Embassy Goes Green
February 22, 2008 (Tunis) – Two ceremonies on Tuesday, February 19, 2008 showcased initiatives which both symbolize the longstanding ties of friendship between the peoples of Tunisia and the United States of America and contribute to preserving the environment.
In one ceremony, U.S. Ambassador Robert F. Godec accepted a gift of two olive trees symbolizing U.S.-Tunisian friendship from L’Association de Sauvegarde de la Médina de Tébourba. The trees direct from Tebourba were presented Mr. Abdelmajid Mahjoub and Dr. Abdelwahab Mahjoub, past and current presidents, respectively, of the association.
During the ceremony, Mr. Abdelhamid Mahjoub underlined the importance of the olive tree as a symbol of Tunisia. Indeed, since there are far more olive trees than people and the trees live for so long, in many ways “we are all guests of the olive trees.” In his remarks, Ambassador Godec highlighted the meaning of the olive tree as a symbol of peace, abundance and friendship. Ambassador Godec and Mr. Abdelhamid Mahjoub, President and Director General of Moulins Mahjoub, also joked that the Embassy could now bottle its own olive oil.
Another ceremony that day marked the beginning of a major environmental project at the U.S. Embassy in Tunis intended to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions through the planting of trees. The U.S. Embassy in Tunis is the pilot project for a worldwide Carbon Offset Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO). A symbolic tree planted by Ambassador Godec and OBO Chief Landscape Architect Alain deVergie was the first of 170 trees – 127 of them olive trees – to be planted at the U.S. Embassy in Tunis under the program. The benefits to the environment are clear as the trees will process carbon dioxide and absorb other greenhouse gases and particulates from the air. What to do with all the olives has yet to be decided.