New England’s Answer to National Sustainability Initiatives

Jo Anne Shatkin

CLF and CLF Ventures are proud to again co-sponsor the third annual Massachusetts Sustainable Economy Conference (SEC), April 30 at the Federal Reserve in Boston. I invite you to please come to the panel discussion I will moderate on the opportunities and barriers involved in cultivating Boston’s and the region’s urban agricultural sector, with some of the area’s leading entrepreneurs.

The brainchild of CLF Ventures Board Member Crystal Johnson, the Sustainable Economy Conference is an unparalleled opportunity to build bridges within and across Massachusetts’ government, business, academic, nonprofit, and community sectors to foster sustainable communities and a viable 21st century economy. CLF and CLF Ventures are working to address barriers to the growth of urban and regional sustainable agriculture from market and policy perspectives. At CLF, we view sustainable agriculture in our cities and our region as a key component of a more carbon-resilient future for our region in the face of unprecedented climate change and its threats to our economy and way of life. We’ve met many compatriots at past Sustainable Economy Conferences and look forward to a great conversation about urban agriculture with panelists:

As a founding board member of the national Stewardship Action Council, I was fortunate to also participate in last week’s 25th anniversary celebration of the Toxics Release Inventory and Environmental Conditions in Communities Conference, a gathering of national public and private leaders in sustainability. Before my panel discussion about building collaborative partnerships among state, non-governmental, and industry partners within the Stewardship Action Council, four members discussed how they interact with communities:

  • Mike Wendt of 3M explained that “a crisis is a bad time to make new friends,” so at his Menomonie, Wisconsin facility, community engagement is embedded in the culture.
  • Annette Russo of Johnson & Johnson described their new Procurement Sustainability Initiative to ensure their entire supply chain is focused on sustainable solutions for ingredients and packaging.
  • West Liberty Foods HR Director Tara Lindsey linked that organization’s renovation of a neglected church into a day care facility as an initiative that both fostered employee retention within the company and benefited the community.

Stewardship Action Council members also had an opportunity to weigh in on EPA’s role in promoting sustainability leadership with Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Office of Policy Vicki Corman. It’s a sign of the changing times that industry, at least those leading organizations participating in SAC, are ahead of EPA in adopting measurement and reporting initiatives. EPA can provide national leadership and guidance to advance the practice of environmental stewardship, but would only confuse the marketplace if they were to develop their own standards in the already crowded voluntary sustainability standard realm. In our development of measurements for “Level 4” membership in the Stewardship Action Council, we identified over 200 “standards” under the umbrella of sustainability reporting.

The demand for sustainable solutions will be drivers for the 21st century economy. The third annual Sustainable Economy Conference is designed to:

  • Provide a platform to discuss new collaborations and partnerships for sustainable solutions within and across sectors
  • Serve as a resource on cutting edge “sustainable thinking” through experiences, case studies, and showcases
  • Promote diversity and inclusion to improve business performance in Massachusetts
  • Provide effective tools and approaches for meeting the challenges of the changing global market and encouraging businesses to meet the new market expectations
  • Promote an equitable and ecologically sustainable economy

I look forward to meeting you there.

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