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Santa Fe gets behind sustainability

November 26, 2018

Deadly wildfires in California. Destructive hurricanes in Florida. Aching concerns of deep drought across New Mexico. And the dire predictions of the consequences of climate change from the prestigious United Nations scientific panel. We’re surrounded by signs of human-caused climate disruption.

So, what are we doing in Santa Fe? On Nov. 14, the City Council unanimously adopted the far-reaching 25-year sustainability plan, our city’s roadmap for achieving carbon neutrality by 2040. Yes, the plan has a host of short-, mid and long-range goals to reduce greenhouse gases, but it has much, much more. To be sustainable, the plan has strategies to better manage our natural resources, to improve economic vitality by rethinking infrastructure projects, and to enhance the quality of life for all in Santa Fe with a keen eye on social equity. At the nuts and bolts level, the plan’s strategies address renewable energy, energy efficiency, building codes, street lighting, local food production, water conservation, wildfire mitigation, recycling, coalitions of leaders here and across the state, and dozens more topics.

Three years in development, the plan has had the support of hundreds of citizens, environmental experts on the Sustainable Santa Fe Commission, city staff, city councilors and two mayors. At its core the plan is about “building the organizational capacity of the city of Santa Fe to implement the many strategies and ideas outlined.” Now, city officials turn to the programs, policies and projects that breathe life into the sustainability plan, and making it a “living plan” that can adjust to new ideas and conditions.

Here’s my challenge to you. Yes, this is a plan for the city of Santa Fe, but it is made fully actionable by all of us. Each of us has a role to play in combating climate change and making our city more sustainable. I ask business owners, directors and boards of NGOs, leaders in the faith community and caring individuals to read the plan. Then, ask yourself, “What can we do? What can I do?” to accelerate our path to a more sustainable future. Are their connections to your business plan for 2019 and beyond? Can you shape projects that support the programs of the city … in your family, your neighborhood, your congregation or your organization? And, at the deeply individual level, “How can I live more lightly on the Earth? How can I consume fewer resources in my daily life?”

The 25-year sustainability plan is just the next step in a journey to keep our community vibrant and healthy now and for future generations, even in the face of advancing climate change. National governments have responsibilities. State governments have responsibilities. But for citizens in a place where we choose to live, the action calls for a city and its citizens to shape their future.

Find the plan online at www.santafe nm.gov/sustainable_santa_fe. We on the commission welcome your feedback.

Beth Beloff is chairwoman of the Sustainable Santa Fe Commission.

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