While great strides have been made in the global dialogue on sustainability, local actions and involvement are necessary catalysts for implementing real change. Local leaders are on the frontlines of addressing the impacts of climate change on their communities while at the same time creating green job opportunities, energy savings, and a healthier environment.
Each year in April, Earth Day Network and its partners invite local leaders worldwide to participate in the annual Global Day of Conversation, a platform for leaders to engage with their communities in conversations on challenges and opportunities related to sustainability. These discussions help constituents and other stakeholders achieve a deeper, shared understanding of the complex challenges and opportunities facing the Earth and all its local communities as they strive to build a sustainable future.
Through these dialogues, leaders share best environmental practices, educate the public, and elevate the prominence of local government in the global sustainability dialogue.
In April 2010, in honor of Earth Day, Earth Day Network and its partners ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies worked with over 400 local leaders worldwide to engage their communities in an interactive dialogue on the environment. In 2011, the Global Day of Conversation convened over 500 local leaders around the world. Following these events, Earth Day Network compiled success stories and best practices to share in a report with local governments worldwide.
Mayors and local officials have organized these events globally. Previous Global Day of Conversation dialogues have emphasized issues like climate change, energy efficiency, water reduction, transportation, environmental education, and clean energy jobs and investment. These discussions have often served as launch pads for innovative sustainability strategies. As policy innovators, local leaders can develop solutions that can be scaled to regional, national and international levels.
For example, the Qatar Foundation International hosted a Global Day of Conversation where the Associate Vice Minister for the Environment engaged students in a dialogue on Sustainable Energy and the Green Economy. In Mexico City, the Minister of the Environment conducted a virtual chat dedicated to Earth Day, asking every citizen to connect and participate. In Sunderland UK, the Youth Parliament, in coordination with Earth Day Network, hosted the second annual Sunderland Global Day of conversation with city officials. Topics discussed ranged from renewable energy, fuel efficient cars, and sustainability efforts throughout the city. Sunderland was just recently ranked first for climate change policy planning and second for the ecological footprint in the UK’s The Sustainable Cities Index 2010.
Each year, Earth Day Network encourages, provides tools, and coordinates a global snapshot of these discussions.
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