Hawaii Invasive Species Council co-chair and Department of Land and Natural Resources chairman William J. Aila, Jr. highlighted Hawaii’s international leadership in green growth at the Island Summit held at the United Nations’Convention on Biological Diversity, Conference of the Parties (CBD COP-11) on October 16. Aila led a Hawaii delegation to Hyderabad, India, where Hawaii was featured in yesterday’s event—Island Innovations: Celebrating Bright Spots, Leadership and Successes in Island Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods. Aila took the international stage to address the high-level audience and shared Hawaii’s innovative approach and commitment to integrated green growth with the world.
“Hawaii is the most isolated population on the planet, and we depend on imports for 80 to 90 percent of our energy and food. We must take action to build a more sustainable and self-sufficient economy for our people,”Aila stated.
The Hawaii delegation highlighted the state’s commitments to renewable energy and a sustainable economy as outlined in Governor Neil Abercrombie’s New Day Plan, DLNR’s “Rain Follows the Forest”watershed initiative, Hawaii’s Clean Energy Initiative, Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Plan, county sustainability initiatives and local grassroots community efforts. A main component of the Rain Follows the Forest watershed initiative is the protection of mauka forests from invasive ungulates such as goats, sheep, pigs and deer.
The Island Innovations event was organized by the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) and co-hosted by the governments of Seychelles and India. GLISPA promotes actions for island conservation and sustainable livelihoods by inspiring leadership, catalyzing commitments and facilitating collaboration. The United States helped found GLISPA in 2006, and the state of Hawaii is now engaging in this international network of island leaders. GLISPA is co-chaired by the Presidents of Seychelles and Palau and the Prime Minister of Grenada.
Working with Hawaii leaders, GLISPA helped form the Hawaii Green Growth Initiative (HGG) in 2011. “HGG’s mission is to bring Hawai`i leaders from energy, food and the environment together to achieve sustainability in Hawaii and serve as a model for integrated green growth,”explained Chipper Wichman, CEO of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens (NTBG) on Kauai and member of the Hawaii delegation. “Hawaii’s participation in the Island Summit is an unprecedented opportunity to represent our country’s commitment to island conservation and sustainability.”
Hawaii was also featured at the Island Bright Spots discussions on building a green-blue economy. The Hawaii delegation spoke with representatives from all over the world about Hawaii’s collaborative and cultural-based efforts to build a green-blue economy with ambitious targets to increase renewable energy, local food production, and protection of natural resources from mountaintop to sea while creating a more diverse economy with green jobs. Aila and Wichman were joined on the delegation by Jacqueline Kozak Thiel of the Hawaii Invasive Species Council and Hauoli Wichman from NTBG.
While in Hyderabad, the Hawaii delegation met with members of the U.S. State Department, as well as delegates from the Pacific, Caribbean, and Indian Oceans, as well as nations with islands to share with and learn from other islands.
“The Hawaii Green Growth Initiative is important to all islands because we need to build sustainable economies for our environment and our communities”said Rolph Payet, Minister for Environment and Energy for the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean. “We welcome Hawaii to the global island family and look forward to learning from one another.”
“As islands, we understand that the challenges facing islands and our planet are linked, and we must solve them together. Our economic future depends on caring for our environment mauka to makai,” Aila explained.
HISC Communications Coordinator Jacqueline Kozak Thiel gave an interview with Climate Change TV on Hawaii’s sustainability initiatives.