(BIVN) – The County of Hawaiʻi has officially created a new Office of Sustainability, Climate, Equity, and Resilience under the administration of Mayor Mitch Roth.
On Wednesday, Mayor Roth signed Bill 48, which was passed by the Hawaiʻi County Council.
From the County of Hawaiʻi:
In a step forward for the County of Hawaiʻi, Mayor Mitch Roth signed Bill 48 yesterday, July 26, officially establishing the Office of Sustainability, Climate, Equity, and Resilience (OSCER). With this action, Hawaiʻi County reaffirms its commitment to safeguarding the environment, combating climate change, and building a sustainable and resilient future for generations to come.
Bill 48, championed by Hawaiʻi County Council Chair Heather Kimball and Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas, represents a collaborative effort between County leadership, community advocates, and concerned citizens who recognize the urgent need to address the pressing challenges posed by a changing environment. The creation of the Office of Sustainability, Climate, Equity, and Resilience will play a pivotal role in shaping and implementing the County’s response to these challenges, as well as following through on its Integrated Climate Action Plan, which is currently being finalized following a period of public comment.
Speaking on the formation of the new Office, Mayor Mitch Roth stated, “In order to make sure that our keiki have a home where they can thrive for generations, we need to make sure that the anchors that keep them grounded here are preserved in perpetuity. Those anchors are things like our environment, culture, and natural resources — all of which will be the focus of our new OCSER. We know that too many of our kids are leaving, and we are committed to making it so that they only do so by choice and not by necessity.”
The Office of Sustainability, Climate, Equity, and Resilience will act as a central hub for coordinating efforts across various city departments and community organizations. It will work towards implementing innovative policies and programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote renewable energy, enhance energy efficiency, protect biodiversity, and fortify our infrastructure against climate change’s impacts.
“The design and mission of OSCER is a new approach that has been specifically developed in response to a two-year process to identify gaps between plan and implementation in the areas of sustainability, climate change, equity, and resilience,” said County Chairwoman Heather Kimball. “The Office will provide technical, policy, and resource support both internally and with our community partners, resulting in effective and coordinated progress. I think Bill 48 and the collaborative approach used to develop it represents best practice in public policy development.”
Additionally, the OSCER will collaborate with local businesses and residents to raise awareness about sustainable practices, foster eco-friendly initiatives, and advocate for responsible environmental policies. Through active community engagement and partnerships, this Office will strive to create a unified front in the battle against climate change and ensure a greener, healthier future for Hawaiʻi Island.
Councilmember Rebecca Villegas said, “Big mahalo to everyone who contributed to getting Bill 48 over the finish line. I’m deeply honored to have played a part in creating this progressive new Office of Sustainability, Climate, Equity, and Resilience. While we still have a lot of work ahead of us, I believe we are now better equipped to navigate and mitigate the challenges directly related to climate change.”
Mayor Roth extends his deepest gratitude to the members of the County Council, community leaders, and everyone who played a crucial role in the development and passage of Bill 48. He emphasizes that this momentous achievement would not have been possible without the collective dedication and commitment of all those involved. Chair Kimball added, “It was wonderful to see it come to fruition when Mayor Roth signed it on Wednesday.”
As we move forward with this new chapter in Hawaiʻi County’s history, Mayor Roth calls upon all residents, businesses, and organizations to unite to support the vital mission of the Office of Sustainability, Climate, Environment, and Resilience. Only through collective action can we hope to confront the challenges ahead and build a sustainable, resilient, and thriving future for our island home.
The County will provide further updates as leadership works to get the Office set up and staffed in the coming days.