The important event brought together—for the first time—regional and state leaders in sustainability to focus on how local governments can improve sustainability across the board. Over 200 participants joined in breakout sessions that focused on everything from electric vehicles to sea-level rise. General sessions addressed public-private partnerships and creative ways to finance new projects. Attendees left with a treasure-rove of new knowledge and opportunities.
Keynote addresses from some of the most important leaders in the state—including Ken Alex, Senior Advisor to State of California Governor Jerry Brown and Director of the Office of Planning and Research, City of Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, and California State Senator Alan Lowenthal—gave participants a chance to see how leadership in Southern California can dovetail with the leadership of the state. In one of the highlights of the forum, California Air Resources Board Chairman (and former director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability), Mary Nichols gave a keynote address explaining the state Cap-and-Trade program and its implications for the region.
Attendees were fortunate to have the first opportunity to receive an in-depth description of the path-breaking climate modeling of the region’s future by UCLA Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Professor Dr. Alex Hall. Professor Hall’s research has received national attention for its sophistication and the ability to translate climate change projections directly to the local governments that have to respond.
The forum was the premiere annual event for local governments at the front lines of sustainability. Experts from many sectors—government officials, academics, and businesses—shared knowledge, identified priorities, and developed strategies for local governments to build a sustainable Southern California. Conference participants stressed the importance of being able to meet their peers from across the landscape of those working on sustainability and to network and identify strategies that can help communities across the region become more livable, vibrant, and sustainable.
A beautiful reception was held at the Aquarium of the Pacific (AoP), inaugurating the AoP’s membership in the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability (LARC) and providing LARC members and conference participants a lovely opportunity to network. Attendees had the opportunity to test-drive two new electric vehicles—the Coda and Mitsubishi Electric. With the critical need to bring together local governments and regional leaders to work on all elements of a sustainable future, the Southern California Sustainability Forum is poised to be a critical annual program for our region.
The Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability is a network designed to encourage greater coordination and cooperation at the local and regional levels by bringing together leadership from government, the business community, academia, labor, environmental and community groups. The purpose of this collaboration is to share information, foster partnerships, and develop system-wide strategies to address climate change and promote a green economy through sustainable communities. LARC is generously housed by the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.