Conserving Environment “not a choice, a necessity”: U.S. Diplomat in Tanzania to AMECEA

Ambassador Donald John Wright addressing delegates of the 20th AMECEA Plenary Assembly in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 11 July 2022. Credit: ACI Africa

The responsibility of conserving the environment “is not a choice but a necessity to future generations”, the U.S. ambassador to Tanzania has told delegates of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA).

In his address on the third day of the 20th AMECEA Plenary Assembly, Ambassador Donald John Wright described the crisis of climate change as “one of the most urgent and important challenges facing our world today.”

“The impact of climate change affects not only our communities and natural resources, but also our ability to thrive economically and socially,” Mr. Wright said during his Monday, July 11 address to AMECEA delegates who have met to reflect on the care for the environment in the Eastern Africa region in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. 

He underscored the need to conserve the environment, saying, “Protecting our shared earth is not a choice; it is a necessity for all our future generations. Together we can create sustainable initiatives, action and policies that improve our way of life in the world around us.”

“This is not only a moral imperative but an economic imperative. Doing our part to protect the environment will have lasting effects in all areas of the economy by fueling greater growth, new jobs and better opportunities for all,” the U.S. diplomat said.


He told AMECEA delegates comprising over 100 Catholic Bishops from nine-member countries of Eastern Africa that “agriculture is the primary medium through which climate change will impact people, ecosystems and global economies.”

Mr. Wright gave a grim picture of the future amid laxity in environmental conservation efforts.

He said, “In the coming decades, rainfall is expected to become more variable, floods are expected to become more common, droughts are expected to become more intense and more frequent and last longer and sea levels are expected to rise.”

“All these challenges and changes will significantly impact food security,” Mr. Wright said, and added, “Understanding how climate change affects the food supply and demand across all sectors is of paramount importance.”

For society to progress, the U.S. diplomat said, “We must work towards smart and sustainable agricultural processes and practices. In addition, wildlife is a crucial asset for East Africa’s growth and development.”

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“The total direct contribution to GDP of nature-based tourism to Tanzania and Kenya is over 1.2 billion dollars. Climate change and poaching pose a severe threat to East Africa’s treasured wildlife. Strengthening smart conservation and management of natural resources are critical to sustaining wildlife, human population and East Africa’s vital tourism industry,” he said.

In his July 11 address to delegates drawn from the nine AMECEA countries that include Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, the U.S. diplomat outlined some of the measures taken by his native country to fight climate change.

“Let me assure all of you that tackling climate change is a priority for the United States. President Joe Biden is taking swift action to place the U.S. and indeed the world on a path to achieving net-zero emissions by the year 2050,” he said.

To meet the demand of science, Mr. Wright said the U.S. is “mobilizing a whole of government's efforts to reduce climate pollution in every sector of the economy and increase resilience to climate impacts.”

“We are enacting climate smart policies that will help create good modern paid jobs, build a modern and sustainable infrastructure and deliver an equitable clean energy future,” he added.


To engage our international colleagues in tackling climate change, the U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania said his country is “taking a leading role during earth day events and the annual United Nations Climate change conference.”

He acknowledged the role of the developed countries in the worsening situation of climate change, saying, “Certainly, developed countries have largely contributed to the climate crisis making it more difficult for many people in developing countries to make a living.”

“With this in mind, we have placed environmental justice at the center of what we do, addressing the disproportionate health, environmental and economic impacts that are being borne primarily by communities that lack resources and opportunities,” he said. 

In Tanzania and around Africa, Mr. Wright said the U.S. is “committed to providing the resources and tools needed to combat climate change in your communities without creating unnecessary burdens on your lives.”

“The United States proudly supports a range of environmental issues in Tanzania and Africa more broadly,” he said.

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He explained, “We are committed to safeguarding Tanzania’s biodiversity through USAID. One of our programs USAID Preserve Natural Resources is a 30.5-million-dollar project involving not only traditional conservation partners but Tanzania’s national and local governments, the private sector and the media to protect wildlife corridors, fight poaching and build capacity for conservation efforts.”

In addition, Mr. Wright said the U.S. further supports “community-based conservation programs in wildlife management in areas that empower local Tanzanians to manage key protected ecosystems.”

“In 2021 for example over 130,000 people receive a direct increase in economic benefits through sustainable natural resource management and biodiversity conservation,” he added.

The U.S., he continued, also funds “small scale community development projects in every region of Tanzania through initiatives like the Ambassador’s Self-Help Fund. Some of the unique projects we fund significantly conserve, protect and restore Tanzania’s natural resources, wildlife and way of life.”

The U.S. diplomat hailed the “remarkable collaboration between the faith-based organizations and community leaders from all over Africa” at the ongoing AMECEA Plenary Assembly that is set to conclude on July 17 with Holy Mass.

“No matter what our faith or belief, we must all stand together to protect our earth,” he said, and added, “Know that when it comes to protecting our shared environment, the American people and the United States government stand in complete solidarity with you.”

Mr. Wright further said, “Let us continue to take care of our environment so that even the future generations can enjoy that heritage.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.