Sustainable Cleveland 2020 Virtual Summit


Recap from the Sustainable Cleveland 2020 Virtual Summit

A big and humble thanks to all who joined us for the two-day Sustainable Cleveland 2020 Virtual Summit from October 14th-15th. Over 500 local residents, business owners, and sustainability leaders around the world participated in this continuing effort to develop a thriving and resilient Cleveland region.


Since 2009, Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s Sustainable Cleveland initiative has engaged more than 15,000 people from all walks of life, working together to design and develop a thriving and resilient Cleveland region. Over the past eleven years, Sustainable Cleveland has supported collaboration and action to make Cleveland a greener, cleaner place to live, work, and play for all. From improved water and air quality to increases in bike infrastructure and clean energy, Sustainable Cleveland has come a long way... but we know there's more work to do.


The Sustainable Cleveland 2020 Virtual Summit included opening remarks from Mayor Frank Jackson, State of Sustainable Address from Chief Jason Wood, Keynote Presentation from Dr. Julian Agyeman and many other facilitated discussions on key sustainable action areas including: 

  • Celebration of Cleveland’s progress in sustainability since 2009
  • Sharing stories of collaboration and action inspired through the SC initiative
  • Recognizing individuals, organizations, and businesses leading by example to advance sustainability in Cleveland
  • Feature keynote presentations focused on creating a more sustainable and equitable economy
  • Advance Cleveland Climate Action Plan priorities that require community-wide action, such as reaching 100% renewable electricity, trees, access to vibrant green space, sustainable transportation, clean water, and creating a circular economy
  • Continue charting our collective path forward for continued engagement in sustainability and climate action


Check out our Summit "By the Numbers" infographic here.


Watch the Recordings

*To access recordings, please click the above link


Below are the breakout sessions from our 2-day Summit. Any resources shared in those presentations are linked to the session.


State of Sustainable Cleveland
The City of Cleveland's Chief of Sustainability, Jason Wood, provides an update on sustainability progress in Cleveland and opportunities to scale up success.


Keynote Presentation: Dr. Julian Agyeman
In this dynamic keynote presentation, Dr. Agyeman outlined the concept of 'Just Sustainabilities' as a response to the 'equity deficit' of much sustainability thinking and practice.


Conversation with Keynote Speaker: Dr. Julian Agyeman
Dr. Julian Agyeman, Professor of Urban & Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University joined participants after lunch to continue the conversation from his keynote presentation focused on Just Sustainabilities in policy, planning, and practice.


Film Screening of Toxic: A Black Woman's Story and Panel Discussion
This session screened the film Toxic: A Black Woman's Story and followed with a panel discussion. In this short film, viewers were invited on a journey of perspective transformation. Follow Nina in this day-in-the-life drama, and see the world through the eyes of a successful black woman who must navigate an unjust world while trying to protect the world she has created for herself and her family. The panel discussion focused on the intersections of racism, health equity, sustainability, and community perception.


Energy Efficiency in a Brave New World
Energy Efficiency is the cleanest and cheapest energy source. In addition to direct financial and positive climate benefits, it comes with other co-benefits such as health, jobs and safety and with equitable outcomes if implemented right. Find out how Energy Efficiency (EE) can continue to play an important role in people’s lives during this COVID pandemic and beyond.


Greater Cleveland Water Equity Partners: Supporting an Equitable Water Future
Ensuring that all people have access to safe, reliable, and affordable water and wastewater systems is the cornerstone of a sustainable and prosperous community. Join the Greater Cleveland Water Equity Partners to learn more about their journey as a collaborative group representing water utilities, non-profit organizations, and community leaders working to improve water equity in Cleveland.


The Circular Economy: Everything Goes Around
A circular economy designs out waste, reuses materials, and regenerates nature. Mark Fisher further defined these principles and provided some examples. Walt Willis from SWALCO introduced his agency in Illinois and how the circular economy is being applied in Lake County. And Aleksandra Brankov introduced us to a new model for coffee drinkers in Cleveland that reduces waste.


Air Quality in Cleveland: A Panel Discussion
Air quality may mean different things to different people within a city or neighborhood. Factors like where you live, your age, your race, your health, and your occupation can significantly impact what comes to mind when you think of air quality. In this panel discussion, you will hear different perspectives on air quality in Cleveland, and learn more about how local agencies and organizations are helping to monitor and improve the air we breathe.


LEED for Cities: How Ohio Municipalities are Measuring Sustainability Progress
How will Sustainable Cleveland know when we’ve become a “green city on a blue lake?” While Cleveland has made big strides in sustainability over the last 11 years, it is important to establish metrics that help us measure this progress and support continued success. In early 2020, the City of Cleveland joined the US Green Building Council’s second cohort of cities to pursue LEED for Cities certification. Like the LEED platform for buildings, LEED for Cities provides a framework for cities to credibly track progress toward overall sustainability objectives and allows for comparison by and among communities around the world.


Urban Drawdown Initiative Capturing Carbon, Creating Opportunity
For cities to meet our carbon reduction goals, we cannot rely on carbon emission reduction strategies alone. Carbon sequestration, especially through the capture and recycling of organic material, is a key way cities like Cleveland will meet their climate action goals.


Plastic Pollution in the Great Lakes
An estimated 10,000 tons of plastic pollution enter the Great Lakes each year. As a consequence, microplastic particles are found in Great Lakes surface water, sediments, and fish. This contamination extends to our local sportfish and drinking water. This talk reviewed what is known about plastic in our Great Lakes and offered some science-based solutions.


Sustainability and Seniors It Never Gets Old
If you are getting older in a city that isn’t accommodating to the unique needs of seniors, you may find it more challenging to age in place. The City of Cleveland’s Department of Aging, through their Age-Friendly Cleveland Plan, is working to address the needs of older adults to successfully age in place.


Vision Zero Cleveland: Safe, Sustainable Streets for All
In 2018, the City of Cleveland and Cleveland City Council established the Vision Zero Task Force, working to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries. The initiative brings together government, relevant agencies and community stakeholders to design safe, healthy and equitable mobility. Anne Tillie, Research and Policy Analyst for Cleveland City Council, provided an overview of the Vision Zero Task Force and shared updates on efforts currently underway. Robert Mavec, Commissioner of Traffic Engineering, and Matt Moss, City Planner, highlighted recent investments and initiatives led by the City of Cleveland which support safe and sustainable transportation for all.


Parks for People Creating Access, Elevating Equity
In 2017, Mayor Jackson joined the 10-Minute Walk Campaign, a national initiative to ensure all residents live within a half-mile, or a 10-minute walk, of a clean, safe park. In Cleveland, 83% of residents have walkable park access. As we work to close the gap and create park access for all residents, it is critical we engage the community around future park investments to ensure the parks truly meet community needs. In this breakout, Jessica Gift from the City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects and Sean Terry from the Trust for Public Land shared highlights on how the City of Cleveland is optimizing park investments and utilizing creative ways to engage the community around parks, even during a pandemic.


Electric Vehicles in Northeast Ohio Back to the Future!
As the demand for electric vehicles continues to rise, it is vital for Cleveland, Northeast Ohio and the state, to be at the forefront of this shift to cleaner on-road transportation, and regain lost ground. City of Cleveland’s Energy Manager, Anand Natarajan, and Energy Analyst, Elizabeth Lehman share the City’s progress on its Climate Action Plan’s sustainable transportation initiatives. Andrew Conley from Clean Fuels Ohio provides an update on the Electric Vehicles (EV) landscape across the state, and shares best practices from cities that are on the cutting edge of this transformation.


Food (in)Security: Combating Hunger and Increasing Local Food Access
While Cleveland is known for its strong food culture, unfortunately, many local families face challenges in accessing fresh, nutritious food. During a pandemic, these challenges are only intensified. In Cleveland, we are fortunate to have a number of dedicated local leaders working to reduce hunger, support our local food system, and increase opportunities for vulnerable residents. We joined representatives from Food Access Raises Everyone (FARE), Garden Valley Neighborhood House, and Refugee Response to learn more about their amazing work to increase access to healthy, local food- before, during, and after the pandemic.


Why It Is Crucial for Black Representation In Sustainability
Join Raina Turner-Greenlea from the Sustainable Community Solutions Network for an informative and interactive breakout session. Attendees will walk away with a culturally relevant perspective of sustainability, why we need more representation of Black/African people in this space, and increased awareness of Black Sustainability practitioners and the Black Sustainability Network. Learn how you can support their work and the planet at the same time.


Grassroots Initiatives Combatting COVID-19
We heard from a number of grassroots groups working to combat the effects of COVID-19 in their communities. Panelists discussed how they have helped reduce social isolation, provided food, and also how they've supported neighbors in other ways. Learn how you might access funding and personal protective equipment (PPE) to do something similar in your neighborhood, town, or city.


Recycling in Cleveland: We Want to Hear from You!
As the City of Cleveland updates its curbside recycling program, it is important we hear from our residents. During this breakout we provided status updates on the program evaluation and opportunities for participants to give input on what they would like to see in future waste reduction and recycling programs. While this breakout was primarily be geared towards the City of Cleveland residents, all were welcome to join, learn more, and share your feedback.


Getting to 100% Clean and Renewable Electricity in Cleveland
In 2018, Cleveland became the first city in the State of Ohio to commit to powering itself with 100% clean and renewable electricity by 2050. As part of this commitment, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability is working collaboratively with local partners to develop an Equitable Clean Energy Implementation Plan that will arm Cleveland residents, stakeholders, and decision makers with the information to transition to 100% clean electricity in an achievable and equitable manner. This plan will incorporate a wide range of locally designed energy efficiency and distributed renewable energy solutions while supporting workforce development and addressing energy burdens. Watch the session to hear as members of the project team discuss the plan and get your input for the future of renewable electricity in Cleveland.


Listening Session: 10-Year Housing and Investment Plan
The City of Cleveland recently launched a 10-Year Housing and Investment Plan to develop a blueprint for housing options and investment tools which will retain and attract residents to Cleveland’s neighborhoods. The goal is to provide every Cleveland household with the opportunity to obtain housing in the private market, and to use housing programs to assist where needed. The 10-Year Housing and Investment Plan engagement team presented this virtual listening session about housing initiatives that are working in Cleveland and which ones could work better.


Cleveland's Green Gold: Our Trees
The Cleveland Tree Plan was approved by the City in 2016. Since that time, the City has lost some of its tree canopy while moving forward with its partners to increase it. In this session, we heard from the Cleveland Tree Coalition and the Chief of Sustainability on the progress made and future plans.


Youth and Sustainability: The Future is Green
At its core, sustainability is all about making things better for future generations. However, as we start to see the environmental, economic, and social impacts of climate change today, our youth are becoming increasingly aware of the threats they are expected to face in their lifetime.


Community Organizing and Engagement: How You Can Get Involved!
Hopefully, during the 2-day Summit participants generated ideas for their community or workplace and were now seeking resources to help move their ideas forward. In this session, Ty Olson introduced representatives from organizations from across the region offering resources for ways for residents to get involved.



Media Coverage

Keynote speaker at Sustainable Cleveland 2020 Virtual Summit says environmental, social justice concerns are connected

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  • Brittany Montgomery