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Hawai‘i Stands United on Sustainability and Climate Change Preparedness

August 5, 2014
Governor Neil Abercrombie , Maui Weekly

I would like to extend a warm mahalo to Mayors Arakawa, Caldwell, Carvalho and Kenoi for joining me and Office of Hawaiian Affairs leadership in signing the "Aloha+ Challenge: A Culture of Sustainability" declaration on July 7 at the State Capitol.

Unanimously passed by the state Legislature through resolution this year, this statewide joint leadership commitment, now signed by our state's chief executives, sets six clear targets by 2030 that transcend political timelines with a vision that calls upon us to take action now:

1.Clean Energy: 70 percent clean energy--40 percent from renewables and 30 percent from efficiency (reinforcing the Hawai'i Clean Energy Initiative)

Article Photos

OHA Chief Executive Officer Kamana‘opono Crabbe (left to right) and Mayors Kirk Caldwell, Billy Kenoi, Bernard Carvalho and Alan Arakawa recently joined Gov. Neil Abercrombie in signing the Aloha+ Challenge declaration.

2.Local Food: At least double local food production--20 to 30 percent of food consumed is grown locally

3.Natural Resource Management: Reverse the trend of natural resource loss mauka to makai by increasing freshwater security, watershed protection, community-based marine management, invasive species control and native species restoration

4.Waste Reduction: Reduce the solid waste stream prior to disposal by 70 percent through source reduction, recycling, bioconversion and landfill diversion methods

5.Smart Sustainable Communities: Increase livability and resilience in the built environment through planning and implementation at state and county levels

6.Green Workforce and Education: Increase local green jobs and education to implement these targets

Furthermore, in addition to expanding partnerships, we have agreed to develop a joint system of tracking progress and to increase long-term financing mechanisms for conservation and sustainability programs geared towards reaching our goals.

When I recently participated in a panel discussion at the 22nd Hawai'i Conservation Conference in Honolulu, I touched on these details and also shared an update from President Obama's Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

I am honored that the president appointed me to the task force, which held its first meeting in December. At that meeting, Hawai'i immediately emerged as a leader when we presented a comprehensive report on our state's approach to adaptation, titled "Navigating Change." We showed up prepared and ready to provide a strong voice for Hawai'i on how best to partner with federal agencies to address the impacts of climate change.

The task force has met regularly over the last six months, and major issues were raised from the critical importance of water and watershed management for climate adaptation, to the threat of invasive species and how it is exacerbated by climate change. Hawai'i's "Rain Follows the Forest" program was recognized as a model for protecting water supplies, as were the Hawai'i Invasive Species Council and island Invasive Species Committees for provided working models for coordinated response.

The White House has since responded with an announcement on federal investments that focus on a National Disaster Resilience Competition for funding, as well as grants for green infrastructure, localized data and mapping, partnerships to integrate traditional ecological knowledge, and coastal management and planning--a number of areas where Hawai'i is demonstrating leadership.

The task force is drafting its final recommendations to present to President Obama this fall. In the meantime, I invite Maui Weekly readers to examine our state's "Navigating Change" report at (click on "Navigating Climate Change").

At the time of the Aloha+ Challenge declaration signing, Mayor Arakawa stated: "The Aloha+ Challenge is about leading by example. Our goal is to provide a higher quality of life for our children, and to build a community for our grandchildren that they can be proud of."

As a microcosm of the world's sustainability challenges, it is time for Hawai'i to become a global model of how to develop innovative and collaborative solutions. I am pleased to report, together as one state, we are showing bold leadership.



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