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Sustainability + Climate Action Plans

Process Design, Public Outreach & Capacity Building

Association for Conflict Resolution Environment and Public Policy Conference: University of Denver

Denver, CO

In June 2009, Darin Dinsmore of Sustainable Community Strategies and Patrick Wright of the Tahoe California Conservancy led a workshop on “Developing your Regional Sustainability and Climate Action Plan – the Tahoe Case Study.” This was part of the Association for Conflict Resolution Environment and Public Policy Conference.  The focus of the conference was “Managing Climate Change through Collaborative Governance: Addressing Policy Challenges Globally and Locally.” The Conference brought together individuals in the fields of environmental conflict resolution, collaborative decision-making, and deliberative democracy, with business, public/non-profit, scientists, and public officials from all levels of government. Conference goals included sharing of knowledge, lessons learned, and transferable models, and exploration of innovative new strategies to further the use of consensus-building, collaboration, and conflict resolution to address climate change. The gathering was intended to serve not just as a stand-alone event, but also as the foundation and catalyst for establishing new collaborative efforts to address this global imperative.

Darin and Patrick’s session focused on Tools for Addressing Bi-State Climate Change: The Lake Tahoe Study. Twenty years ago Lake Tahoe was at the forefront of environmental planning. Today, the Region is struggling to make its communities more sustainable and preserve Lake Tahoe’s famed blue waters, while facing an unprecedented threat from climate change.  With aging and under-utilized urban areas, limited transportation alternatives and increasing concern over the future of the Lake, all acknowledge the need to redevelop and reconfigure the Region’s communities and transportation infrastructure. But how do we get there from here while dealing with climate awareness, protection and prevention and adaptation? Reducing GHG emissions is a shared responsibility involving public land managers, local jurisdictions, transportation agencies, land use planning jurisdictions, residents, and businesses working together to minimize impacts.  Between 2008 and 2009 a massive collaborative effort was undertaken with over 20 parties. The two part presentation focused on: 1) a summary of recently passed CA legislation regarding climate change, 2) applying best practices in climate change and sustainability frameworks to the Region with a focus on collaboration at four levels of government. The session provided practical, usable information and lessons for conference participants and will explore unique types of collaborative tools and case studies.

A variety of strategies and tools were used including:

  • Developing grassroots sustainable community visions and action plans
  • Joint public education, awareness and capacity building
  • Engaging business leaders early and making the business case for dealing with climate change
  • A draft Regional Climate Action Plan Framework was created to focus efforts of all partners
  • A Lake Tahoe Climate Action Agreement was developed to specifically address local issues and to provide focus for immediate action
  • A community enhancement program was developed to leverage private investment for addressing walkability, energy efficiency and climate protection


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