Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney, City Council member Tom Lamar, and Moscow Streets and Fleet manager Tyler Palmer attended the ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability conference in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, April 10-12. The three were invited as panelists to speak about best practices toward environmental sustainability and opportunities for cooperation. As a member of the International Affairs Committee, and Chairman of the Latin American Task Force for the American Public Works Association, Palmer worked with officials in Mexico to coordinate participation and panelists for the event. His participation was paid by the APWA. Travel for Chaney and Lamar was supported by ICLEI-Mexico.
Chaney joined an international panel of dignitaries to welcome conference attendees. She spoke about cooperative management of ecosystem services and natural resources across local, state, and international political borders. She also addressed municipal authorities and public works experts on how to integrate community planning and policies to support multi-modal transportation.
Lamar spoke about infrastructure, public education, and amenities to support bicycling. Lamar expains, "It was exciting to have my remarks well received by leaders within Mexico. I understand that some people will move my comments into action to help develop bicycle infrastructure there. I was very impressed by the work in Mexico to improve lighting systems, and am bringing back those lessons to Moscow."
Palmer talked about Moscow's EcoDriver Program, to train City employees on common-sense driving practices that save money, lessen greenhouse gas emissions, prolong vehicle life, and enhance safety. Since its inception in 2010, the program has saved the City of Moscow almost $35,000 and more than 10,000 gallons in fuel, and reversed a trend of gradually increasing fuel consumption within the City's 195-vehicle fleet. Palmer notes, "My experiences representing the American Public Works Association in Mexico have been very gratifying. It is great to share ideas with people from different parts of the world, and learn new ways to approach challenges."
The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (now, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability) was founded in the United States in 1990. ICLEI-Mexico began in 2007. The association works with global partners to build local government capacity for sustainability in the areas of science, networking, technical support, policy, and communications that facilitate cumulative local actions toward environmental sustainability. Moscow joined ICLEI in 2007, to gain access to climate protection software and technical expertise to establish a measurable baseline for GHG emissions. In 2007, the City Council set a target for local government to reduce emissions by 20% below the 2005 base level by 2020. Objectives included lessening effects on global climate change and saving taxpayer money through improved energy-efficiency. Buildings, water/wastewater, streetlights, vehicle fleet, solid waste, and employee commutes were evaluated. LED retrofits to traffic signals in Moscow have lessened energy use in that category by 80-90%. By 2009, Moscow had reduced GHG emissions by nearly 12%, to just over 5,000 metric tons.
Chaney noted, "The City of Moscow is becoming a model for sustainable practices. We hope that our experiences can help others in their efforts, as we learn from them. This conference was a great opportunity to interact with our counterparts from ICLEI-Mexico on environmental issues that affect us all."