ISSP May 2012 Newsletter

May 2, 2012 6:30 PM ET

Featured Articles In This Month's Newsletter

ISSP To Host FREE Rio+20 Webinar with Top Flight Panelists

ISSP has invited several significant players in the run up to Rio+20 to participate in a webinar on Thursday May 24, titled "The Importance of Rio+20". Read more below.

Run-Up To Rio+20: Preparatory Activity at United Nations In High Gear  

Up-to-the-minute coverage of the preparations for the Rio+20 conference appears here.

Toward Development and Internationalization of An Infrastructure Sustainability Rating System

From Paris, ISSP board member Fabio Vancini reports on Envision, a new infrastructure rating system developed in conjunction with Harvard Graduate School of Design.




As the ISSP newsletter for May went to press, preparatory activity for Rio+20 was in high gear at UN Headquarters in New York City as delegates were poised to move into a second week of negotiations.  

This is the second round of "informal informal" consultations on the "zero draft" of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20), building on previous talks held in New York in mid-January and late March.  During this round of discussions, delegates will seek consensus on the various components of draft text of the outcome document ahead of the UNCSD event in Rio in June.

As discussed in ISSP's April Update, the zero draft document, titled "The Future We Want," was released on 10 January 2012 at 19 pages in length.  At the conclusion of the March meeting, the draft had grown to 206 pages in length, including all of the proposed amendments.  In the interim, even more text had been proposed.

To continue reading this article, click here . 



The Importance of Rio+20

As part of its "policy and standards" workstream, ISSP is carefully tracking the run-up to Rio+20 (see related stories in this and previous newsletter issues).  This major event, set to occur in Rio this June, will certainly shape the sustainability dialogue going forward and therefore its outcomes will affect all sustainability professionals.  To frame the issues and to explore various stakeholder perspectives, ISSP has invited several significant players in the run up to Rio+20 to participate in a webinar on May 24, titled "The Importance of Rio+20".

From the UN, Amy Fraenkel, the Regional Director for North America of the UN Environment Program (UNEP) will offer opening remarks about the scope of the Rio+20 event and its major themes.  Then a panel of experts representing NGO, corporate and governmental perspectives will comment and participate in a discussion to be moderated by ISSP's Ira Feldman.   

  • Felix Dodds, the Executive Director of UK-based Stakeholder Forum and a longstanding NGO leader in UN CSD activities, is well-placed to articulate the need for open, accountable and participatory international decision-making on sustainable development.   
  • Chris Turner, the Rio+20 Director for the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD), will provide a corporate viewpoint by explaining how WBCSD members are contributing to the Business Action for Sustainable Development initiative at Rio+20.   
  • We have also invited a senior US government official, Lawrence Gumbiner, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, to share the hopes and expectations of the official US delegation.

For further information about "The Importance of Rio+20" and to register for this FREE webinar go to:  

Register Now>>     



On Saturday, April 28, Ira Feldman, the coordinator of ISSP's policy and standards workstream, attended an organizing workshop in New York City focusing on "Building a Global Network of National Councils (and Strategies) for Sustainable Development."  

The full-day workshop, convened by the UK-based NGO Stakeholder Forum and the government of Finland, brought together an international slate of presenters from the EU, Colombia, Barbados, Russia and Germany.  Each of the speakers explained progress towards a "National Sustainability Council" or a functional equivalent in their respective countries.  These presentations also informed a round of break-out sessions which explored the potential role and operating modalities for a proposed "network" of such country-specific national sustainability councils.  Stakeholder Forum expects to build on this workshop by eliciting "think pieces" from participants and others and then continuing the dialogue at the Rio+20 event.  

US sustainability activist Rob Wheeler of CitNet attended the workshop and, in urging others to engage, he commented, "I believe that the Local and National Sustainability Strategies and Councils hold one of the best opportunities for engaging as many stakeholders as possible in implementing and transitioning to a sustainable world and in an integrated manner. While I find this initiative to be most encouraging, I am hopeful that it will go beyond the stated purpose and focus as well on how we can develop a global program or partnership initiative that will support, assist and ensure that all countries and communities develop a local or national strategy and in a fully integrated and committed manner, as all UN Member States agreed to do in 1992 and 2002."

"Indeed such Councils and Strategies ought to provide the means to involve all of humanity in collaboratively fulfilling all of the UN sustainable development agreements that have been made to date, to live up to the Rio Principles, to achieve the forthcoming SDGs (see story above), and to make a rapid and essential transition to a fully sustainable world."

At present, the US does not have a national sustainability council; the most recent functional equivalent, the President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD), folded its tent in 1999.  Although various attempts have been made over the last ten years to reinvent a place or space for a national-level sustainability policy discussion in the US, there has been little political will to revisit the issue.  More recently, proposals have surfaced suggesting the utility of a US national sustainability strategy or plan. The presentations at this workshop, especially the mechanisms already in place in Economic and Social Councils the EU and in a Sustainable Development Advisory Council in Germany, helped to articulate variations of replicable templates and approaches.  The workshop discussion underscored the cultural and institutional differences across the models implemented to date, and clarified that national sustainability councils could be formed via government action or initiated through civil society multi-stakeholder dialogue.


Board of Directors Corner


By Fabio Vancini, ISSP Board Member

In collaboration with Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) has unveiled a new infrastructure rating system known as Envision. The system is designed to help decision makers evaluate the sustainability of infrastructure, set realistic priorities, and facilitate discourse on infrastructure investments ("are we doing the right project?", "are we doing the project right?"). Through a holistic approach, the Envision system gauges all types and sizes of infrastructure projects, and does so in terms of environmental, economic, and community benefits.

With warnings of irreversible environmental degradation becoming stronger and coming from credible sources not known for "green activism" (the latest being the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)), infrastructure projects will also be under increasing pressure to address resource constraints and the mounting expectations for greener paths to growth.

This means that the professionals that steer and implement future-oriented strategies, plans, designs, construction and operation activities for all types of infrastructure face a tall order in the years ahead: satisfying ever-growing demands, while at the same time responding to the potential impacts from climate change, threats from pollutants, and bottlenecks in natural resources. Such considerations places greater importance on the informed integration of sustainability oriented methodologies and technologies throughout the infrastructure life-cycle. The infrastructure investments that best meet challenges such as these - and which may serve as an example to others - can eventually qualify for verification under Envision.

The Envision tool seeks to give project sponsors a better basis to articulate the costs and benefits of infrastructure development by helping to reveal the fuller spectrum of project value, including contributions to job creation, "triple bottom line" outcomes (social, environmental, economic), and enhancements to urban resilience and regional competitiveness.

ISSP Board member Fabio Vancini has joined ISI´s Committee for Intergovernmental & Global Affairs. Committee members herald from organizations and companies including Arup Inc, American Public Works Association, HDR Inc, Fichtner GmbH, AECOM Technology, Black & Veatch, among several others. The global committee will, among other things, help ISI to develop various forms of national and international collaborations (within and between public, private and NGO sectors) to support the rating of, and professional development in, infrastructure sustainability.

Fabio Vancini works in a senior capacity for Germany´s global energy and environment advisory groupFichtner GmbH. He was educated at Cornell and Yale and has 20 years professional experience with nearly 40 countries across 5 continents. Fabio is co-developer and advisory board chair of and is a founding member of ISSP.



ISSP will have a big presence at the 66th Annual Conference of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC), to be held May 20 - May 24 in Portland, Oregon. In addition to staffing a booth as part of the conference exhibition, current and former members of the ISSP management team will present workshops for conference attendees.  

On Wednesday morning of the five-day conference, ISSP co-founder Darcy Hitchcock will lead a session on practical sustainability in the clerk's office, and how to create a sustainability plan. Also that week, ISSP co-founder and resource manager Dorothy Atwood will present a course entitled "Finding Sustainability in the Clerk's Office ... And Keeping It There."

The 2011 IIMC Conference attracted hundreds of delegates from around the world, including municipal clerks from Canada, Scotland, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Israel, Belgium and the Netherlands. Attendance is expected to be strong again this year.

The IIMC is the world's leading training and information association for municipal clerks. Municipal clerks are the professionals that serve as the gateway to city hall for citizens and one of the team members that elected officials count on to make sure public meetings, public records and special projects run smoothly.

Regarding IIMC's commitment to sustainability, IIMC's executive director Chris Shalby explains, "We produce sessions at our conferences, publish articles on sustainability in other cities, both domestically and internationally, and generally promote best practices when available." ISSP to happy to play a part in this year's IIMC annual conference. We look forward to engaging in sustainability-related dialogues with IIMC members from around the globe.


Members, Share Your News with Us! 

Have you or your company done something interesting lately? Did you recently publish an article, win an award or make a presentation to a large group?  Let us know what you've been up to so we may share it with your fellow members here in our newsletter.  Send your news items to  with the phrase Newsletter Item in the subject line.  

See you on-line!


JUNE WEBINAR:  Make Your Transition to a Greener, More Sustainable Career Successful

Join us June 21, 2012 at 11am PT as we host Carol McClelland, PhD and Vicki Lind, MS for an interactive webinar on Make Your Transition to a Greener, More Sustainable Career Successful. During the webinar, you'll discover: 

  • Ways to assess the state of green opportunities in your field. 
  • How to streamline your career transition.   
  • How to identify your next step in your transition journey.
  • Why searching for a job may not be your best transition strategy.  
  • How to avoid potential detours that can cost you valuable time during your transition.  
  • The "Top Ten Mistakes" make in career transition and job search.

Carol and Vicki have hosted several ISSP career webinars. The two of them designed a Career session at the 2011 ISSP Conference that Vicki moderated along with co-panelists Eryn Emerich and Roger Hughes.   

Carol is one of the nation's leading green career experts. Throughout her career, Carol has helped thousands of people find work that matches their values and interests.  Carol is the founder and Executive Director of Green Career Central, an online coaching center dedicated to helping experienced professionals leveraging their existing skills, experience and passions in the ever-evolving green/clean/sustainable economy

Vicki is one of the leading career counselors in Oregon with a specialty in jobs in sustainability and is author of "Finding a Job Worth Having: for Creatives and People Who Want to Make a Difference" and co-author of "Portland Green Guide to Networking and Jobs."

REGISTER HERE>>           


JUNE 2012:  SPaRK - Sustainability Planning - Virtual Workshop

Instructor: Marsha Willard, PhD. 

Workshop's Live Webinars meet on-line on Tuesdays (June 5, 12, 19, 26) 2012 for 60 to 90 minutes. Click here for more information.

This popular ISSP workshop will walk you through the steps of creating a comprehensive sustainability plan: from justification for your sustainability efforts, through impacts assessment and determination of measures.  Over 4 weeks you will develop a "draft" plan and experience applying each of the key steps of the process. You will be provided a trial version of the SPaRK tool which is an Excel based file that includes the worksheets and data entry tables for recording your key planning decisions.   

Course instructor is Marsha Willard, author of The Step by Step Guide to Sustainability Planning, is co-founder and CEO of AXIS Performance Advisors, Inc. a Northwest based consulting firm specializing in helping organizations implement sustainable business practices. She has worked with organizations in both the public and private sector providing training,  consulting, facilitation and executive coaching services. Marsha is also Executive Director of ISSP.

Here's what a participant from the January 2012 workshop reported: "Everything is going well! I've just talked our Chief Academic Officer into starting a major sustainability project using my sustainability plan from Marsha's class!!!!  We are steering the ship in the right direction."

Register Now>>   



Rambunctious Garden

Marris, Emma (2011) Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World. Bloomsbury: New York, NY

Reviewed by Darcy Hitchcock

This book exposes a paradigm shift going on in the environmental community. Pristine nature is no more. But can we do more than try to conserve little slivers of sensitive habitat in parks? Is there a role for non-native species if the tree provides critical habitat for threatened species and grows faster than natives?

Read the full review.


Planning and Community Development

Tyler, Norman and Robert Ward (2011) Planning and Community Development: A Guide for the 21st Century. New York, NY: WW Norton and Company

Reviewed by Darcy Hitchcock

This would make a good text for a course on sustainable development or urban planning. It provides a historical and current perspective on planning including comprehensive plans, urban planning, housing, historic preservation, economic development, transportation planning, environmental planning and rural/transitional planning. The appendix is a simulation you can use for training purposes.

Read the full review.


ISSP To Exhibit at 30th Annual West Coast Energy Management Conference in Seattle 

The Association of Energy Engineers is a non-profit, professional organization with more than 16,000 members in the energy engineering, energy management, renewable energy, power generation, energy services, and sustainability fields.

In addition to its membership, training and certification, AEE presents three trade shows a year, specific to the commercial, industrial, institutional and government market place. One of their shows, the West Coast Energy Management Congress (EMC) will be in Seattle, Washington on May 23-24, 2012. ISSP will be participate in the conference as an exhibitor on the EMC West Coast show floor.

The West Coast Energy Management Congress (EMC), now in its 30th year, is where top professionals from throughout the western U.S. will come to get up to speed on the latest energy marketplace developments, explore promising new technologies for their facilities, compare energy supply options, and learn about innovative project implementation strategies.

If you plan to attend EMC West, stop by the ISSP booth and and say hello!  



See details about these events on the Partner Events page of the ISSP Website.      

  • Sustainable Cities International Symposium 2012, April 30 - May 3, Vancouver BC
  • Biomimicy Workshop, May 5-7, Portland, OR
  • Responsible Business Summit 2012, May 8-9, London, England
  • Product Stewardship Institute Spring Webinar Series, Various Dates from May 9 through June 26, On-Line
  • Innovating for Sustainability, Harvard Business School Executive Education, May 20-23, London, England
  • International Institute of Municipal Clerks Annual Conference, May 20 - 24, Portland, Oregon 
  • West Coast Energy Management Congress, May 23-24, Seattle, WA
  • Sustainable Brands, June 4-7, San Diego
  • Strategies For A New Economy, June 8-10, Bard College, Annadale-on-Hudson, NY
  • Biogas East and Midwest, June 19-20, Chicago
  • International Seminar on Zero Waste Strategies, July 19-20, San Sebastian, Spain
  • Ecosystem Services Partnership Annual Conference, July 31-Aug 4, Portland, Oregon
  • Corporate Social Responsibility, October 17-20, Harvard Business School Executive Education, Boston, MA US
  • The Eco Districts Summit, October 23-26, Portland, Oregon
  • Local Renewables, October 25-26, Freiburg, Germany
  • Green Project Management, various dates and locations
  • GRI training, various dates and locations
  • Natural Step Canada training courses, various dates and locations