The Sustainable Futures Conference: A Review

On Friday April 30, I (virtually) attended The Sustainable Futures Conference. Hosted by the Future of Small Cities Institute, the multi-day conference included a myriad of speakers that showcased the intersection among urban/rural planning, economic development, equity, resiliency and, more.

The theme of the final day, which I participated in, was “Sustainability= Equity: Justice & Resilience in Cities.”  The presenters displayed the wide range of work happening in this field, from grassroots organizations advocating for environmental justice in New York City, to the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation explaining the goals that the state has established for renewable energy (the mandate includes reaching zero-emissions in the electricity sector by 2040, including 70% renewable energy generation by 2030, eventually reaching economy-wide carbon neutrality).

While equity and resiliency have become buzzwords over the last year, it is apparent that these organizers and leaders have been working towards these ambitious goals for years and even decades. And when resiliency and equity are replaced by the latest jargon in planning, their work will continue to advance these goals and keep related values in the public consciousness. These transformative shifts can feel impossible at times but it is clear that the work put in over so many years has reached a tipping point and incremental change now feels monumental.


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