Local governments play a central role in creating and maintaining vibrant, healthy, and strong communities. While serving as pillar institutions that provide critical community services, local governments also play an important role in innovation and sustainability, particularly in areas that strongly affect public health and community development, including water and sewer services, solid waste management, and energy consumption.
In order to rise to meet the unique challenges facing our communities, local governments must innovate to make North Carolina towns and cities places where change and growth are embraced. Innovation is an important tool in overcoming obstacles to sustainability that continue to grow in complexity. In its simplest context, sustainability means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Innovation is the act of introducing a new thing, method or idea that is replicable at an economical cost and that satisfies a special need.
On April 7, 2016, the North Carolina Department of the State Treasurer hosted a conference on “Sparking Sustainability and Innovation: Together, Let’s Build a Stronger Future”. The conference was designed to foster discussion around how innovation and sustainability are integral to creating and maintaining long-term stability for North Carolina communities.
The conference discussed sustainability in the broadest possible sense, based on the understanding that sustainable local governments are not built by one idea, one group, one principle or one philosophy. Rather, they are built by many elements of the unit working together interdependently with a belief that all are necessary to make their community sustainable – local governments capable of surviving and thriving over the passage of time.