The State Environmental Council has released its annual report for 2015-2016 on Hawaiʻi’s environment. The report identifies environmental priorities for the State and makes important recommendations on measuring sustainability.
The Environmental Council is tasked with submitting to the governor and legislature a report on the state of the environment. This year’s report, which covers 2015 and 2016, discusses the status of Hawaiʻi’s progress towards a more sustainable future. The report uses the State Environmental Policy (Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes Chapter 344) to look at the common elements of Gov. David Ige’s Sustainable Hawaiʻi Initiative, the Aloha+ Challenge, and the Mālama Honua Promise to PaeʻĀina. These initiatives are then placed in a global context through a review of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the World Conservation Congress “Hawaiʻi Commitments.” The Environmental Council identifies the common elements of these sustainability approaches as: Ocean, ʻŌhiʻa, and ʻOhana.
“We are delighted to receive this report on the State’s environmental progress,” said OEQC Director Scott Glenn. “We greatly appreciate Environmental Council members working on this. They are all volunteers active in their careers and communities. This report helps make sense of the great sustainability efforts underway in Hawaiʻi and how they connect with worldwide sustainability.”
The report also continues the Environmental Council’s focus on the Genuine Progress Indicator for Hawaiʻi. The work of Dr. Regina Ostergaard-Klem of Hawaiʻi Pacific University and Dr. Kirsten L.L. Oleson of the University of Hawaiʻi is highlighted as a means of measuring our sustainability. The Genuine Progress Indicator complements Gross Domestic Product in monitoring our wellbeing in terms of economy, environment, and society. Moreover, there is an opportunity to integrate the Genuine Progress Indicator with the performance indicators in the Aloha+ Challenge to synthesize the various goals into a comprehensive metric that can be compared to Gross Domestic Product.
“The development of quantitative metrics, such as the Genuine Progress Indicator and the Aloha+ Challenge Dashboard, for measuring the State’s environmental performance, will help guide public policy throughout the State of Hawaii,” said Chair Joseph Shacat. “When fully implemented, these tools will provide additional context for the wise use of limited taxpayer dollars.”
The Environmental Council has several critical functions that affect the environment and development across Hawaiʻi. The Council is a liaison between the Director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC) and the general public. The OEQC’s Director Scott Glenn regularly advises Gov. Ige on environmental matters. The Council also monitors the progress of the state in meeting its environmental goals through the publication of its annual report on the state of Hawaiʻi’s environment. It creates the administrative rules for Hawaiʻi’s environmental impact statement (EIS) process and vets state and county agency lists for actions that can be considered exempt from having to prepare EISs or environmental assessments (EAs).
The full report is available at: http://health.hawaii.gov/oeqc/.
Additional information about the Environmental Council is available at http://health.hawaii.gov/oeqc/environmental-council/. The Council normally holds its meetings on the second Tuesday of every month.