Promoting Environmental Criteria For Economic Development

Center for a Sustainable Coast Partners with Conservation Research Institute and Georgia Conservation Voters

A partnership among Georgia Conservation Voters (GCV), the Conservation Research Institute (CRI) and the Center for a Sustainable Coast (CSC) has developed criteria to guide the One Georgia Authority and other public investments in rural economic development. The strength of the partnership comes in the geographic spread and broad range of missions of the partnering groups.

The initiative began more than a year ago, when the Center's executive director, David Kyler, drafted proposed environmental criteria to be used in state-assisted rural economic development, and forwarded them to Sam Collier at GCV/CRI for comments. Since then, Collier has augmented and expanded the criteria with additional considerations, which Kyler enthusiastically supported.

Georgia Conservation Voters is the political arm of Georgia's conservation and environmental movement, endorsing and supporting candidates who will protect Georgia's air, water and wildlife habitat (see article in this newsletter, "Don't Get Mad, Get Political"). Conservation Research Institute (CRI) is the educational partner to GCV, providing training on political skills and public education about environmental issues and their relationship to economic prosperity.

CRI and GCV intend to partner further with the Center in educating coastal citizens on these issues. CRI's ability to do this received a boost with a new Turner Foundation challenge grant, and CRI is now seeking matching funds to begin the project. The partner organizations plan to hold a workshop on environmental aspects of economic development sometime next year.

The first executive briefing on the Environmental Criteria for Public Investment in Economic Development took place in June in the Georgia Capitol. Sam Collier, GCV Executive Director and CRI President, briefed Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor on the criteria during a three-hour briefing on water issues. The Lt. Governor, who chairs the One Georgia Authority, was receptive to the concept of environmental criteria.

One particular area that caught Taylor's attention was the idea that preference points be given for projects that use existing, abandoned buildings in town centers rather than new construction on the fringe that would disturb natural areas, exacerbate traffic and further the decline of the downtown. Investment in water efficiency was another key issue that received interest during the briefing. This option was presented as an alternative to costly new reservoirs, which do not "make" water and in fact lose water due to evaporation.

The CSC/CRI/GCV partnership will continue, as GCV begins to make this an election issue for candidates. A Coastal Lobby Day at the Capitol is planned on January 31, the morning after the Georgia Environmental Council's Legislative Reception.

For more information, please contact Sam Collier at 404-522-8144, or or call David Kyler at the Center (912-638-3612),
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