That's the focus of my chat today with Kauai's new Mayor, Bernard Carvalho, who has staked out an aggressive 5-point mission for his 2-year term.
And, yup, sustainability is one of the five focus areas in Carvalho's "Report Card" on progress since taking office last December.
According to Carvalho,Â "investments must be made in protecting our natural resources and moving the needle on sustainability."
Carvalho's go-to leader in sustainability matters, Beth Tokioka, has helped steer County government toward faster implementation of energy, transport, food and building initiatives, now with added boost from Obama's stimulus package. So what else should be done?
Already, Carvalho lists a series of sustainability-related projects, including:
- siting a new landfill
- piloting a curbside recycling program
- launching a planning process on energy sustainability
- retrofitting County facilities with solar power systems
- adopting an energy conservation building code
- exploring methane capture at the landfill
- expanding space for community gardens
- expanding the Kauai Bus
So far, so good!
Still, we'll be talking about how sustainability thinking changes everything about the way we do government, and how business-as-usual is the enemy as we rethink and re-invent our island support systems.
Here, three themes stand out:
Now that it's clear we need to act quickly, it becomes more urgent to think clearly about what we can and must do to accelerate the transition to sustainability.
Many of the County projects were conceived before we started thinking about the system dynamics and interconnections, and even these initiatives need to be reconsidered to ensure we're not pushing "fixes that fail".
[For example, the County will spend nearly as much on a study of Poipu beach erosion as on the energy sustainability plan.]
Nor do we have a multi-stakeholder process for identifying promising new projects than can accelerate our sustainability transition.
Of course, the Mayor's 'gets' that the County can't do this alone. Yet, Carvalho (like Obama) can play a key role in bolstering our sense of common purpose.
Tough times are coming down on Carvalho's 'watch', and I'm down for helping the Mayor forge and articulate our sustainability mission any way I can.