While 2017 has been a year of uncertainty for federal environmental policy, we continue to be encouraged and energized by what is happening right here in Pittsburgh. As part of Covestro’s i3 (ignite, imagine, innovate) corporate social responsibility initiative, the THINC30 Summit brought together the architects of Pittsburgh’s green transformation, and provided a stunning reflection on the city’s collective commitment to prosperity for all.
Appropriately far reaching, the Summit was organized around the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which provide a framework for “achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions – economic, social, and environmental – in a balanced and integrated manner.” The goals’ original intent focused on poverty reduction, with the understanding that climate change and environmental protection are intrinsically linked to long-term prosperity.
Each speaker presented a unique angle on social impact, but taken together, their diverse perspectives represent a truly sustainable approach to our city’s growth. A few highlights included:
- Aaron Hurst, co-founder and CEO of Imperative, the advocate for purpose-oriented work and founder of the Taproot Foundation, who explained the current shift from the Information Economy to the Purpose Economy, challenging businesses to shift from employee engagement to activating purpose within their workforce.
- Carl Pope, former Executive Director of the Sierra Club who recently published a book with Michael Bloomberg titled Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet.
- Stephen Ritz, an energetic educator / administrator (and two-time Inspire Speaker Series presenter!) whose book, The Power of a Plant, chronicles his initiative incorporating gardening and plants into his curriculum and moving the graduation rate from 17% to 100% in his South Bronx high school.
- Three spotlight presenters – igniting an idea in only five minutes were: Father Paul Abernathy, Director of FOCUS Pittsburgh, an Orthodox Christian non-profit focused on human development in the Hill District; Josiah Gilliam with Homewood Children’s Village and Program Manager for Pittsburgh’s My Brother’s Keeper network; and Vivien Luk, Executive Director of WORK, empowering people in Haiti through strategic partnerships with companies to provide workforce training and jobs.
- Four incredible panel sessions featuring local leaders from organizations like 412 Food Rescue, Children’s Museum, PNC Bank, Pittsburgh Promise, Robotany, United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and Urban Innovation 21.
The SDGs are ambitious and inspirational, but with local communities all over the world (and here at home!) working together, I am feeling as positive as ever that this future is within reach.