Green Hawaii 2019


Photo: Getty Images

Sustainability Goals Gain International Recognition

United Nations identifies Hawaii as one of the world’s first local sustainability hubs, spotlighting its success at the local level.

By Kathryn Mykleseth

Hawaii has been officially recognized by the United Nations as one of the world’s first local sustainability hubs.

In November 2018, Hawaii Green Growth—a statewide public-private partnership aiming to foster and track Hawaii’s progress in achieving economic, social and environmental goals—officially accepted the U.N.’s invitation to become a Local2030 Hub.

Local2030 Hubs are part of a new U.N. initiative to spotlight successes at the local level in advancing the U.N.’s sustainable development goals; these local models can be scaled to size and applied globally.

“The U.N.’s invitation recognizes Hawaii’s history of systems-thinking and statewide leadership on sustainability,” says Celeste Connors, executive director for HGG. “Building on our host culture and island values, Hawaii can share integrated solutions to address global challenges.” Connors previously helped develop the sustainable development goals when she served as the White House’s director for Energy, Climate and the Environment in the Obama administration before returning home to work with HGG statewide partners.

“The goals of Hawaii Green Growth are closely aligned with our work to help build sustainable and resilient communities.”

—Scott Seu, Hawaiian Electric

HGG formed in 2011 in the lead-up to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Honolulu to identify green growth priorities across the water, energy, food and urban nexus. Due to the HGG partnership’s strong track record, the group, the first of its kind in the Pacific, was recognized by the U.N. as a leader on sustainable development goals.

“As an island community, collaboration is an integral part of our values system and how we strive to do business,” says Connors. “The launch of the U.N. Local2030 Hub celebrates Hawaii’s role as global sustainability leader and the legacy we want to leave future generations.”

HGG is a network of public, private and civil society partners who agreed upon sustainability goals that employ technology and open-data initiatives to track progress. The group works toward joint initiatives that build community resilience and the new innovation economy to create local jobs for Hawaii’s workforce of the future.

Photo: Getty Images

“The goals of Hawaii Green Growth are closely aligned with our work to help build sustainable and resilient communities,” says Scott Seu, senior vice president of public affairs for Hawaiian Electric and HGG board chair. “Working together with HGG and our other partners, we can show the world how different organizations with different missions can help secure a wonderful future for our island home and families.”

The HGG network worked together to launch the Aloha+ Challenge in 2014, a statewide commitment to achieve 2030 sustainability goals. This year marks the five-year anniversary of the Aloha+ Challenge, which is Hawaii’s local plan to measure and implement the sustainable development goals.

Through the Aloha+ Challenge the partners committed to meeting sustainability goals across renewable energy, local food production, natural resource management, waste reduction, smart sustainable communities, and green workforce and education.

Goals and Targets

  • A commitment to increase clean energy, achieving 100 percent renewable energy in the electricity sector by 2045
  • A target of increasing the state’s freshwater capacity by 100 million gallons per day
  • Reducing the solid waste stream by 70 percent
  • Increasing affordable housing, maintaining an affordability index over 100
  • Doubling local food production
  • Reducing community vulnerability to natural disasters and hazards
  • Increasing youth leadership pathways and academic participation 

The Aloha+ Dashboard open data portal allows stakeholders to see progress or areas that need improvement toward achieving the sustainable development goals for Hawaii.

“Elected officials are holding themselves accountable through a transparent tracking system,” says Connors. “The Aloha+ Dashboard measures how we’re doing on these commitments and where we need to focus our attention.”

Not only is it a resource for policymakers to assess progress, the dashboard is also available to the public. The figures provided include insight into: the amount of recycled materials, freshwater security, affordable housing, invasive species, aina-based education programs and economic diversity. The dashboard also tracks Hawaii’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement, which was enacted through state legislation in 2017.

Hawaii’s place-based model through the Aloha+ Challenge is a blueprint that can be applied to support widespread delivery of the sustainable development goals at a local level. Now, with international recognition, the HGG Local2030 Hub has a platform to facilitate and convene international dialogue on sustainability – and share solutions globally that can be applied by other local communities.

“Even if we achieve Hawaii’s goals, we are still at risk to global threats such as climate change. We need to partner internationally with other islands, communities and major economies to achieve the sustainable development goals because our long-term security depends on the world getting on a green growth pathway,” says Connors. “Hawaii’s model is already being recognized and scaled from the U.N. and the Commonwealth to Tasmania and Pacific islands, and through the Local2030 Hub, we can help to drive impact at a global level.”


Join the Project Footprint Initiative

By Natalie Schack

Are you part of the movement? Hawaiian Electric believes you can be. Its new Project Footprint initiative envisions a Hawaii running exclusively on renewable energy sources by 2045. It’s an aggressive goal, and one that requires the support of its customers to reach.

That’s where Project Footprint comes in, which hopes to inspire people to rethink how they can contribute to a more sustainable world. Steps can be small—opting for paperless billing or automatic bill payment—or large—investing in PV units for their home or driving an electric vehicle. Through the initiative, participants can score incentives that double as tools to help them continue their efforts toward a more sustainable lifestyle. Such incentives include: a reusable grocery bag, stainless steel water bottle, organic seed packet, portable solar-powered charger with built-in flashlight, credits for charging electric vehicles, and a T-shirt made of 100 percent recycled materials.

Photos: Courtesy of Hawaiian Electric

In addition, the initiative shines light on nonprofit organizations that are making sustainable moves, and encourages community engagement in the form of a call for footprint-themed artwork. After all, inspiration and togetherness are key to Project Footprint’s work.

“Hawaiian Electric is committed to reaching 100 percent clean energy and reducing our collective carbon footprint,” says Alan Oshima, president and CEO. “We can all play our part. Working together, we’ll get to a more sustainable future.”

To join the movement, visit


Institute for Climate & Peace

On a mission to advance effective, inclusive processes for a climate-conscious future.

By Lennie Omalza

Whether we like it or not, our climate is changing. The result of these changes will range from being inconvenient to life-threatening, depending on how prepared we are. Hawaii is host to the Institute for Climate and Peace, a groundbreaking institution whose mission is to advance effective and inclusive processes to build peaceful and climate-conscious futures for the well-being of all.

Last fall, ICP partnered with the East-West Center on a weeklong workshop on climate and peace with the fellows of the center’s Asia-Pacific Leadership Program. Since their short time together, several fellows have been acting on climate change peace action plans in their home communities. One woman is providing guidance on how to build peaceful and climate-resilient work environments for roughly 7,500 factory workers in central and northern India, while another is hosting a global interfaith dialogue in Seoul around environmental protection, peace building, and unification of the Korean Peninsula.

Photo: Courtesy of Obama Foundation

Locally, ICP started 2019 with the Obama Foundation’s Design Workshop: Hawaii, a three-day event to help shape the Foundation’s upcoming Asia-Pacific Leaders program. For that extraordinary group of emerging leaders from the region, the Institute conducted a session on climate and peace and asked: What skills are needed to be a leader in a climate-resilient future?

ICP co-founder and director Maxine Burkett says, “New problems require new ways of thinking and young people are forging ahead. We have a wonderful field of interns, as well as students with the University of Hawaii’s Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution that have been eager to find a way to act in this space at the intersection of two critical and future-defining areas.”

For more information or to get involved,


Working Together to Fight Climate Change

By Lennie Omalza

Photo: Getty Images

Hurricanes Lane and Olivia. Severe beach erosion on the North Shore. These were just a few reminders of why our community needs to build with resilience in mind. Because of Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s recent release of the city and county of Honolulu’s first-ever resilience strategy, the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency has been working hard to develop a punch-list of specific actions we need to take to make our population more resilient. But what can we, as individuals, do today to help fight climate change? “One of the most important things a person can do is to actually talk about it with friends and family,” says Josh Stanbro, chief resilience officer at the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency. “On Oahu, we are constantly in the water and on the land, so 82 percent of people on Oahu understand and agree that climate change is happening now, versus 70 percent of all Americans. That understanding is helping us come together as a community.”

Categories: Partner Content, Sustainability

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