On July 16, Mayor Barrett launched Milwaukee's first Sustainability Plan. ReFresh Milwaukee is a citywide strategic plan to develop a sound environmental, economic and social sustainable future for the community. The plan aims to implement sustainable projects and encourage citizens and businesses to engage in solutions that are economically,environmentally, and socially smart for our community.
Visit www.ReFreshMKE.com to read the complete plan and how you can be involved.
Download the Complete Report HERE
In addition, to volunteering with specific Green Team working groups, there will be more opportunities to provide input on the Plan as it starts to take shape. These opportunities will be in 2013. Stay informed and involved:
When Did the Planning Process Start and When Will It End? The Sustainability Planning process officially began when Mayor Barrett appointed the Green Team in February 2012. The Team began public outreach in June with this first round of input ending October 31. Tentatively, the Office of Environmental Sustainability anticipates additional calls for public input in 2013 as a draft Plan is readied. The Green Team is targeting Summer 2013 for official Sustainability Plan roll-out.
What is Sustainability? Sustainability is generally defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The long-term sustainable development of a city can be thought of as the implementation of intersecting policies that address key social, economic and environmental conditions in the community (also known as the “three pillars of sustainable development”).
What is a Sustainability Plan? A Sustainability Plan identifies a strategic vision and works to achieve it through a comprehensive set of goals and strategies focused on improving environmental quality, economic strength, and social equity within a community. The Plan works like a road map guiding the City towards a more sustainable future, through the implementation of strategies identified through a comprehensive, inclusive stakeholder process.
Milwaukee’s Sustainability Plan: The purpose of the City of Milwaukee Sustainability Plan (“the Plan”) is to provide a community and City endorsed strategic vision for Milwaukee’s sustainable economic development for the next 5-10 years. The Plan will document the vision, goals, targets and specific actions that the City of Milwaukee and its community partners will undertake in order to ensure that both current residents and future generations can attain and enjoy a higher quality of life.
The Plan will incorporate “triple bottom-line” accounting so that Milwaukee’s residents, businesses and environment benefit from implementation (i.e., people, planet and profits). The planning effort will utilize the 2005 Green Team Report as a foundation for Plan development as well as utilize the Natural Step for Communities and ICLEI STAR Communities Index as methodologies. In addition, the Brico Fund is developing a Milwaukee Sustainability Fund that ensures immediate transition from planning to action in the community.
Milwaukee’s Sustainability Plan Vision Statement: Milwaukee’s Sustainability Plan will create an alignment of economic and environmental interests that improve Milwaukee’s quality of life, benefiting residents, businesses and our natural environment through embracing smart, achievable sustainability principles. As a result, Milwaukee will be the Fresh Coast Capital of North America.
WHY IS A SUSTAINABILITY PLAN ESSENTIAL?
Why Now? There is a strong desire for action in the community, specifically as it relates to identifying a strategic vision and action plan for improving the overall sustainability of Milwaukee. Mayor Barrett catalyzed this movement in the community with formation of the original Green Team in 2004, the publication of the Green Team Report in 2005 and the subsequent creation of the City’s Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES) in 2006. In 2011, the Mayor reported back to the original Green Team on Milwaukee’s sustainability achievements since 2005 noting a strong foundation for sustainable economic development in the City had been laid. In fact, one of the recommendations in the 2005 Green Team Report is to “develop a green plan for the City.” 
The Mayor announced at his 2012 State of the City address (February 13, 2012) that he wants to work with the community to build a smarter city through sustainability and has directed the OES Director to begin a sustainability planning exercise immediately. Milwaukee was among nationally leading municipalities when it published the Green Team Report and created OES but has since fallen behind as today’s leading “green” municipalities have a community endorsed Sustainability Plan (and/or Climate Action Plan).
Why Not a Climate Action Plan? Climate Action Plans can generally be defined as plans that lay out a strategy, including specific policy recommendations that a municipality will use to address climate change and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (EPA definition). The City of Milwaukee wants to cover more territory than is generally covered in Climate Action Plans including a focus on the economic development aspects of sustainability. As a result, the more comprehensive Sustainability Planning process is being utilized.
What Cities Have Sustainability Plans? North America’s leading cities in the field of sustainable economic development have either a Sustainability Plan or a Climate Action Plan (and in some cases both). New York City (PlanNYC), Austin (STAR Community Index Pilot City), Minneapolis (Living Well Sustainability Indicators), Philadelphia (Greenworks), Baltimore (Baltimore Sustainability Plan) and Vancouver (Vancouver 2020: A Bright Green Future) all have Sustainability Plans and/or sustainability indicators.
The Natural Step model of sustainability was developed in Sweden in 1983 by Dr. Karl-Henrik Robért. It has since been adjusted for use at the community level in the book The Natural Step for Communities: How Communities and Towns Can Change to Sustainable Practices (James and Lahti). The Natural Step model is a systematic approach to sustainability. The model doesn’t approach sustainability in terms of single projects, but as an entire system and all of the actions and decisions that made within that system. It also uses the A-B-C-D planning process. That process is as follows: Awareness and Visioning; Baseline Mapping; Creative Solutions; and Decide on Priorities. More information about the Natural Step Model can be found at http://www.naturalstep.org/.