Just as the definition of sustainability often depends on who you are, the specifics of sustainability are highly variable depending upon where you are. From energy and air to water to land use and transportation – and beyond – economic, environmental and social sustainability are as much local issues as they are global.
Take water – arguably our most precious natural resource – for example. Water wars are common across the country, but the science, law and politics of the battles are different in every region. While there are best practices to be shared, there simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to how best to steward and allocate our limited water supply.
Approaches to energy are similarly inconsistent across the country, shaped by history, geography, available resources and policy. And as much as our national transportation infrastructure is woven together by highways, airports and rail, the nature of mobility varies not only state-by-state but within states.
Fortunately in Georgia we benefit from at least two programs that convene business, civic, political, advocacy, regulatory, community and other leaders to focus on our most pressing environmental sustainability issues.
The Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership (IGEL) annually engages a diverse class of environmental leaders to gain a deeper understanding of our state’s challenges and opportunities. About 30 people spend multiple days together in sessions in various locations around Georgia in which they can safely explore concepts and offer differing views. The end of the class year is just the beginning of joining an ever-growing network of leaders who share a common experience – a place to begin dialogue even if from opposite points of view on difficult issues. I count myself as fortunate to have been a member of IGEL’s fifth class.
I also feel fortunate to serve on the steering committee for the Georgia Environmental Conference, now in its eighth year.
From Wednesday afternoon, August 21 through Friday morning, August 23 – this year on Jekyll Island – an estimated 500 government, industry, academic, legal, engineering, architectural, agricultural, energy, water, public health, waste and recycling, and many other leaders will participate in 50 educational sessions entirely focused on Georgia. There is simply no other gathering like it in our state.
I will have the opportunity at the conference to convene a discussion of media coverage of our most pressing environmental issues. The session panel will include the editors-in-chief of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Savannah Morning News – and a national sustainability blogger. If you have ideas for questions for these journalists, please write to me at email@example.com. I hope to see you at the conference.