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Sustainable Cities Network Offers Support to Arizona Communities

April 5, 2011

Community sustainability is becoming an important priority for cities and towns of all sizes across the US, particularly in light of the current economic downturn.  Although definitions of sustainability may vary slightly between policy makers and residents, sustainability is most often associated with jurisdictions being environmentally, socially and fiscally responsible. How cities and towns become more sustainable is a challenge on a variety of levels. Often city officials and those tasked with implementation do not know where to turn for information and resources. Starting down the “sustainability road” generally raises more questions than answers, adding to the complexity of this important task.

Convening the Network
Nowhere in the US is the need for sustainability more evident than in the arid climate of the southwest.  With limited water resources and the projected increase in population and other resources such as energy, southwestern states are in a keen position to pave the proverbial road to greater sustainability.  Specifically in Arizona, the Sustainable Cities Network was created to help municipalities in the Phoenix-Metro area and around the state with sustainability.  The Network, convened by Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability, serves as a coalition of cities, towns and counties that meet to share best practices and support one another in their quest to become more sustainable, livable communities.  What started out as an exploratory meeting of ten desert communities in the summer of 2008, now includes 29 entities including cities, towns, tribal communities and Maricopa County, one of the largest counties in the country.  As the Network has continued to meet over the past two years, over 20 additional communities from around the state have expressed interest in joining the Network’s meetings and topic-specific discussions.