As the world celebrated the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Valley residents also had a reason to celebrate.
To commemorate Earth Day, Valley Forward was once again at the forefront of the sustainability movement in the state — hosting their Seventh Annual Livability Summit at the Wyndham Phoenix.
The title of the program, “What Does the Future Hold for Sustainability?”, proved to be a launching pad for intelligent and interesting observations from speakers, panelists and attendees.
The event began with a welcome from Valley Forward president and Green Scene guest blogger, Diane Brossart, followed by Jeanne Forbis, Valley Forward Association Chair of the Board and Global Corporate Affairs Communication Manager at Intel Corporation. Ms. Forbis introduced the morning keynote speaker: James Charlier, an expert in smart growth strategies and sustainable transportation systems. Mr. Charlier gave a lively, informative presentation before turning to the morning’s panelists to continue the discussion.
The panel titled: “How to Ensure a Sustainable Future for our Region” was comprised of:
Sue Clark Johnson | ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy
Paul Newman | Arizona Corporation Commisioner
Shannon Scutari | Arizona Department of Transportation
Mo Mukibi Jr., Ph.D. | CH2M Hill
|Mayor Phil Gordon announced the City of Phoenix received a $25 million federal grant for its Green Rail Corridor project.|
Each panelist offered their own unique perspective about the challenges Arizona faces in planning for a sustainable future. The lively debate then extended to the audience who asked some interesting questions.
For a complete list of all the speaker’s presentations visit Valley Forward’s website.
The summit was headlined by keynote speaker Jeremy Rifkin, renowned economic futurist and sustainability expert who wowed the audience with his incredible knowledge and experience. As president of the Foundation of Economic Trends and the author of 17 best-selling books on the impact and technological changes on the economy, workforce, society and environment, Rifkin is a seasoned voice in the field. Rifkin used his own experience as founder and chairperson of the Third Industrial Revolution Global CEO Business Roundtable to enlighten the crowd with some ideas about a possible sustainable future for Arizona. During his speech, Rifkin gave examples of several European countries that have already implemented astounding sustainable economic plans that can serve as a great example for the U.S. and for Arizona.
Rifkin’s compelling presentation got everyone thinking and emphasized the critical juncture we’re facing. He noted that we are at the turning point of our species or the “end of human civilization as we know it.” Rifkin further explained his reasoning by pointing out that we are living off 19th and 20th century ideas that are toxic to the biosphere challenges we face as a global society. The premise behind the Third Industrial Revolution is to harness smart technologies and global communication networks to create a renewable energy regime. Renewable energy and its growth is critical as well as harnessing this power by converting buildings into power plants. Lastly hydrogen storage, smartgrid and plug-in vehicles will maximize renewable energy and minimize cost.
|Author and economic futurist Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends delivered the luncheon keynote and signed copies of his book, “The Empathetic Civilization.”|
Just hearing his thought-provoking ideas was incredibly inspiring. Implementing these ideas won’t be easy but Rifkin is optimistic that as more and more cities across the globe change their viewpoint and see the economic vitality sustainability can bring, a so-called “revolution” will take place.
Overall, the summit was an incredibly successful event. In addition, to the panel discussion, Valley Forward also hosted a resource area that spotlighted local initiatives for environmental concerns and sustainability issues. The organization was also proud to once again partner with the 2010 Future City Competition for 7th and 8th grade students, with winning students from Cochise Middle School attending the summit.