Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks to the Press

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Luanda Science Center Luanda, Angola

January 25, 2024

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  It’s a particular pleasure to be here in Angola’s brand-new science museum, to get a chance to see the museum.  I can just see the generations of young Angolans who will come here to be inspired, to have their eyes opened, maybe choose careers in science, and to add to the incredible storehouse of human knowledge.  It’s a wonderful facility, but it’s also, I think, symbolic of two areas of collaboration between the United States and Angola that I’m very excited about and that we’re really pursuing and digging into.

One is the fact that Artemis is now the third – excuse me, Angola is now the third African country to join the Artemis Accords for the peaceful use of space.  And you can see the extraordinary potential, some of which is already happening through existing NASA collaborations but will only be strengthened by Angola as part of Artemis, in terms of addressing some of the most acute needs here in Angola, including mitigating droughts, including irrigating soil and crops, and working on the effective use and management of water.  So much can be done from space using geospatial data, and the collaboration that we will now have between the United States and Angola is only going to strengthen those efforts and that partnership.

Second, and relatedly, I’m very pleased that Angola is joining as an early partner in our VACS initiative, Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils.  The power here is this:  As we’ve been dealing with the kind of food insecurity over the last few years and we’ve seen an almost perfect storm between climate change, COVID, conflicts like the Russian aggression against Ukraine, and the impact they’ve had on food security, one of the things that I’ve heard again and again, particularly in Africa, is that for all of the thanks that we get for the emergency assistance that we’ve been able to provide – either directly or through the United Nations, like the World Food Programme – what our partners are really for are investments in their own sustainable productive capacity.  And at the heart of that is making sure that they have the strongest possible system for producing food.  And one of the things that we’ve understood is that it really starts with two very basic things: the seeds and the soil.

Here in Africa, and here in Angola, when we look at some of the traditional seeds that Africans have relied on – and here maybe it’s cassava, maybe it’s millet, maybe it’s sorghum, incredibly nutritious and that can now be made even more resistant to the ravages of climate change, to the cycles of droughts and floods and other abnormal weather events – when you have high-quality seeds and then you put them into high-quality soil, and we now have the ability to map soil anywhere in the world and understand where it’s strong and healthy, where it’s not and how to remediate that – you put those two things together and you have a much stronger, sustainable, resilient, and nutritious agricultural base.  And then we get to the point where Africa is feeding itself and, indeed, probably feeding other parts of the world.

That’s the vision behind VACS, and that’s the partnership that we’re now building with Angola as one of our early partners in VACS.  So this seemed like a fitting place to emphasize that collaboration – both new heights in space, but also right here on Earth – and to demonstrate how these two things are connected.  So I’m excited to be able to be here at the museum to think about, again, generations of Angolans who will come here, have their eyes opened to science, to exploration, to using human ingenuity to solve problems.

And finally, fundamentally, at the heart of all of our partnerships, including the partnership with Angola, is sharing and transferring knowledge.  Because, as important as assistance is, as important as investment is, it’s that transfer of knowledge – the sharing of knowledge, the sharing of understanding – that genuinely builds capacity in our partner countries and allows them to stand strongly on their own feet.

Thanks very much.

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