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    CSP Jan 9.jpg
    Pariticipants at Jan. 9 West Michigan Community Sustainability Partnership regional summit discuss climate resiliency.    

    West Michigan Leaders in Sustainability Discuss Climate Resiliency

    ALLENDALE, Mich. — Leaders and members of the West Michigan Community Sustainability Partnership (CSP) met on Thursday, January 9 to discuss sustainability and climate resiliency. Representatives from around West Michigan from private sector, academia, and local and county governments were in the audience.

    The meeting was held at Grand Valley State University’s Alumni House in Allendale, Michigan. Facilitating the West Michigan CSP meeting was John Koches, Associate Research Scientist and Manager of the Information Services Center at GVSU’s Annis Water Resources Institute. President of the university and member of CSP leadership team, Thomas Haas, was present to welcome attendees. Following Haas’s welcome, the City of Grand Rapids Mayor George K. Heartwell provided the meeting’s agenda and introduced the importance of climate resiliency.

    “In Grand Rapids, we’re determined to be proactive about climate resiliency. With the help of our partners, we hope to extend our work and influence beyond the city to make a regional impact,” Heartwell said.

    Jon Allan, Director of the Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of the Great Lakes, spoke regarding the impact climate change has on the Great Lakes. Lake Michigan and Lake Superior are referred to as weather generators and complex systems.

    “The systems like the Great Lakes are so fundamental and they are changing,” Allan said.

    Allan also discussed the role of corporations in sustainability. He referred to the significance of corporations’ management of sustainability, not only within their own operations, but with their partners and suppliers as well.

    “Climate is becoming a driver for where capital is going,” Allan said.

    Nick Occhipinti, Policy and Community Activism Director at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) and Aaron Ferguson, a WMEAC consultant presented an overview of the 2013 Grand Rapids Climate Resiliency Report at the meeting. The report, which was prepared by WMEAC and the City of Grand Rapids, is centered on Grand Rapids and impacts many surrounding cities.

    Occhipinti and Ferguson outlined various climate change findings for Grand Rapids within the report including the following:

    •        The average temperature will increase 4 degrees F by 2042.
    •        Precipitation will increase by 8.5% by 2042.
    •        The largest increases in temperature are projected to occur during the winter.
    •        The largest percentage increase in precipitation is likely to occur in the winter and spring months.

    The representatives of WMEAC also presented recommendations and goals outlined in the report for each segment of the triple bottom line, which includes economic issues, environmental issues, and social impacts. Goals of the report include initiating a conversation regarding climate resiliency and activating various projects and programs to address the effects of climate change.

    “This is not just a global issue. This is a local and professional issue,” Occhipinti said.

    Following presentations, attendees of the meeting were asked to have discussions around their tables based on various questions regarding resiliency, climate change, and the future of the West Michigan CSP. City representatives briefly reported on activities undertaken by their local CSPs as well. The consensus among attendees was the importance of spreading this information regarding climate change and resiliency to a larger audience. Haris Alibašić, Director of the City of Grand Rapids Office of Energy and Sustainability, advocated for further growth.

    “It’s imperative that other communities in West Michigan and the rest of the state get involved,” Alibašić said.

    City of Grand Rapids Mayor Heartwell added, “Every city should be looking ahead to prepare for the impact of climate change.”

    To view the Grand Rapids Climate Resiliency Report, click here. For more information regarding the Grand Rapids Community Sustainability Partnership and its West Michigan partners, visit​.

    About the West Michigan Community Sustainability Partnership:

    The West Michigan Community Sustainability Partnership is a diverse network of for-profit and nonprofit organizations in West Michigan who embrace and support sustainability in their planning and operations and are striving to make a positive impact in the community. Members of the Community Sustainability Partnership (CSP) are committed to work together to restore environmental integrity, improve economic prosperity, and promote social equity. 

    Article written by Morgan Yingst, Office of Energy and Sustainability Communication and Marketing Intern