Sustainable Jersey Releases 2015 NJ Sustainable State of the State Report

on Jun 11, 2015

300 leaders gather at NJ Sustainability Summit to review report and prioritize future

Sustainable Jersey released the 2015 New Jersey Sustainable State of the State Report that includes goals, indicators and assessments for achieving a more sustainable New Jersey. Three hundred community leaders discussed and provided input regarding the contents of the report at the New Jersey Sustainability Summit held yesterday at The College of New Jersey.  You can find Volumes I & II of the report here.

After a two year process consisting of stakeholder engagement, research and expert consultation, this report has 57 goals that define a vision of sustainability for New Jersey. Each goal has indicators that provide clues as to how New Jersey is doing. For example, the report suggests that solid waste production should be reduced; therefore an indicator of progress is how much solid waste is generated each year. The report shows that while recycling rates have been flat, the total amount of municipal solid waste generated in New Jersey per year continues to increase.

“The 2015 State of the State Report is a critical document for New Jersey in framing a report card on our progress. Its presentation at the Summit as a “humble offering to start a discussion” is right on target toward engaging stakeholders in an ongoing dialogue toward continuous improvement in measuring quality of life indicators,” said Gary Sondermeyer, vice president of operations at Bayshore Recycling Corp. and a speaker at one of the sessions.

“As might be expected, the report’s results suggest a mixed bag, with progress being made in some areas and not others. The report is a call to action. The report goals, indicators, and assessments of progress are clearly subject to debate and interpretation and that is the intent,” said Sustainable Jersey Co-Director Randall Solomon and co-author of the report. “We want to build consensus around the future we want, and about how to track progress. The Summit gave us a valuable opportunity to take the first step toward these goals.”

Eric Stiles, the president and CEO of the New Jersey Audubon Society was a speaker at one of the 16 Summit workshops. He remarked, “Summit participants came from a broad range of backgrounds and professions and workshops ranged from the philosophical, such as citizen engagement to nuts and bolts of best practices in communities. The symposium abounded with connectors and thought leaders creating fertile ground within and between sessions. Clearly, Sustainable Jersey is charting new grounds towards a more just, inclusive and sustainable future.”

As Clare Payton, a member of the Maplewood Environmental Advisory Committee, left the session on water, she commented, “When I hear that at least 90 percent of our bodies of water in New Jersey are failing to meet the water quality standards for at least one of their designated uses, I want to sound a great call to action to prioritize water today. The data results are not acceptable. Let’s remember that clean water is essential to all life and focus now on the actions that we need to take to make New Jersey water a sustainable resource for our future.”

Sustainable Jersey is a network and movement of over 400 municipalities and 300 schools and school districts working collectively to achieve a sustainable future. “I’m encouraged by the level of energy at the Summit. Attendees made it clear that they are ready to fight for the changes necessary. Sustainable Jersey is succeeding in changing the way people view New Jersey and our participants care passionately about their communities so they want to take action to improve their quality of life. The rigorous Sustainable Jersey certification framework allows New Jersey towns to tell their positive stories,” said Donna Drewes, co-director of Sustainable Jersey.

Melanie Hughes McDermott, Ph.D., a co-author of the State of the State Report and senior researcher for Sustainable Jersey said, “Moving forward, we need people to review this report and provide input on what the best indicators are and what goals people value the most so that we can measure and fill in the data that is needed.” On June 17, Sustainable Jersey will host a Feedback and Discussion Webinar to discuss the report. Feedback can also be provided directly to Melanie Hughes McDermott at any time via mcdermom@tcnj.edu.

What Participants Said

“The Summit was an excellent chance to network with other sustainability pioneers from across the state it was an invaluable and inspirational opportunity,” said Angela C. Andersen, C.R.P, S.R.M.P., environmental coordinator and green team chair, Long Beach Township.

“The Sustainability Summit was great. It was good to see so many familiar faces and so much passion for a shared goal of creating a healthier, greener, more equitable and resilient New Jersey,” said Medea Villeré, U.S. Green Building Council-NJ.

“The Sustainability Summit was a terrific opportunity to connect with colleagues and hear about their successes and obstacles; the Sustainable State of the State Report “dropped” at the event gives New Jersey the ability to see where we’re going, how we’re doing, and the ability to track our progress toward becoming a more sustainable place to live, work, and go to school,” said Gray Russell, sustainability officer, Township of Montclair.

“The Sustainability Jersey Summit provided an opportunity to hear how much progress is being made across the state as we all work toward building more sustainable communities. I personally came away energized and excited to share what I learned with our green team and elected officials,” said Monica Coffey, chair of Sustainable Margate.

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