‘Changing the World’; it may seem lofty and idealistic. While the small things we do everyday for the environment like recycling and composting are making a difference, it’s hard to envision these contributions having real global impact. That’s why, this month, we are highlighting two businesses that have MONUMENTAL impacts on our community, our city, our country, and the world. With their influence in New Orleans and a global mindset, they are truly changing the world.
The busiest water way in the world is right here at home in New Orleans. More than 11,000 vessels and 500 million tons of cargo move annually on the Lower Mississippi River. To oversee this vital flow of goods, The Port of New Orleans is one of Louisiana’s largest economic power engines and employers in the city.
With this much national and global importance, not to mention a substantial environmental footprint, The Port of New Orleans has instituted several environmental initiatives. Last year, a North American environmental certification program for the marine, port and terminal industry, officially recognized the Port of New Orleans as a certified Green Port. The Port of New Orleans is now the 8th U.S. Port to reach certification in the voluntary environmental certification program. On a more local end, The Port of New Orleans has recently spearheaded a creative project called “By-You Drainscapes”. The initiative aims to engage citizens, artists, students, governmental agencies, businesses and community organizations in the New Orleans to enhance public awareness and water literacy through storm drain artwork in public places.
More on the important topic of water drainage. The Greater New Orleans’ Water Collaborative, a nonprofit organization, is making waves nationally. Led by Nathan Lott, the Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative is a diverse, multi-sector regional partnership actively working towards implementation of the principles of the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan and other water management best practices. Founded in 2014, the collaborative and its members integrate education, research, policy development, advocacy, and state-of the-art green infrastructure projects to ensure that the region sustainably lives and thrives with water.
Because of New Orleans’ unique environment, this water plan has been a site of national and global attention, recognizing that this region’s long-term sustainability depends upon urban water management efforts working in parallel with coastal protection, restoration and other measures to address severe weather and sea level rise. Thus, innovative methods from all over the nation and world are being studied by the members of the Collaborative to better the city and to become “America’s Water City”, leading the nation and the world in urban water management practices, design, and technologies.
Lott affirms that the most important aspect of this change and innovation is education. To achieve the goals of the Water Collaborative, Lott says, “We need widespread awareness. When people know about all the water issues in New Orleans and we educate the community; that’s what makes a huge difference in how people treat the environment.” Thus, Lott and the Water Collaborative have created programs, to educate youth on the importance of improving water management and to develop practical workforce skills for the implementation of such strategies and solutions.
In changing the world, I guess it comes down to learning about the issues to keep making those small changes for the environment. The Port of New Orleans ‘By-You Drainage’ and the Water Collaborative educational efforts allude to the fact that our community is an important resource for global change. Just simply looking at the environmental initiatives of globally impactful companies proves that our sustainable contributions, no matter how small, are powerful locally and globally.