Crossroads for sustainability


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Crossroads for sustainability

  1. 1. CROSSROADS FOR SUSTAINABILITY: SILO OR SYSTEMS APPROACH? Sarah James Co-Director, Institute for Ecomunicipalities Cambridge, MA www.instituteforecomunicipalities
  3. 3. Sustainable DevelopmentAccomplishments
  4. 4. Time is running out• …”We have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change…no more than a decade at most.” (Director, NASA Goddard Center)• 10-30% of species threatened with extinction due to human actions (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment)• To attain sustainability, we need to reduce energy and resource consumption by 90 % (Wuppertal Institute)
  5. 5. But...Systematic Change Can Happen QuicklyMap Credit: SeKom
  6. 6. Eco-municipalities are emerging in… Sweden Europe Japan USA Canada KurdistanSouth America Africa New Zealand
  7. 7. Eco-municipality Accomplishments Healthy communities Green building Community revitalizationAlternatives to cars Eco-teams Using waste as a resource Historic preservation
  8. 8. City of Umeå – 95 % fossil fuel reduction • 100,000 pop. • Heat & power generated from city solid waste • Dramatic reduction in city landfill & fuel costs • Heat & power plant – 99.5% efficiency rateBikes & pedestrians only - no cars -in Umeå’s city center.
  9. 9. Town of Övertorneå – first eco- municipality in Sweden •Created over 300 sustainable micro-enterprises •Reversed downward economy to thriving sustainable economy •Region became national center for organic agriculture •National recognition as healthiest community in Sweden •Municipal government is 100% free of fossil fuels in its operations
  10. 10. Malmö – 96 % recycling rate Population: 286,500Photos
  11. 11. Eskilstuna’s ‘non-toxic’ school
  12. 12. GreenZone Eco-Business Park, Umeå GreenZone
  13. 13. Keys to Systems Success• Training of municipal staff in use of sustainability objectives• Systematic use of common sustainability objectives throughout government & community• Strategic, participatory implementation approach
  14. 14. A Municipal ‘Tree’ A city, or town, is a complex system
  15. 15. The Eco-municipality Sustainability Objectives• Also the four guiding sustainability objectives of APA’s Planning for Sustainability Policy Guide (2000)• Officially adopted by elected officials as guiding municipal policy• Based upon science & natural laws• Derived from the Natural Step’s system conditions for a sustainable society
  16. 16. 1. Use approaches thatS3 reduce dependence on fossil fuels, underground . metals, minerals. PV solar panels at Warwick Veterans High School, Warwick, RIPhoto credit: RI State Energy Office Hull, MA Wind Turbine Non-phosphorus detergents Commuting via Minuteman Bike Path, Cambridge- Bedford, MA
  17. 17. Slide 16S3 Any, 1/10/2008
  18. 18. 2. Use approaches that reduce dependence upon synthetic chemicals and other unnatural substances. CT first state to ban pesticide/ herbicide use on school grounds Chemical-free dry cleaning, Arlington, MA
  19. 19. 3. Use approaches that reduce encroachment upon nature.GreenZone Eco-Business Park, Umea Green roof at a Harvard dorm Narragansett, RI LEED Platinum home Photo credit: USGBCRI
  20. 20. 4. Use approaches that meet human needsfairly & efficiently. White Gate Farm, East Lyme, CT Photo credit: Green & affordable housing, Erie-Ellington Homes, Dorchester, MA
  21. 21. The Eco-municipality Sustainability ObjectivesUse approaches that… 1. Reduce dependence upon fossil fuels, underground metals & minerals. 2. Reduce dependence upon synthetic chemicals & other unnatural substances. 3. Reduce encroachment upon nature (land, water, wildlife, forests, soils). 4. Meet human needs (ours and future generations) fairly & efficiently.
  22. 22. THE 4 SUSTAINABILITY OBJECTIVESA Municipal Tree The Systems Approach, using the sustainability objectives
  23. 23. Official Endorsement of Sustainability Objectives• City council & mayor• Board of Supervisors• Board of Selectmen
  24. 24. Sustainability education –municipal employees and citizens Trained 1000s of municipal staff Community sustainability education • Creates shared understanding of sustainability and principles • All staff - and citizens - “rowing in the same direction”
  25. 25. Participation in Sustainable Strategy Development • Department staff who do the work are the “experts” • Community residents are “experts” about living in the community • Local institutions
  26. 26. The sustainabilitystrategic planningprocess C. Creating the VisionD. DevelopingAction Plan B. Baseline AnalysisA. Awareness/education
  27. 27. The Different Phases of a Transition System Change Stabilization Acceleration TimeRene Kemp, Jan Rotmans, Managing Societal Transitions, 2003
  28. 28. Eco-municipalities in the U.S. Ashland Washburn Bayfield Red Cliff Tribe Bad River TribeChequamegon Bay Region, WI City of Madison, WI Concord, MALawrenceTownship, NJ City of Portsmouth, NH Photo credit:
  29. 29. U.S. Eco-municipality Initiatives June, 2005 – present Official Resolutions: Emerging: City of Ashland, WI Baraboo, WI Lawrence Township, NJ City of Bayfield, WI City of Beloit, WI Vandergrift, PA Town of Bayfield, WI Village of Colfax, WI Corvallis, OR City of Washburn, WI Town of Cottage Grove, WI City of Madison, WI City of Eau Claire, WI City of Duluth, MN City of Manitowoc, WI Village of Johnson City of Menasha, WI Creek, WI Town of Menasha, WI City of Marshfield, WI City of Sheboyan WI City of La Crosse, WI City of Spring Green, WI City of Marshfield, WI City of Wausau, WI Douglas County, WI Portsmouth, NH Dunn County, WI Concord, MA La Crosse County, WI Cable, WI City of Neenah, WI Stevens Point, WIWeb sites:; go to Ecomunicipalities Page
  30. 30. First International Ecomunicipality Conference Helsingborg, Sweden – May, 2008
  31. 31. The Natural Step for Communities:How Cities & Towns Can Change to Sustainable Practices by Sarah James & Torbjörn
  32. 32. Open Planning for Sustainability by Sarah James & Philip HerrThe “how-to” manualfor guiding acommunity-basedsustainable planning downloadable at:process
  33. 33. Institute for Eco- MunicipalityEducation & Assistance Sarah James Co-Director Torbjorn Lahti Co-Director