In partnership with Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse, the Syracuse Environmental Finance Center (EFC) facilitated and co-hosted the first-ever national Community Summit on Green Infrastructure in Syracuse in October at the SUNY-ESF Gateway Center. The Summit brought together delegates from EPA-identified Green Infrastructure Partner Communities and Green Infrastructure Technical Assistance Communities, as well as other metropolitan areas making advancements in stormwater management across the country.
The goal for the Summit was to illustrate the role and value of green infrastructure (GI) in communities across the country, accelerating GI as a method of choice for stormwater management and taking the EPA-GI Community Partnership to the next level.
The Summit unfolded over a day and a half, and was organized around five key thematic areas refined during numerous discussions with the EPA through the summer. The themes were green infrastructure project and program development, innovative financing approaches, operation and maintenance, performance monitoring and new technologies, and promoting adoption through public outreach and education. For each topic, facilitated dialogue focused on the benefits, challenges, and opportunities that green infrastructure presents to different types of communities. Baltimore, Lancaster, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh and others all played leadership roles throughout the event, presenting community case studies or panel remarks to provide benchmarks for discussions.
Several key EPA officials participated in the Summit, including Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, who provided closing remarks on the first day; Acting Assistant Administrator for Water, Nancy Stoner; Special Advisor to the Administrator for Environmental Justice, Lisa Garcia; Region 2 Administrator, Judith Enck; National Green Infrastructure Coordinator, Chris Kloss; and Clean Water Division Director for Region 2, Joan Matthews. A press conference was held at the Summit wherein the EPA released its 2013 Green Infrastructure Strategic Agenda.
There were also observers in attendance, including faculty and students from the Syracuse area, additional EPA officials, New York State representatives, local and regional governments, some members of the trade media, and national and local NGOs. Observers submitted written questions and ideas, all of which will be included in a final report.
The Summit was the brainchild of Matt Millea, Onondaga County’s Deputy County Executive for Physical Services. It was modeled after programs such as the United Nations’ Environmental Program and the National Academy of Sciences’ National Conference on Science, Policy, and the Environment.
Best management practices that emerged from the Summit are currently being compiled into a recommendations report by Syracuse EFC. The report will be available to communities across the country who are either unfamiliar with GI, or are seeking best management practices, with the goal of accelerating the adoption of GI across the country. The report will be available for download on Syracuse EFC website in the coming months.