The Minnesota Environmental Quality Board is a coordinating Board for environmental issues that are being addressed by state government. EQB's members include Commissioners from 9 state agencies with environmental responsibilities and 8 citizen members. (Learn more about the EQB at this link.)
Every five years, EQB holds an Environmental Congress, where citizens are invited to meet with EQB members and staff to share their vision and concerns. This Congress was held on December 3 at Minnesota State University in Mankato. The goals of this Environmental Congress were to:* Explore leading science on climate change and what it means for Minnesotans
* Advance mutual learning among community members, state and local leaders, and a broad range of professionals on pressing climate policy issues
* Highlight innovative work taking place across Minnesota
* Create opportunities for dialogue and shared understanding
* Inspire meaningful climate action at the individual, community, and local and state government levels
About 200 people attended the Congress, either in person or virtually. There were many opportunities for discussion among the participants and with the members of the Environmental Quality Board. One highlight was a barn-burner of a speech from Minnesota Governor Tim Walz. In this speech, Governor Walz talked about the need to build infrastructure - roads, bridges, water treatment plants - to meet the threat posed by increased heavy rain events. He cited the sense of cohesion that was around the need for work on climate change in 2008, and said that now, if the federal government is going to move backwards, it's time for the states to step up. You can watch Governor Walz's speech at this link, running from .50 to 1.10 minutes (Walz's introduction begins at .45 minutes)
In the afternoon, attendees convened for the Open Spaces dialogue portion of the Congress. Attendees were invited to host conversations on topics that interested them. The topics were:
· Need for a nation-wide carbon tax
· City level solutions and climate action
· Building resiliency in the conventional agriculture matrix
· Climate and health
· Implications of Line 3 on climate
· Having meaningful discussions with people you disagree with
· How do we elect bold champions for a livable planet
· Natural climate solutions to reach MN’s emissions reductions goals
· Diversity in resilience planning
· How to make mass transit cool
· Greenhouse gas emissions accounting (methods, data)
· How to encourage inter-generational action on climate change
In each session, participants shared information and views on their chosen topics. Each topic was attended by an EQB member. This meeting format allowed for participants to 'set the agenda' for what was discussed. Possible topics were listed and those that got the most 'thumbs up' through the app "Slido" went forward to the Open Space dicussions. More information on the Congress will be coming out from EQB, we will update this post at that time.
The day ended with time for networking among the attendees.
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