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Clinton in GU Speech: Energy Diplomacy Crucial for America

October 18, 2012 – Energy diplomacy is a necessary component of national security, human rights and global economics, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during her address at Georgetown today.

“We have an interest in helping the 1.3 billion people worldwide who don’t have access to energy,” Clinton told an audience of more than 700 in the university’s historic Gaston Hall. “We believe the more they can access power, the better their chances of starting businesses, educating their children, increasing their incomes, and joining the global economy – all of which is good for them and for us. ”

There’s great power in energy, she said.

Energy Security

“Anywhere in the world, when one nation is overly dependent on another for its energy, that can jeopardize its political and economic independence,” explained Clinton, who later took questions from undergraduates. “It can make a country vulnerable to threats and coercion. That’s why NATO has identified energy security as a key security issue of our time.”

The United States has a vested interest in resolving disputes over energy and making sure that Americans’ access to energy is secure, reliable, affordable and sustainable, she said.   

Clinton’s speech comes a year after the State Department established the Bureau of Energy Resources, which leads the State Department’s diplomatic efforts on energy.

“In the coming weeks, I will be sending policy guidance to every U.S. embassy worldwide,” she said, “instructing them to elevate their reporting on energy issues and pursue more outreach to private sector energy partners."

Alumni Connections

Carol Lancaster, Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service dean, introduced Clinton. 

“Today's event represents the wonderful combination of a deep, substantive presentation with a strong practical policy focus on the engagement of committed public servants like the Secretary of State,” Lancaster said. “We’re very proud to think of her as a Hoya by marriage.”

Former President Bill Clinton graduated from SFS in 1968.

Hillary Clinton came to campus with six Georgetown alumni who work for the energy bureau – Robert Cekuta (SFS’76), principal deputy assistant secretary of state for energy resources; Julia Nesheiwat (G’08), deputy assistant secretary for implementation; Matthew McManus (G’90), deputy director for public diplomacy and policy; Justin Berg (SFS’01), energy officer; Sally Behrhorst (C’87), deputy director for energy diplomacy; and Marti Flacks (SFS’00), deputy director for energy programs.

Extraordinary Contributions

The alumni, part of Georgetown’s Hoya Diplomatic and Development Network, took time to talk to students about their experience in the State Department’s energy resources office.

Clinton recognized the group during her speech.

“I am so grateful for the extraordinary contributions the School of Foreign Service makes to the State Department,” Clinton said. “We are enriched every single day … by the work and scholarship that goes on here at this university.”

Cookstoves Alliance

The secretary also pointed to energy success stories during her speech – getting Sudan and the newly formed South Sudan to work together, the United States and Mexico reaching an a maritime boundary agreement and supporting Iraq’s energy sector.

And she talked about the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a State Department initiative launched to help the world’s poor gain access to stoves.

“Nearly 3 billion people – that’s nearly half of the world’s population – don’t have access to modern cooking technology,” she said. “They just have fires, often inside their homes, which cause toxic air pollution, killing nearly 2 million people, mostly women and children, every year.”

Increasingly Urgent

The initiative is working with foundations, private companies and other governments to get clean and affordable stoves into 100 million homes worldwide by the end of the decade.   

Before taking questions from students, Clinton encouraged them to be public servants, innovative entrepreneurs and dedicated citizens to seek opportunities to solve energy challenges.

“The challenges I’ve discussed today will grow only more urgent in the years ahead,” she said.  “We need all the people we could possibly muster…”

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