Kenney: Greenworks will help build sustainable, equitable Philadelphia

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DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

By Jim Kenney

Eloi Caba, a 22-year-old native of the Dominican Republic who grew up in North Philly, knows first-hand how sustainability can revitalize our community.

Last year, he joined PowerCorpsPHL, the city's environmental stewardship and workforce development program for at-risk youth. There Eloi learned valuable skills as an assistant crew leader, maintaining green stormwater infrastructure in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia. Now he's a fellow at the Trust for Public Lands, and wants to go to college to study stormwater management. For Eloi, this green job training program was a pathway to economic opportunity.

Like Eloi, all Philadelphians deserve the benefits of a sustainable city. So today we are releasing our new plan, Greenworks: A Vision for A Sustainable Philadelphia. Building on important progress over the past decade, Greenworks sets eight long-term visions to create a healthier, greener, more sustainable Philadelphia for all:

A city where all residents have access to healthy food and drinking water.

A city that is reducing carbon pollution and is prepared for climate change.

A city where everyone has access to clean, affordable energy.

A litter-free Philadelphia that wastes less and recycles more.

A place where we all can breathe clean air.

A city where everyone has access to quality parks and open space.

A city where every resident has access to safe and affordable transportation.

And a city that offers sustainability education as a route to employment and economic opportunities.

The goal is to ensure that every Philadelphian - no matter what neighborhood they live in - is able to thrive and succeed, like Eloi has. Our new strategy will prioritize work in neighborhoods where it will make the most difference.

Not every community enjoys the benefits of sustainability, such as well-maintained parks and sidewalks, tree canopy, access to healthy food, or litter-free streets. So we will focus on our most vulnerable, underinvested neighborhoods to improve conditions where the most severe inequities exist.

In every neighborhood, the benefits will be tangible. Becoming a cleaner, greener city will reduce the number of children who suffer asthma attacks, lower energy costs, increase access to healthy food, prevent basement flooding, and create job opportunities in the clean economy.

And we must plan for the impact of the greatest challenge: climate change, which will make our summers hotter and our winters wetter; the rising sea level will put our waterfronts and low-lying neighborhoods at risk. By cutting energy waste and investing in renewable energy, we can do our part to reduce these harms.

We know these eight visions won't be achieved tomorrow, or in eight years, and local government can't do it alone. Neighborhoods, businesses, schools, churches, and citizens like Eloi Caba are all part of the solution. Together, we can build a sustainable, equitable, and vibrant Philadelphia.

Jim Kenney is mayor of Philadelphia. James.Kenney@phila.gov@PhillyMayor