Openlands’ Op-Ed in Crain’s Chicago Business Urges the Next Mayor to Prioritize the Environment


With one day left before Chicagoans choose their next mayor, residents hold the fate of the next four years of environmental policy in their hands. In a recent op-ed published in Crain’s Chicago Business, Openlands’ CEO Jerry Adelmann explains why Chicagoans are not exempt from climate-related risks and why environmental issues need to be taken off the back burner and made a priority by the next mayor.

The op-ed focuses on the following key ideas:

  1. Cities are on the front lines of climate change and as the third-largest city in the United States, Chicago has a responsibility to lead the world in creating a climate-resilient and environmentally friendly urban area.
  2. Chicago needs to reinstate a Department of Environment and create an overarching city plan to increase greenspaces and green jobs, and restore critical ecosystems like prairies and wetlands that improve water quality and support wildlife.
  3. Environmental justice, nature-based solutions, and regional collaboration need to be key areas of focus. The next administration needs to bring community leaders to the forefront of decision-making and create inclusive policies that protect historically marginalized communities.
  4. Growing and maintaining Chicago’s tree canopy should be a priority for the next mayor, as trees are one of the most basic and critical nature-based solutions to the climate crisis. The new mayor needs to provide staffing and support to the newly elected Urban Forestry Advisory Board and adopt the Board’s policy recommendations.
  5. Cities contribute to the biodiversity crisis through pollution, overexploitation, and habitat fragmentation. The next mayor needs to transcend political boundaries and pass habitat-friendly laws and policies across the metropolitan area.
  6. The Department of Environment should leverage the Inflation Reduction Act and help to identify, apply, secure, and manage new funds and serve as a regional hub for collaboration.

Crain’s Chicago Business subscribers can view the full article here.

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