In 2009, the city of Cleveland started a 10-year initiative to encourage residents and the community to design and develop economic, social and environmental well being.
This movement began after Mayor Frank Jackson signed the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement in 2006. At the time, over 1,060 mayors from all 50 states committed to beat the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is the international agreement for 192 countries to strive to combat climate disruption.
After that, Case Western Reserve University professor David Cooperrider invited Jackson to give the welcoming address at the first Global Forum on Business as an Agent of World
Benefit, which was also sponsored by the Academy of Management, Weatherhead School of Management and the United Nations Global Compact.
Although the mayor agreed to be the welcome address speaker, he made it clear that he primarily wants to attend the forum as a learner so that he could really understand the sustainability value concepts and practices.
After the forum, Jackson concluded some economic benefits would come to the table. He realized that the best companies in the world were already trying to find out how to use sustainability to improve their businesses.
Also, the mayor decided to invite sustainability organizations and representatives from around the Greater Cleveland area to the first Sustainability Summit in 2009, facilitated by Cooperrider and Dr. Ron Fry. Both men are members of the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value.
At the first summit, Jackson randomly announced, “Based on the highest quality collaborations I have ever seen in our city, I am going to make a commitment, as long as I am capable, that we will do this every year for the next 10 years.” Everyone at the summit gave the mayor a 10 minute standing ovation.
Right after the summit, Jackson created the Office of Sustainability, which is a cabinet level position, and the Sustainable Cleveland Advisory Council. Since then, many more working groups formed from this summit and committed their time to use collaborative problem solving to help retaliate against climate change.
In October of last year, Cooperrider, founder and chair of the Fowler Center, held the fifth-annual Summit of Sustainable Cleveland 2019. Hundreds of citizens from different areas of Greater Cleveland enthusiastically attended the conference and committed to Cleveland’s transformation. There were residents from local neighborhoods, businesses, government, education, nonprofits and sustainability advocacy groups present to help to turn this vision into a reality.
“The role of leadership is to create the environment to enable things to happen and then getting out the way to allow things to happen. You have to get out the way because once people believe their voices will be heard and that their work has value, they will get it done. As long as they stay within the framework of the vision, you let the people plug in where they have passion, “ said Jackson.