What is an Eco-City?
Eco-Cities are places where people can live healthier and economically productive lives while reducing their impact on the environment. They work to harmonize existing policies, regional realities, and economic and business markets with their natural resources and environmental assets. Eco-Cities strive to engage all citizens in collaborative and transparent decision making, while being mindful of social equity concerns.
What is Eco-City Alexandria?
Early in 2007, under the Mayor and City Council's direction, the City of Alexandria partnered with Virginia Tech's Department of Urban Affairs and Planning located in Alexandria to develop a new and holistic strategic environmental planning process called Eco-City Alexandria. The ultimate goal was to create an Eco-City Charter and Environmental Action Plan to guide Alexandria toward environmental sustainability. The Alexandria Environmental Policy Commission, a Council-appointed volunteering group of 13 citizens with expertise and interest in the environmental field, is the project's principal advisor along with representatives from Alexandria City Council and City Staff. The Director of the City's Office of Environmental Quality serves as the City's project manager.
In 2007, the Eco-City Alexandria team conducted an inventory of existing City programs to create "Eco-City Alexandria: A Green-Ventory of City Environmental Policies, Plans and Programs". In addition, Virginia Tech examined best practices from across the country and abroad to create a Compendium of Model Programs and Practices.
In 2008, the project team focused on the development of an Eco-City Charter. An extensive public outreach campaign was devised to ensure that the Charter reflects the wishes and priorities of the citizens. A successful Eco-City Café was held to obtain public inputs required for the development of a draft Charter. This draft Charter was then released for public comment at the following annual Alexandria Earth Day. A very successful Eco-City Summit was then held to get additional public feedback on the draft Charter. The keynote speaker for this summit was Mayor Bob Harvey of the City of Waitakere, New Zealand, a pioneer of Eco-City and sustainability. The Eco-City Charter, one of the first of its kind in the country, was unanimously adopted by City Council in June 2008. This Charter encompasses the core values and ten guiding principles which is the basis for the Environmental Action Plan.
The Environmental Action Plan 2030 (EAP 2030) was adopted by City Council in June 2009 and follows the guiding principles outlined in the Eco-City Charter. It serves as a road map for City leaders and residents to implement the Eco-City Charter. The EAP 2030 outlines 48 goals, 50 targets and 353 actions for the next 20 years to lead the City towards environmental sustainability.
What is Sustainability?
Sustainability is progress that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The central goal of sustainability is to provide the best outcomes for the human and natural worlds.
A sustainable community is an environmentally, economically, and socially healthy place where people can live, work and play for decades to come:
- Ecological sustainability ensures that all parts of the natural and built environments work together as a single ecological system.
- Economic sustainability ensures a healthy economy that supports and sustains people and the environment in which they live over the long-term.
- Social sustainability ensures that a community meets residents' basic health and social needs and has the resiliency to prevent and/or address problems in the future.
Sign-up today for Environmental Quality E-News to receive updates on volunteer opportunities and environmental events.