Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson and a top Brazilian minister met in Philadelphia Friday to talk about urban sustainability.
Nutter, who touted his “Greenworks Philadelphia” program, said the way to make cities greener is to change the culture.
“I have no expectation that hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians will suddenly … pull out their Birkenstocks and tie-dye T-shirts, and run around hugging trees all day long,” Nutter said. “But I think people are getting the message … and everyone can do something in this space.”
The EPA, Rio de Janeiro and Philadelphia have a partnership aimed at identifying and increasing investment in green infrastructure.
Nutter traveled to Brazil over the summer to share ideas with leaders there.
Judith Rodin, head of the Rockefeller Foundation, said the goal is for the two cities to be models for sustainable growth around the world.
“If we can present a kind of recipe book for what economically productive, equitable, sustainable urban development looks like,” Rodin said, “imagine the impact on the cities in the developing world.
“In many parts of Asia, South and Southeast Asia, a new city is being built every 73 days,” she said.
During the discussion, Jackson said it is the federal government’s job to support, and not get in the way of, local sustainability efforts.
“We talk in big pillars about issues that confront us and challenge us, whether it’s water quality or air quality or climate change or toxic chemicals,” Jackson said. “But what touches the lives of American people is what it means to me on the ground.”
Earlier Jackson told reporters the agency had taken an “unusual role” by investigating possible water contamination in Dimock, Pa.
That was after state authorities told a local natural gas-drilling company it could stop shipping water there.
Residents claim their water wells have been contaminated by drilling activities.
Dimock residents and fracking protesters gathered outside the Academy of Natural Sciences before the event Friday to call on Jackson to send the community water.