Yesterday I attended a program hosted at the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers on the topic of how environmental philanthropy can benefit from public-private partnerships. Key speakers included Rohit T. Aggarwala, Director of New York City's Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability, Michael Northrop, Director of the Sustainable Development grantmaking program at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Sam Marks, manager of the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation's community development grants budget.
An interesting point that everyone in the room seemed to agree upon is the need for partnerships between local, state decision-makers and those at the federal level. The program speakers stressed that the idea of partnership is key because it is practical and effective. Some of the organizations working on this is the Georgetown Climate Center, Center for Climate Strategies, Climate Communities and ICLEI. There are a lot that mayors and governors can do to promote environmental policies, and it would be most helpful if their work could influence Washington, D.C.
Some of the key New York City efforts to address climate change include the University Challenge, the greening of Broadway, and the million trees project. Mr. Aggarwala also mentioned that the city is looking into greening hospitals and black cars, establishing a green codes task force and a lighting program that would provide an energy efficiency training and support system for light workers.
There are a lot of ways that local decision-makers can make their cities and states more environmentally conscious. I think that federal leaders will need to increasingly turn their gaze downwards to see how these local initiatives can take a step towards national policies.
The great part about programs like this is that it draws in people from different sides of the equation to learn from one another and to engage in a productive dialogue.