NLC’s Sustainability Program Celebrates Earth Day, Clean Water Act Anniversary Abroad

U.S. Delegation of Elected Officials to Share Best Practices with Germany and Sweden

by Raksha Vasudevan 

On April 22nd, communities around the world will join together to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day.

This week, NLC's Sustainability Program will celebrate Earth Day abroad while leading an International Sustainability Exchange, comprised of a delegation of six U.S. local elected officials to the cities of Stockholm and Malmö, Sweden and Hamburg, Germany. The purpose of this delegation is to recognize and celebrate existing sustainability achievements while also providing a platform to share successful strategies and innovative approaches to further the sustainability goals of city-led programs across the three countries.

Members of the delegation represent communities of varying sizes and geographies that have demonstrated significant commitment and achievements in pursuing comprehensive sustainability initiatives. The delegation includes Mayor Ralph Becker of Salt Lake City; Mayor Roy Buol of Dubuque, Iowa; Mayor Christopher Coleman of Saint Paul, Minn.; Councilman James Kraft of Baltimore; Councilmember Tom LaBonge of Los Angeles; and Councilmember Matthew Zone of Cleveland.

Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day has provided an important opportunity for individuals, local leaders, businesses, educational institutions, environmental groups and others to raise awareness of and reflect upon their relationship with natural resources.

For many communities, annual Earth Day celebrations provide an opportunity to take collective action to develop and carry out far-reaching environmentally focused initiatives, such as community-wide educational programs, waste clean-ups or tree-plantings or build on longer-term campaigns that connect global citizens around an environmental topic of interest.

This year, Earth Day coincides with another important landmark: the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Clean Water Act (CWA), which created a unique opportunity for cities and towns to commit to programs around water conservation, clean and potable water and water infrastructure.

NLC encourages cities and their leaders to help celebrate and raise awareness about the water issues important to their community. One opportunity for city leaders is the "Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation," developed by the Wyland Foundation and supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To participate, mayors sign a pledge to encourage water conservation and pollution reduction among their residents during the month of April. Additionally, the U.S. EPA has recently launched a website,, containing information about the Clean Water Act and ideas for community-led programs.

With Earth Day 2012 around the corner, NLC's Sustainability team applauds the work happening in cities across the country to promote sustainability through comprehensive approaches incorporating social responsibility, economic prosperity and environmental stewardship.

NLC encourages cities to continue this important work and to utilize the opportunity of this day to work closely with the range of community stakeholders - including residents, businesses, schools and community groups - to create lasting solutions to today's challenges by incorporating sustainability throughout city operations and neighborhoods. 

Details: NLC is asking cities to e-mail NLC's Sustainability Program at sustainability@nlc.orgto discuss initiatives planned in local communities to celebrate Earth Day and/or the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act. And be sure to follow @NLCgreencities on Twitter and NLC's blog at April 14 - 20 for daily updates from NLC's delegation to Germany and Sweden.