The Office of Sustainability recently had the opportunity to attend the 2019 Greater Houston Environmental Summit. The conference was hosted by the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition (CEC), a cohort of nearly 150 environmentally-focused organizations in the Houston-Gulf Coast region, and sought to showcase how Houston has been working towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
From business incubators like Impact Hub, to umbrella groups like the Coalition for Environment, Equity and Resilience (CEER), the Houston area is blooming with opportunities for sustainable development.
The conference provided thoroughly engaging presentations from start to finish including one of particular note given by Thomas Garcia-Prats. The co-founder of Small Places, Garcia-Prats provided a number of practical ways on how individuals can (re)think climate change in their everyday lives.
- Reframe the problem
One of the obstacles to sustainable action can be a perception that the problem is too big to solve, but this can be reframed. For instance, instead of phrasing problems of food security by asking “How will we feed billions of people by 2050?” think of the problem more locally, by asking “How are we planning to feed our communities?”
- Redefine local
Garcia-Prats encouraged attendees to “think globally, but act locally”.
“Achieving “Zero Hunger” (a Sustainable Development Goal), for instance, won’t be gained by any one single solution. It will require everyone to consider how they would approach the problem within their own local communities.”
- Small things are worth doing
Like point #1 Garcia-Prats reiterated that taking on small activities in sustainability are just as important as the major issues. Most importantly, small things give community stakeholders an opportunity to find a purpose in sustainable development.
- Reframe the solution
Solutions should create more solutions; i.e. sustainability action should create positive feedback loops. As one of the founders of Finca Tres Robles, Garcia-Prats has seen that, “the farm is about more than food. It regularly hosts field trips, classes, and workshops. La Finca isn’t just a producer, but an educator, as well. Thus generating change beyond its core practice.”
- Be patient
Lastly, Garcia-Prats says “think small and be patient. Solutions aren’t going to happen overnight.” However, he went on to remind attendees that ambition is still healthy. For example, Garcia-Prats intends on making Houston the urban farming capital of the world, but that starts with one urban farm at a time.
For more information on the conference and the speakers, including presentation materials and a full list of community partners, visit the CEC’s event page.