addressing climate change is an economic opportunity, not a burden.
Developing countries have a fundamental right to grow their economies
for the benefit of their citizens.
However, sustainable development is the key and low carbon development
plans are a foundation of a clean energy economy. We must work with
nations such as India and China
to ensure there are strong international agreements that build towards
These agreements must ensure America’s competitiveness remains intact while avoiding the pitfalls of global protectionism.
The US has already started innovative programmes such as the Asia
Pacific Partnership (APP) for clean development and climate. Through a
variety of public-private partnerships,
the seven nations involved in the APP are focusing on eight key
sectors, such as Renewable Energy, Cleaner Fossil Fuels and Power
Generation. I believe public-private
partnerships are areas where Brunei and the United States are already
making progress and have the opportunity to be innovative global leaders
International Religious Freedom (IRF) Report:
The State Department released the annual International Religious
Freedom (IRF) Report this week. As noted by US Secretary of State,
Hilary Clinton, the IRF is not a report simply
on an American value but on the universal value of religious freedom.
It is a freedom enshrined in the US constitution and the constitutions
of many nations. The freedom to practice, teach, and learn about
religions promotes dialogue and harmony.
When this freedom is restricted, nations and their people suffer. Many
countries have the opportunity to be an inspiration for the world in
promoting religious freedom.
If you would like to learn more about IRF, please visit the US Embassy-Brunei website at http://brunei.usembassy.gov
As always, please have a wonderful and safe weekend.