Lessons from Pittsburgh: On the Road to becoming an Inclusive, Sustainable City
Having aspirations is important.
That’s true whether you’re a person, a business or a community.
In Pittsburgh, where I live and work, having aspirations is one of the reasons we’re experiencing our third Renaissance. Thanks in large part to a group of forward-thinking public and private partners who, in the 1980s, laid out a development plan for the region called Strategy 21, we’ve successfully transformed from an industrial economy into one for the 21st century.
The city is now diversified in energy, technology, medicine, education, even travel and hospitality.
And, because we’re home to Google, Facebook, Uber and a number of other tech startups emerging from our myriad of accelerators and incubators, we’re now a magnet for a different population of individuals with diverse backgrounds and interests that otherwise may not have considered the Pittsburgh region.
It’s hard to read a newspaper, magazine or blog these days without seeing Pittsburgh topping some new list — best place to live, coolest city to visit, best place to start a new business, top foodie city.
It’s all very heady.
Still, with all the progress we’ve made, we still face challenges. As the region grows economically due to these new and diverse industries, we’re in real danger of leaving people behind.
Keeping Pittsburgh growing and moving forward in an inclusive, sustainable way so that everyone benefits from its prosperity requires all of us — whether we’re business, community or civic leaders — to work together to set mutually beneficial goals.
As a company, Covestro adopted the 17 global United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) early on and has been using them as a framework to guide our business, R&D and social innovation. Because of our experience, we believed that the community could also benefit from applying the SDGs to achieve progress.
It’s something the City of Pittsburgh also recognized. Working on a parallel track, the city has developed its resiliency plan around the SDGs, called ONEPGH.
Moving the SDGs forward throughout the region, rooting them in Goal #17 — Partnership for the Goals — and bringing the business community on board is what Covestro’s THINC30 initiative is all about.
THINC30 is an annual summit that brings together Pittsburgh’s business, government, academic, philanthropic and nonprofit leaders to engage with one another to advance SDGs, like No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Quality Education and Equality here locally.
In 2017, when Covestro hosted the first summit, we were delighted but not surprised by the overwhelming response we received. That response has grown. Last year, 500-plus individuals registered to attend, with more than 100 of them representing industry.
These leaders know that despite Pittsburgh’s growth, we have ongoing issues with generational poverty, food insecurity, neighborhood gentrification and displacement, air quality and social justice, among others.
In our latest Takeaway report, which contains highlights from our 2018 summit, readers will see many of these issues brought to the forefront by some of the region’s leading change-agents who work every day to find solutions to these and other pressing issues.
Having these hard conversations can be difficult. But they can also be eye-opening. And, cathartic. In many ways, they’re the first steps to solutions, which we’re continuing to work toward.
I hope our experience in Pittsburgh can help cities across the country facing similar issues whose business, civic and community leaders want more inclusive societies, too.
If you’d like to learn more about THINC30 or access the Takeaway reports, please visit: www.covestro.us/thinc30.