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Two Tucson Mayors Help Welcome Africa Energy Ministers

By Michael Carson


Lucky timing or La Nina? Whatever it was, Tucson’s outgoing and incoming mayors were part of a historical event.

The city that embraces many cultures recently hosted guests who shared their own cultures during the first-ever U.S.-AFRICA Energy Ministers Conference.

The conference brought together 48 energy ministers from all but a few countries in Africa. The ministers met among themselves and with U.S. Government officials and senior representatives from the private sector to discuss sustainable energy development, increased access to energy for Africa’s people, and investment opportunities while protecting the continent’s resources.

Tucson’s role began in September with a conference call between retiring Mayor George Miller and U. S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. Miller noted that the innovative thinking that makes Tucson a national leader in sustainable energy and resource conservation efforts helped lead to the city’s selection as conference host.

Tucson participates in programs such as Clean Cities, Million Solar Roofs, and Climate Wi$e. Already this year, the city has garnered a western regional award for VIVA RECICLAJE!, a recycling program geared toward its Spanish-speaking population.

In December, newly-elected Mayor Bob Walkup welcomed the ministers to a part of the United States that more resembles regions of Africa than typical conference locales such as Washington, D.C., New York, or Los Angeles. During his proclamation of U.S.-AFRICA Energy Ministers Conference Days, Walkup noted how Tucson is mindful of energy and growth as the city addresses its environmental and economic needs.

Energy Secretary Richardson also spoke at the welcome reception and called for establishing successful partnerships to foster sustainable energy development in Africa. Richardson announced the creation of a Summer Energy Institute sponsored by his department and the University of Arizona and a project to help African nations develop responses to oil spills and related emergencies.

The city also hosted a tour of Civano, an environmental- and pedestrian-friendly residential Tucson community that features state of the art technology, and a reception for the ministers at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

The African Energy Ministers – equivalent to cabinet ministers – and the U. S. Department of Energy endorsed the following at the conclusion of the conference:

  • a Joint Statement on Sustainable Energy Development and Cooperation in Support of the Environment;

  • a Joint Statement on Investment Principles for the Energy Sector; and

  • the Tucson Communique, which confirmed agreements and intents and also set year 2000 meetings in Morocco, South Africa, and Algeria.

For further information contact Mary Okoye at 520-791-4204, or e-mail to: mokoye1@ci.tucson.az.us

Michael Carson is a Public Information Specialist for the City of Tucson.

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