Sustainable South Bronx Calls For Leadership at U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen

Executive Director Miquela Craytor Provides Perspective on How Local Ingenuity Can Model Success for Sustainable Solutions on a Global Scale, on
Dec 3, 2009 10:00 AM ET
Press Release

(3BLMedia/theCSRfeed) South Bronx, New York, December 3, 2009Sustainable South Bronx, a nonprofit organization delivering economic and environmental solutions to urban communities, is calling for strong leadership at the upcoming U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. 

Miquela Craytor, executive director of Sustainable South Bronx, provided perspective in an article that was originally published on The article can also be viewed at the following link:

About Sustainable South Bronx

Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx) has been championing hope and opportunity for the people of the South Bronx and other urban communities since 2001. Our unique comprehensive approach to problem solving combines public advocacy, job training and education to improve economic and environmental conditions, resulting in more prosperous and revitalized communities. For more information, please visit
Janett Florindo
As world leaders convene in Copenhagen this month to address a global response to climate change, much is at stake for our collective future. In addition to setting a framework -- however constrained -- for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, global leaders have the opportunity to put us on a path toward greater economic, environmental and social prosperity by sending the right signal to national and local policy makers, business leaders, innovators and investors.

It's not a moment too soon.

Communities around the globe are caught in spiraling disinvestment, bypassed by smart growth policies, cleantech startups and the growing consciousness of what constitutes a healthy community. These localities face the worst of two worlds: disproportionately suffering environmental ills while missing out on the economic renewal that comes from clean, green policy decisions.

What we need now are policies that drive change on a global level and set a course for wealth creation and quality-of-life improvement through technological and environmental innovation in every community, rich and poor.

This future is not only necessary, but within reach, given the right policies. While the goals of Copenhagen are global in nature, implications are locally felt and many of the solutions will be implemented by the people in the trenches, especially in inner cities. These are the individuals who bear the brunt of industrial insults as well as the worst impacts of catastrophic weather triggered by climate change. And these are the communities that stand the most to gain.

Fortunately, we have examples of local ingenuity that can serve as global models.
The South Bronx, one of the poorest congressional districts in the United States, experiences firsthand the damage caused by a broken economic system. We see, hear, smell and taste the results of decades of policy decisions that ignored the inextricable links between environmental damage and poverty. But logic tells us that the converse is also true -- that the links between environmental improvement and economic prosperity are equally inextricable.

Through locally driven, environmentally responsible projects, the people of the South Bronx are innovating their way out of their economic problems, green roof by green roof, green building by green building, as a means of community survival and revival. By quietly harnessing environmental projects to create demand for jobs, organizations like Sustainable South Bronx are driving a localized green revolution that improves the quality of life for residents and the larger community.

In the South Bronx, we have leveraged this vision to influence local leaders to implement policies that bring green industry to the South Bronx and other urban communities. We've seen that when the business case is made, people listen and act. We have proven the business case for localized sustainable development and we are now calling on global leaders to make that business case on a global level. Only then will the incentives be in place for a sustainable future fueled by clean energy and the jobs we need.

Encouraging sustainability will simultaneously create jobs and address climate change. For example, comprehensive low-impact storm water management policies not only absorb the impacts of storm surges, but also cool our communities and create jobs. Comprehensive retrofit programs for existing buildings increase energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and power generation, and create jobs. Moving our waste stream toward zero-waste objectives reduces the use of natural resources and the energy required to transport garbage, generates new manufacturing opportunities and creates jobs.

Now is the time to apply lessons learned locally to the global playing field. We need critical thinking and action by world leaders who are willing to apply those local solutions as the means to drive the necessary change at a global scale. The Copenhagen conference represents an extraordinary opportunity to showcase successes, shift policy and open the door to economic and social prosperity through environmental innovation.

We in the trenches of poor communities are ready to do the heavy lifting. What we need is leadership from the top: Those who will apply our local models globally, leverage our experience to formulate policy to propagate successes, and provide the political muscle to get us all moving in the right direction.