Is Portland getting left in the dust? A young sustainability professional’s take
By Ellen Dorsey, PSU Institute for Sustainable Solutions
Ellen Dorsey is with PSU's Institute for Sustainable Solutions.
I am part of a new professional development program at Portland State University’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS).
The program is designed to give recent graduates like me the opportunity to develop professional leadership and networking skills in industries associated with sustainability. I have been working on a variety of projects, including research and writing regarding the Northwest coal debate, the history of sustainability in Portland, university living lab program development, and strategic planning for sustainability at PSU.
Throughout my graduate program in urban planning at PSU, we were indoctrinated about the effectiveness — and challenges — of multi-sector partnerships and coordination. But, to my surprise, in all of Portland’s glory, beyond the green buildings and infrastructure, sustainable mobility and regional planning, there has been a significant disconnect between public and private initiatives that have stalled the progress of the region’s sustainable economy.
The city lacks innovative financing structures and policies, along with much-needed leadership from the private sector in sustainability initiatives. If this trend continues, Portland will soon be left behind by larger cities that have formed successful partnerships that catalyze high-impact projects.
In an attempt to address these shortcomings, Portland in 2011 created a Greenprint for the Metro Region. The regional economic development strategy centered on the advancement of green development and clean technology clusters.
Part of the Portland Metro Climate Prosperity Project, the document outlines seven strategic priorities for action to “create more linkages among key players around shared market interests, regional business planning and signature projects.”
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