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Maui Sustainability Briefing

Hawai‘i Green Growth partners set ambitious targets to build a more secure, sustainable and resilient state economy by 2030.

August 26, 2014
Jay Greathouse & Liz O’Garvey - Contributing Writer , Maui Weekly

The County of Maui, Susty Pacific and Hawai'i Green Growth (HGG) co-hosted the Maui Sustainability Briefing on the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 20, at Maui Tropical Plantation. The briefing was held to provide a summary of statewide initiatives, highlight Maui's successes and to share information about the island's leadership role in statewide and international initiatives.

The event included a series of short conference-style presentations with time for an informal talk story at the end.

The event opened with a pule by Alika Atay: "Here we are the flowers. Here we are the children of Maui. Children of Maui began. Children of the sea."

Article Photos

Mayor Alan Arakawa spoke about “the big jigsaw puzzle that we call Maui County” at the Maui Sustainability Briefings on Wednesday, Aug. 20, at the Maui Tropical Plantation. Panelists included (left to right) Jacqueline Kozak Thiel, Audrey Newman, the mayor, Rob Parsons and Alika Atay.

Jennfer Chirico of Susty Pacific emceed the event.

"My business partner, Kainoa Casco, and I serve on the advisory committee as 100 percent volunteers for the Hawai'i Green Growth Sustainability Measures," said Chirico. "We were asked to be on the committee, since our business consulting work is based on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and we largely focus on developing sustainability reports compliant with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reports, and sustainability metrics/indicators for organizations/companies to track progress... that is what the state is trying to do: develop sustainability metrics and track them transparently for the public."

Chirico then introduced Maui Tropical Plantation Chef Marc McDowell, who, in his welcome message, shared his vision for "something near and dear to my heart--sustainability." Chef Marc then spoke of his passion for local organic foods, recycling, gardening, food scrap management and responsible packaging.

"I want all Maui products or from our fellow islands," Chef Marc said. "That's how I live. That's how we are here. If something can't be produced from scratch, we don't have it on our menus."

He was followed by Audrey Newman of HGG and Global Island Partnership, who commented on HGG and the Statewide Sustainability Network.

"We're so inspired by what's happening on Maui, and look forward to working with Maui County and community partners to achieve the goals of the Aloha+ Challenge," Newman said.

The Aloha+ Challenge is a shared statewide commitment to 2030 sustainability targets.

Newman added, "The breakthrough solutions for sustainability will come from looking at food, water, energy and environment together."

Jacqueline Kozak Thiel, Hawai'i State Sustainability coordinator, made a brief presentation regarding the Aloha+ Challenge and Sustainability Measures. She emphasized our unique position in the Hawaiian Islands for leading the way for sustainability.

"This is a great time for Hawai'i to shine," Thiel said.

Thiel highlighted the fact of successfully inspiring leadership, catalyzing commitments and successful collaboration throughout all sectors.

"Sustainability is something that ties us all together," she said. "We all have an important seat on the boat."

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa then offered his remarks on Maui's leadership in sustainability.

"We are all involved in the great big jigsaw puzzle that we call Maui County; indeed, in a bigger jigsaw puzzle we call the world," the mayor emphasized. "This involves thousands of pieces that must fit together to make the big picture. Each little piece must be molded to fit together to make Maui County work as an entity. We have to find the pieces that say we can have affordable housing; have enough jobs; have good growth structure; have good wastewater treatment; we can look at our mountains; we can look at our forest areas. All these little pieces we have to put into a giant jigsaw puzzle that works."

Mayor Arakawa later said, "The interesting thing is that the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that are in our box are not fully formed. Each piece has to be manipulated so that the edges shape around, some of the corners cut off, so that the piece will fit where it's supposed to because many of the pieces are evolving as we speak. The environment around where we work changes on a daily basis. All must work together in cohesion."

Hawai'i has an unprecedented opportunity to help highlight and advance the global agenda for greater sustainability, including shared priorities by the U.S. government and Hawai'i's New Day economic plan. As a microcosm for security challenges facing the globe, Hawai'i is in a unique position to build a green economy at a manageable scale with an innovative, integrated multi-sector partnership and work with others to adapt to a changing world. HGG brings Hawai'i leaders from energy, food, water and the environment together to achieve sustainability in Hawai'i and be a model for integrated green growth.

HGG members presented a summary of the Aloha+ Challenge and the Sustainability Measures Start-Up Project, which is developing joint sustainability indicators to track progress on the targets the state has set. Maui presenters from the county and community briefed the attendees on Maui action and progress across key sustainability sectors.

After a short break, Maui County Energy Commissioner Doug McLeod gave a briefing on clean energy.

Then, Gerry Ross of Kupa'a Farms and Maui Farmers Union presented a briefing on local food and farming. Ross showed slides of Kupa'a Farms high tunnel project, where a fine screen has reduced pest infiltration, thereby eliminating the need to use harmful pesticides and allowing him to grow vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.

"We grow a lot more food in a smaller footprint," said Ross.

Ross' passion for farming and commitment to serving his community was clear when he made it his mission to show up at the Upcountry Farmer's Market on Saturday, Aug. 9, at 5 a.m. during Tropical Storm Iselle to sell his organic produce to folks who traveled far and wide expecting to get the food they wanted and needed.

Maui County Environmental Coordinator Rob Parsons gave a presentation on natural resources.

"My role is building and strengthening partnerships," said Parsons.

He continued, "We can't afford not to establish an Environmental Protection Sustainability Division."

Deputy Director of Environment Management Michael M. Miyamoto presented a briefing on the issues involved with waste reduction. The green workforce and education briefing was given by Melanie Stephens of the Sustainable Living Institute of Maui. Gary Bulson of the Hyatt Regency Maui presented a briefing on sustainable tourism and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) in the hospitality industry before a talk story with presenters.

Hawai'i Green Growth Goals

HGG is a voluntary partnership of more than 60 state, county, federal, business and non-governmental leaders from energy, local food, natural resources, waste reduction, planning, green jobs, and other sectors, who are working together for a more resilient, sustainable and secure Hawai'i.

As the most isolated population on the planet, Hawai'i exemplifies the urgent need for action on the global priority for green growth. Hawai'i's people depend on imports for 95 percent of their energy and 85 to 90 percent of their food at an estimated annual cost of $8.6 billion. Hawai'i is also known as a hot spot for biodiversity loss. Like all islands across the Asia Pacific region, Hawai'i will be on the forefront responding to climate change affects.

In support of the New Day Hawai'i plan and the HI 2050 Sustainability Plan, HGG partners set ambitious targets to build a more secure, sustainable and resilient economy for Hawai'i by 2030:

1.Clean energy: 70 percent clean energy--40 percent from renewables and 30 percent from efficiency

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 restoration of native species

4.Waste reduction: Reduce the solid waste stream before 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 the state and county levels

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

HGG has been working closely with Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Hawai'i's four mayors and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs leadership on a shared sustainability commitment called the Aloha+ Challenge. This commitment was formally signed and launched in July by all six chief executives, and Hawai'i will announce this exciting commitment internationally at the third United Nations Small Island Developing States (UNSIDS) meeting in Samoa this September.

Hawai'i is serving as an island example of U.S. commitment to action on integrated green growth at key international events. Hawai'i features a variety of successful large-scale green (and blue) initiatives, including a world-class marine conservation area and international network, 11 watershed partnerships statewide to manage over 2.2 million acres with more than 60 public and private landowners and managers; multi-agency biosecurity programs; and innovative funding mechanisms to support these programs. Hawai'i's host culture provides guiding principles for collaborative action and self-sufficiency.

One of HGG's top priorities is to develop statewide measures to track progress on the six Aloha+ Challenge sustainability targets. In 2014, HGG is holding a briefing and statewide working meeting in each county to develop shared measures for at least two of the six Aloha+ Challenge targets and to build a foundation for a statewide network.

HGG co-hosted a Kaua'i Sustainability Briefing in early June, will co-organize a Hawai'i County Sustainability Briefing in November and has also held Honolulu-based meetings. The group felt it was important to meet and hold briefings in each county for a truly statewide process.

The Sustainability Measures Start-Up Project is funded by each of the counties and several HGG private partners. The Maui Measures meeting is cosponsored by Maui County, Kyo-Ya/Starwood Hotels, and Hawai'i Gas.



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