About the Author: Bruce Hudspeth serves as Regional Environmental Hub Officer at U.S. Embassy Tashkent.
My colleagues and I who serve at the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, celebrated Earth Day by helping plant 60 trees in Seattle Peace Park, named after the Uzbekistan capital's sister city in the United States. We were joined by scores of volunteers who helped us commemorate the 40th anniversary of the founding of the modern environmental movement.
Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) Duane Butcher was on hand for the event, and spoke about U.S.-Uzbekistan cooperation on environmental issues. Also joining in the celebration were city and national government officials, representatives from Uzbek environmental groups and NGOs, and local children whose beautiful artwork was prominently displayed throughout the park. As a sign of international cooperation, the trees that were planted are all native to North America. "We hope that together we can make sure that these trees will be properly protected, and grow tall and beautiful for many years to come," said DCM Butcher during his remarks. "Today, our planet needs international dedication and commitment to preserve and protect the earth's resources. While we take time to recognize our achievements, we should not lose sight of the challenges that remain, and continue to build upon the legacy of the modern environmental movement started forty years ago."
The United States began providing assistance to Uzbekistan in 1993, soon after the country became independent. Since that time, the United States has provided over $300 million in programs that support development of a prosperous Uzbekistan. The U.S. Embassy in Tashkent directly administers a program of small grants, many of which have been used to fund environmental initiatives proposed and implemented by concerned Uzbek scientists, activists, and citizens. These have included awareness programs, environmental clean-up projects, and support to water users associations.