Earth Day Celebrations Begin with Planting of “Tree of Friendship” with U.S. Ambassador Bell

Kicking off a week of celebration and activism in honor of Earth Day, CEU Provost and Pro-Rector Liviu Matei joined U.S. Ambassador Colleen Bell and 5th district Mayor Peter Szentgyorgyvolgyi to plant a "Tree of Friendship" in Szabadsag ter (Freedom Square). After the white magnolia tree was planted, CEU student volunteers helped prepare the park for spring by planting dozens of small bushes and plants.

A "Tree of Friendship" is planted in Budapest in honor of Earth Day. Image credit: CEU/Peter Rakossy

Ambassador Bell referred to CEU as a "leader in environmental education in Hungary and the region" and spoke of the partnership between the U.S. Embassy and CEU to help build a Sustainable University Network (SUN) in Hungary. SUN, bolstered by a $30,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State's Regional Environmental, Science & Technology, and Health (ESTH) Hub for Central and Eastern Europe, brings together student environmental groups to coordinate activities, to strengthen overall impact, and to inspire cooperation and continuity.

In his remarks, Matei noted CEU's commitment to sustainability and ongoing academic research in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy. He underscored the importance of working with our neighbors to both preserve and improve spaces in our shared district.

"We are also committed to civic engagement within our home community here in the 5th district of Budapest," Matei said. "We have reiterated that commitment by embarking on an exciting campus redevelopment project that will provide the district, its residents and businesses, with a modern, welcoming public space including conference facilities and presentation spaces. We look forward to continuing to be an active part of the civic life of the 5th district. CEU currently hosts over 700 events per year both academic and cultural that are open to the public, and this will continue in our new space."

CEU Provost and Pro-Rector Liviu Matei gives remarks at a tree-planting event in honor of Earth Day. Image credit: CEU/Peter Rakossy

Szabadsag ter has been home to the U.S. Embassy for 80 years and the park serves as a centerpiece of the bustling 5th District, providing treasured green space in the city center.

"We are grateful for the friendship and hospitality of the Hungarian people and of all our neighbors in this district. This tree is a symbol of that friendship," said Ambassador Bell. "In the United States and throughout the world, Earth Day has become an important occasion to remind us of the necessity of clean air, water, and soil to nurture healthy living and promote vibrant communities."

Recipients of the CEU Alumni Scholarship plant bushes for Earth Day. Image credit: CEU/Peter Rakossy

Sustainable CEU will host a variety of Earth Day events this week. For more information, visit: and see