Sustainability summit set for March

  • Mitch Roth

A sustainability summit, bringing in experts to brainstorm with elected officials and the public, is one of seven campaign promises Mayor Mitch Roth made for his first 100 days in office.

The summit, to be staged one day in Hilo and one day in Kona with most participants appearing online, has been scheduled for March 4 and 5, executive assistant Kate Logan told a County Council panel Tuesday.

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“Knowing how important sustainability issues matter to people on Hawaii Island, Mayor Roth prioritized holding a sustainability summit in his first 100 days,” Logan told the council Government Operations, Relations, and Economic Development Committee. “It’s intended to bring bright minds together develop a portfolio of actionable strategies that will help Hawaii Island address issues such as protecting our fragile environment, food security, renewable energy, sea level rise and threats to our reefs while identifying ways our island can become more self-sustainable.”

Logan said the summit will cover 12 topics ranging from sustainable tourism to food security, waste management, sustainable agriculture and technology, among others. It will also highlight the Aloha+ Challenge, a statewide commitment to achieve Hawaii’s sustainability goals, and locally driven framework to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, according to its website.

Puna Councilman Matt Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder, the only council member to comment after Logan’s presentation, praised the project and said he hopes there will be a greater commitment to sustainability.

“It sounds great to me,” he said, adding he hopes the sustainability action committee housed in the Department of Research and Development will also be activated. “There was some resistance last administration about getting that moving,” he said.

Roth’s other major 100-day goal is to create an economic plan for COVID-19 recovery, with help from the island’s many chambers of commerce. Other goals include streamlining permit process, get shovel-ready projects going, strengthen the county’s capacity to secure additional revenue sources besides taxes and address critical infrastructure such as wastewater, landfill and recycling, roads, public transportation and broadband capacity.

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Roth’s first campaign promise, to appoint a cabinet representative of the entire island, is well underway, with council confirmations that began Tuesday and are expected to be completed by early February. Roth’s 100-day anniversary lands on March 17.

“What’s important is we have a county that’s working together moving forward. (We’re) striving to help build a county that helps people thrive and succeed,” Roth told a County Council panel Tuesday, repeating an oft-stated mantra.

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