This is something in which we have to exercise personal leadership and personal commitment. Your being here tonight, Your activity, Your leadership, Supreme Master, are already a fine example of that leadership and of stepping forward.
Lionel Friedberg (vegan): You’ve just heard the song, “El Sinaloense,” performed by Mariachi la Diferencia. So, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Greenest Heroes Gala. It’s being held here at the prestigious Fairmont Mayakoba Hotel in one of the most beautiful places in the world – Cancún, Mexico.
Mariana Tosca (vegan): And this beautiful city is currently hosting COP16, the 16th annual Conference of Parties international climate change conference, with tens of thousands of people here. The decisions made at the COP16 have the very, very real power to change the destiny of the world.
Lionel Friedberg (vegan): Tonight, we celebrate the many areas where great strides to climate change have already been made. That’s what this lovely gala in this lovely ballroom is all about. We’ve got an exciting program lined up for you, starting with a 5-course gourmet vegan meal, reflecting international flavors and the most sustainable and compassionate diet for the planet.
Mariana Tosca (vegan): The main purpose of this evening is to celebrate and honor the noble efforts of those courageous people who are championing effective ways to positively impact climate change. Throughout the evening, we will enjoy entertainment by celebrated artists from around the world.
Lionel Friedberg (vegan): Ladies and gentlemen, we are honored to have very many dignitaries with us at this evening’s gala event. Heading the list, of course, is our Guest of Honor, none other than Supreme Master Ching Hai. Merely having Her in the same room with us is more than a treat, it’s an exceptional privilege. Thank You, Supreme Master, for being with us tonight.
Mariana Tosca (vegan): We have the Mayor of Cancún, Jaime Hernández Zaragoza; José Maria Figueres, former President of Costa Rica; Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland; Eugene Chien, chair for the Taiwan Institute for Sustainable Energy; Gurbangeldi Allaberdiyev, head of delegation of Turkmenistan Ministry of Nature Protection; John Topping, president of the Climate Institute in Washington DC; Latif Amars, the project manager for Tanzania Natural Resource Forum; Ezzat Lewis Hannalla Agaiby, the department head of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs (EEAA); Mario Castro, the Deputy of Cancún; Heherson J. Alvarez, Secretary for the Office of the President of the Philippines; Deputy Director Hamid Javaid Awan of Pakistan’s Ministry of Environment; Consul General Mark Carney of the United Kingdom; Ambassador Hamdani Djafar of Embassy of Indonesia; and Mr. S. T. Kodikara, Secretary to Sri Lanka's Ministry of Agriculture. There are many more dignitaries in attendance, however, due to limited time we cannot name them all. Can we have a round of applause.
Supreme Master Ching Hai (vegan): Beautiful people, this is impromptu, spontaneous, because our President must leave. He has urgent business to go. It was very gracious of him to come. So I let him, please say hallo to you. To welcome you and to tell you “Be Veg, Go Green,” something like that. Please, the president of Costa Rica!
President Figueres: Good evening, good evening to all my friends. Dear friends, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity. To You, Supreme Master, thank You so much for honoring us in this beautiful Mexican land. I wanted to stop by and not only pay my respects but also thank you for this event and for celebrating the activity that you are celebrating tonight in honoring heroes that are doing good work for our planet. I would have loved to stay here. I am the Chair of the Carbon War Room and I have activities this evening that I must be present at. So, with the music here, I don't know if I should dance or what, but…
Supreme Master Ching Hai (vegan): They just welcome you. They’re so excited. The music went on by itself.
President Figueres: OK. But in any case, if I may, I come from a country that has taken environmental policies very serious and very at heart.
Supreme Master Ching Hai (vegan): Yes, in Costa Rica. In your country many activities. Please tell a little bit.
President Figueres: Many of you have been to Costa Rica, the Supreme Master was sharing with me that She was there about two weeks ago in our country. And, of course, for us, the environment has become a way of life. Sustainability has become very much the paradigm towards which we have moved, combining good macroeconomic policies with good social policies, and at the same time developing ourselves with nature. In many ways, I would consider myself and call myself a “tree hugger,” that expression they use in North America to identify people that are very inclined towards respecting the environment. But I would also say that in bringing the resources that we need to bring to the table and in bringing all the strength that we need to bring from different sectors of society to be able to tackle the challenge of climate change, we would need to bring in, very importantly, the private sector as well. This is an issue on which I feel it is just too important to our lives to be left in the hands of government themselves, or of the political framework. So, while I wish the political framework and the process of the countries coming together here in Cancún the best of luck in reaching important agreements, I don't think we can just wait for them to reach an agreement. This is something in which we have to exercise personal leadership and personal commitment. Your being here tonight, Your activity, Your leadership, Supreme Master, are already a fine example of that leadership and of stepping forward. So, I wish You the best in Your activities here this evening and in the times to come. These are important times, beautiful times, challenging times. Climate change may be to some a big challenge. To many of us, it’s a tremendous opportunity to move towards a world, that is free of carbon emissions, that provides better jobs, that provides better opportunities for the private sector and for civil society to interact. That world, which is a much better world, is possible if we all exercise our leadership and we work in that direction. Thank you so much, God bless you, and I wish you have a very nice celebration.
Supreme Master Ching Hai (vegan): Thank you. You’re the best. God bless you and your country. Thank you for coming. We thank His Excellency for sparing his precious time to come to grace us with his presence. Please do one more thank you applause.
President Figueres: One of the major contributions we can make to lower carbon emissions is a change in our diets. And if we go in that direction, we will be doing a lot to lower emissions, so it is an important contribution. I thank Supreme Master [Ching Hai] for Her leadership, thank Her for Her optimism, thank Her for the people skills She has that makes Her so unique and so special.