Sustainability plan from 2013 exceeds goals

Mar 16, 2017

In 2013, the city of St. Louis launched its sustainability plan, setting  29 goals to be accomplished by 2018. At a progress report Wednesday, Mayor Francis Slay and Catherine Werner, sustainability director, gave an update on how the program is going.  

Slay, speaking at the Missouri Botanical Garden's Sputnik Pavillon, said that most of the sustainability goals have already been achieved. Many of them exceeded expectations, he said.

Goals include planting trees,  increasing access to green spaces and ending chronic homelessness.

Bike lanes, for example, have increased by more than 200 percent since 2013, to 47.5 miles from 14.7.

"That's a difficult thing to do in an already built environment," Slay said. "... now we're more mindful of the importance of having more alternative modes of transportation than we had in the last 40 years."

In a detailed presentation, Catherine Werner showed the progress of all 29 goals.

While some goals exceeded expectations, others are on the right track but not accomplished yet, she said.

Reducing greenhouse gas is one example. Between 2005 and 2015, the city has reduced gas emissions by 11 percent. The goal is to get it down by 80 percent in 2050.

"This is a good start, and it has not been easy getting to 11 percent," Werner said. "We are heading definitely in the right direction."

It will have to be a colossal effort, she said. Three percent of the overall greenhouse gas emissions in St. Louis come from city-owned buildings and vehicles; the rest comes from the community at large.

“The climate protection efforts are going to be a heavy lift for all of us if we’re going to try and be more sustainable over time and to account for growth within the city,” she said.

Having a plan to reduce gas emissions gradually over the years makes room for economic growth but also saves money and resources in future years, Werner said.

Through the sustainability plan, St. Louis is focusing on healthier living and integrating nature into people's everyday lives. This is part of why St. Louis is now a member of the Biophilic Cities Network, a project that recognizes cities that integrate nature into its policies.

Tim Beatley, founder and director, announced the partnership on Wednesday at the Botanical Garden.

Tim Beatley (middle), director of Biophylic Cities Network, gives certificate to the City of St. Louis to Mayor Francis Slay and Catherine Werner, sustainability director, at the Missouri Botanical Garden in the Spink Pavillon on Wednesday.
Credit Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

Beatley said fostering nature is essential to healthy urban living, and St. Louis’ sustainability plan reflects these values.

“The whole variety, the whole range of sustainability actions [St. Louis has] taken, connecting to nature is one part of that. And that’s where we sort of come in the Biophilic Cities Network.”

St. Louis joins other cities around the world such as Singapore, Washington D.C. and Austin to be a member of Biophilic Cities Network.

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