The City of Baltimore was named among the top ten most sustainable U.S. cities in SustainLane’s 2008 U.S. City Rankings. Among the factors making Baltimore a national leader was the creation of the Baltimore Office of Sustainability and Commission on Sustainability. Baltimore Councilman Jim Kraft sponsored legislation to create both the office and the commission. The 21-member commission represents community organizations, local nonprofits, labor, private industry, local institutions, and city government. It was charged with developing and implementing a comprehensive Sustainability Plan to help turn Baltimore into a cleaner, greener, healthier, and safer city. The plan is a roadmap for future legislation, educational programming, and public and private initiatives involving sustainability.
The commission created working groups, community conversations, a youth strategy, and a sustainability forum to gather input from all sections and perspectives within Baltimore. Ultimately, more than 1,000 citizens were engaged over an eight-month period. The commission gathered and analyzed ideas, studied best practices, and developed goals for a more sustainable city. The resulting Sustainability Plan lays out 29 priority goals within seven chapters: Cleanliness, Pollution Prevention, Resource Conservation, Greening, Transportation, Education and Awareness, and Green Economy. Each of the 29 goals is accompanied by a set of recommended strategies.
The plan lays out a broad agenda that, in addition to recommending strategies for reducing pollution and conserving energy, offers recommendations for creating a healthier community. Many of these strategies relate to food access, transportation, and the built environment and so may help reduce and prevent obesity. Implementation of the plan not only will make Baltimore a cleaner, greener, healthier, and safer city, but also has the potential to reduce and prevent childhood obesity.
SOURCE: Baltimore Sustainability Plan, http://www.baltimorecity.gov/government/planning/sustainability.
Local governments are in a unique position to improve the health of their communities by advancing local policies that have an impact on the availability of healthy foods and places for physical activity and that also limit less healthy options. Local governments have jurisdiction over land use, food marketing, community planning, and transportation. Today, communities with the highest rates of obesity often are places where residents have the fewest convenient opportunities to purchase