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Earth Day: 3 Important Takeaways from the 2015 Sustainability Survey


April 22, 2016, is the 46th anniversary of Earth Day, the worldwide celebration of environmental protection efforts. Communities spend this day hosting events to educate citizens about environmental issues and how to promote sustainability in their daily lives.  Check out how these communities are celebrating Earth Day.

At ICMA we are constantly monitoring the state of sustainability in local government. So in partnership with Sustainable Communities and small town and rural planning divisions of the American Planning Association, Binghamton University, Cornell University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we launched the 2015 Local Government Sustainability Practices Survey. We are celebrating Earth Day by highlighting 3 interesting takeaways from the survey findings:

MOTIVATION

What motivates a municipality to develop a sustainability plan?  According to the survey respondents, the two biggest factors are fiscal savings and leadership from local elected officials.  The survey also found that the biggest hurdle to sustainability efforts is lack of funding, which makes developing a plan that weighs benefits against costs and considers new funding sources all that more critical. Here are some ideas on overcoming the funding gap in recycling programs.

BIKING/WALKING TRAILS

Of respondents, 63.5% have adopted or added walking and biking trails in the past five years.  According to a recent study, Designed to Move: A Guide for City Leaders, expansions in trails can lead to economic, safety, environmental, social, and health benefits. Will local governments continue to focus on trail expansion in the future?

SOURCES OF INFORMATION

The survey shows that local leaders place the highest importance on sources of sustainability strategies from local, regional, or national environmental groups, and examples from other municipalities.  Did you know we have such sources spread throughout the Knowledge Network?  The best way to access these sources is by checking out the healthy living, brownfields, climate change, resilience, solar energy, and sustainability topic pages.  

 

Read the Leadership Matters article Nearly a Third of Local Governments Have Adopted Sustainability Plans for more information on the survey results. For the latest information in sustainability check out ICMA’s Center for Sustainable Communities website. 

 

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Douglas Shontz

Knowledge Network Research and Content Development Associate