What is an Eco-City Charter?
The Eco-City Charter is a document that guides city leaders and residents towards a more sustainable, holistic, and healthy environment. It defines a community's commitment to sustainability and provides policy makers, staff, and community and business leaders with an overarching direction. Eco-City Charters include a set of essential sustainability principles and core values.
Eco-City Charter | City of Alexandria
On Saturday, June 14, 2008 the Alexandria City Council voted 7-0 to adopt the City’s and the Region’s first Eco-City Charter. Mayor Euille, Vice Mayor Pepper, and Councilmember Krupicka led the accolades for city staff, the Environmental Policy Commission (EPC) and Virginia’ Tech’s Department of Urban Affairs and Planning.
City Manager Hartman acknowledged it was the success of the Eco-City Café and Summit that nudged him and his staff to recognize the importance and value of sustainability. He announced that William Skrabek will now head a new Office of Environmental Quality and will serve as the city’s sustainability coordinator. One of Skrabek’s first tasks will be to work with the EPC, with assistance from Virginia Tech, to promote the Charter and establish a two-phased process to revise the city’s environmental action plan and set immediate priorities for the FY 2009 budget.
Skrabek, along with members of the council and the EPC stated that they could not have accomplished these tasks without the assistance of Professors Schilling, Mastran and McCarty. EPC Chair Fielder noted the overall team effort and contribution of the graduate students who worked on the project well beyond the minimum class requirements.
Professor Schilling observed that inspiration from Waitakere, New Zealand’s Mayor Bob Harvey and Director of Communication Wally Thomas were critical in giving local leaders and citizens a glimpse of what it means to be a true Eco-City. Skrabek presented the Council with a good example of how those ideas from Waitakere will take root in Alexandria when he suggested that his first priority for the next fiscal year would be a request to create a new position of Eco-City Educator to work with the local schools and the community on sustainability education.
Following the public hearing the EPC, Virginia Tech, and City staff will begin work on a Environmental Action Plan, to include concrete environmental actions the City will carry out over the next 10 to 20 years.
Beginning in spring 2007, the City of Alexandria partnered with Virginia Tech’s, Department of Urban Affairs and Planning graduate program to design and facilitate a strategic planning process that would result in a new Eco-City Charter to guide the city toward sustainability. Four primary sources of input feed the draft Charter:
- Facilitated discussions with the Environmental Policy Commission
- City Staff working groups
- Community input from the Eco-City Café
- Research and analysis of sustainability charters, policy plans, strategies, and resolutions from several cities and counties throughout the United States and abroad conducted by the Virginia Tech’s Spring 2008 Environmental Planning Studio class.
The draft Charter will be unveiled at the Alexandria Earth Day celebration on April 26, 2008. Members of the Alexandria Community will be able to provide feedback on the draft Charter during the Earth Day celebration, via on-line surveys, and by participating in the Eco-City Summit on May 10, 2008 at T.C. Williams High. The Eco-City Charter will be finalized in June 2008, and will be used to guide the development of an Environmental Action Plan as well as other plans and projects needed to achieve the Eco-City vision for Alexandria by 2020.
For more information on the research and development of Alexandria’s Eco-City Charter, please explore the following documents:
- The Matrix of Sustainability Charters summarizes 15 local government sustainability charters and plans reviewed by Virginia Tech graduate students.
- The Sustainability Charter Memorandum was sent to Alexandria’s Environmental Policy Commission by Virginia Tech graduate students on February 22, 2008. This document outlines the purpose, methodology and results of the students’ research and analysis; offers suggestions for the process of developing and presenting the Eco-City Charter; and provides a template for the Charter and examples for each section of the template.
- The Sustainability Charters Presentation was presented on February 21, 2008 by Virginia Tech graduate students to the Environmental Policy Commission.