The Conference

Join us April 18-21 in Ithaca and Cortland for a major regional conference on making our communities more climate friendly and climate resilient.  Under the leadership of Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, a coalition of Cortland and Tompkins County nonprofits, colleges, businesses, youth groups, and local governments has formed to support ongoing planning and action on climate mitigation and adaptation.

The Climate Smart & Climate Ready conference will focus on how our local governments, institutions, residents and businesses can both lower fossil carbon emissions and prepare for multiple impacts of a turbulent climate regime.  Sustainable Tompkins has taken on responsibility for planning and coordinating the conference.

What’s At Stake

Climate disruption is underway in upstate New York.  Storm damage is on the increase.  Farms and forests face new pest pressures and harsh weather patterns. Public health agencies face upticks in several diseases.  Both our cherished landscapes and human communities are at risk.

The citizens of our region have a proud history of adapting to change and being good stewards of the land and water resources we depend upon for our health and sustenance.  Climate change will require us to tap into our traditions of self-reliance, mutual support, and civic duty.

Federal, state, and university research indicates that the rate of climate change is increasing rapidly, and many recommendations and resources are being crafted to help us transition.  But ultimately, it will be up to communities to engage in the work of preparing and protecting their economies, infrastructure, buildings, and social fabric for the turbulent years ahead.

Much is already underway, but we need to find ways to share information and prioritize actions for cost-effective ways to reduce risk and protect vulnerable populations and key assets.  This first step is a collaborative effort to bring people together over several days in April to learn about climate impacts expected for our region, best practices for responsible reduction of fossil fuel use, and opportunities to invest in clean energy and smart development.

All Hands on Deck

The conference opens the evening of Thursday, April 18 with a keynote presentation at the Hangar Theater in Ithaca featuring Mark Hertsgaard, author of “Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth.”  Mark will join panelists from academia and state government to talk about what actions are being taken at the state level.

Events on Friday, April 19 will be held in Cortland for the agricultural sector, and in Ithaca for the legal and medical professions.  Saturday will feature an all-day conference in downtown Ithaca with specific tracks developed for elected and appointed local government representatives, business and economic development interests, and community leaders.  A Youth Summit focused on the overlap between climate justice, economic justice, and social justice will take place on the Ithaca College campus on Saturday and Sunday.

On Sunday, April 21, families and citizens are encouraged to come celebrate Earth Day at the Ithaca Farmers Market and in downtown Cortland, and learn how they can share in the responsibility of coping with climate impacts while preventing additional damage to our atmosphere.

It Takes All Kinds

Everyone has a role to play in protecting and preparing our communities for climate change.  We are grateful to our sponsors for making the conference possible, and to Assemblywoman Lifton and the members of the coalition for working toward a shared understanding of what our region is facing and how we might simultaneously lessen the severity of climate change while coping with what has already been set in motion.  We thank our promotion partners for getting the word out to people throughout the Southern Tier, Central, and Finger Lakes Regions.

We hope you will join us.  Mark this site and your calendar.  We’ll be updating the schedule as details fall into place.  Tickets for Saturday are $20 for adults and $12 for students.