The 7th Annual Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Summit is Sept. 16 - Sept. 17 at Cleveland Public Auditorium in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Participants will recognize the accomplishments and challenges, gauge the progress and chart the course for the next four years to continue its progress toward a Green City on a Blue Lake.
This year, the summit will highlight the current celebration year of Clean Water, with a look ahead to 2016, the Year of Sustainable Transportation. Jenita McGowan, chief of Sustainability for the City of Cleveland will discuss the key accomplishments in sustainability during opening remarks.
In August 2009 nearly 700 people from across Greater Cleveland gathered at Public Auditorium for a three-day summit focused on “Building an Economic Engine to Empower a Green City on a Blue Lake." The event focused on supporting business growth, protecting the environment and creating opportunities for individuals to prosper.
Conceived by Mayor Frank G. Jackson as a key initiative to position Cleveland for the future, the first summit was a watershed moment in Cleveland history as a diverse group–from CEOs to high school students–shared their dreams of a sustainable city. Through a process known as Appreciative Inquiry (AI) the participants focused on 20 areas including food, water, land and transportation to work on prototypes of that brighter future. The summit was facilitated by Case Western Reserve University, Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit faculty David Cooperrider and Ron Fry, who pioneered AI, and the city of Cleveland’s Office of Sustainability.
At the first summit, Mayor Jackson committed to hosting an annual sustainability summit every year until 2019, the 50th year anniversary of the infamous Cuyahoga River Fire. 2019 is a deadline, an inspiration and a year during which Cleveland will be in the national spotlight and able to tell a story of dramatic transformation.
Sustainable Cleveland, a 10-year initiative, is a community of people from every walk of life working together to reshape Cleveland into a vibrant livable city with thriving businesses and a flourishing natural environment. The initiative provides resources that offer information and actionable tools so Clevelanders can make smart, sustainable choices at home, work and in their community.
Eriksen received his Ph.D. in science education from University of Southern California in 2003, months before embarking on a 2,000-mile, 5-month, journey down the Mississippi River on a homemade raft. His experience on the river led to a career studying the ecological impacts of plastic marine pollution, which has included expeditions sailing 35,000 miles through all 5 subtropical gyres to discover new garbage patches of plastic pollution in the Southern Hemisphere. His first book, “My River Home,” chronicled his Mississippi River experience paralleled with his tour as a Marine in the 1991 Gulf War. Marcus researches and educates on plastic pollution in our waterways, including Lake Erie.
Davis is the founder of Blacks in Green, an award-winning economic development organization based in West Woodlawn, Chicago with a national network. This organization serves as a bridge and catalyst for engaging the community and its stakeholders in the design and development of, “walk-to-work, walk-to-shop, walk-to-learn, and walk-to-play villages” to promote economic development.
There will also be summit innovation sessions that will focus on:
- Climate Resilience in Cleveland
- A New Vision for the Lakefront: Building Connections Between People and the Waterfront
- Scrubbing Lake Erie Clean of Plastics
- Mode Shift: Goals and strategies for big increases in transit and biking
- Clean Energy Financing HUB
- Let's Bring Energy Efficiency to Renters
- Why Water Should Come First for your Thirst
- Rebuilding The Forest City: Implementing the Cleveland Tree Plan
- Connecting Sustainability with Education Curriculum
A Freshwater Innovation Panel organized by the Cleveland Water Alliance will include innovators who are giving Cleveland an edge in the "Blue Economy." Panelists will share their role in positioning Cleveland for a clean water future and talk about:
- Splash Link, a one-stop resource for water funding and expertise
- TLC Products, cleaning water with beneficial bacteria
- University of Akron, role of biomimicry in water innovation
- Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, role with wastewater analysis
- Cleveland Water, helping customers reduce their water use with big data
Every year leading up to 2019, Cleveland focuses on one of the key areas fundamental to a sustainable economy. The Sustainable Cleveland Celebration Years are designed to be accessible to all members of the community—households, neighborhoods, businesses and institutions can all participate, either in collaboration or independently.
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One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
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The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
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