A new Sustainability Planning Toolkit released by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA establishes for the first time the best practices to develop a local sustainability plan. This toolkit fills a major need: Across the United States, a rapidly growing number of cities, towns, and counties are eager to create sustainability plans or expand the scope of existing plans, but find the task daunting and disorganized, and lacking standardized methods and metrics.
With ICLEI’s toolkit, jurisdictions of all sizes can now follow a proven, straightforward, and flexible process to create long-term sustainability plans that bring together their individual environmental, economic, and social initiatives under one holistic vision.
The toolkit, which has been developed for ICLEI’s 600 U.S. local government members, is based on the planning model pioneered by City of New York for its renowned PlaNYC sustainability plan. The toolkit was authored by ICLEI and developed through a close collaboration between ICLEI and the City of New York’s Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability.
“ICLEI launched the first global initiative to develop the methods and tools for local sustainability planning in 1992 at the United Nations’ “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro. Since that time, ICLEI has supported thousands of local governments in scores of countries to develop their customized approaches for putting the complex goal of sustainability into local practice,” said Jeb Brugmann, ICLEI Global’s founder and current Executive Director of ICLEI USA. “This toolkit draws from the most recent best practices in the United States to help cities and counties take their sustainability planning efforts to the next level. With a sustainability plan to guide their actions, cities like New York, Minneapolis, Santa Monica, and many others have shown that they can more effectively combat climate change, green their buildings, update infrastructure, invigorate their local economies, and improve public health and quality of life for their community members.”
“Our message to all local governments is that the secret to a successful sustainability plan is a rigorous planning process,” added Brugmann, “and this toolkit walks local governments through what can be a very complex process.”
To reach their chosen sustainability goals, local governments can follow ICLEI’s Five Milestones for Sustainability process, which is the foundation of the toolkit:
Milestone One: Conduct a sustainability assessment
Milestone Two: Establish sustainability goals
Milestone Three: Develop a local sustainability plan
Milestone Four: Implement policies and measures
Milestone Five: Evaluate progress and report results
By following this process, local governments can create plans with strong, measurable goals that can be tracked over time. The ability to measure performance has been a key to the success of PlaNYC.
“PlaNYC is not a report. It is an implementation tool that was the outcome of a comprehensive planning process to create a greener, greater New York,” said Rohit T. Aggarwala, Director, City of New York Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. “We hope our model is useful to other cities and provides a framework to create sustainability plans with measurable goals and objectives.”
In order to ensure the PlaNYC model was replicable for a range of large and small communities, ICLEI partnered with New Rochelle, NY and Miami-Dade County, FL to pilot the guidelines in the toolkit. “The Sustainability Planning Toolkit provided us with a proven process for developing a sustainability plan, and helped us to understand how New York’s planning process could work in a city of our size,” said Mayor Noam Bramson of New Rochelle, NY.
Inside the toolkit, local government staff will find guidance on how to structure their planning process, what types of strategies and measures to include in their plan, step-by-step guidelines to achieve each of the Five Milestones, best-practice examples, checklists, templates, and guidelines for organizing a team to develop the plan.
The Sustainability Planning Toolkit is the first of two major sustainability resources offered by ICLEI USA. The STAR Community Index, to be launched in 2011, is a national, consensus-based framework for gauging the sustainability and livability of U.S. communities. STAR will build on the Five Milestones for Sustainability by providing a comprehensive set of goals and measures that standardize how we plan and manage for sustainability at the local level. A soft launch of the set of municipal goals that will comprise this new framework is set for early 2010. It is being developed through a robust stakeholder process of more than 165 volunteers representing 135 organizations, including 60 cities and 10 counties.
Don Knapp, Senior Communications Officer
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Annie Strickler, Communications Director