Pacific Cities Sustainability Initiative (PCSI)

The Pacific Cities Sustainability Initiative (PCSI) is a collaborative forum that harnesses the expertise of Pacific Rim cities in sustainable development to facilitate collaboration and sharing of best practices among businesses, governments, academia, and the public. PCSI aims to stimulate substantial behavioral change—in the government, business, and academic sectors, as well as by the public at large.


PCSI’s founding partners are: Asia Society's Northern and Southern California Centers, the Centers for International Business and Educational Research (CIBER) at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and the University of California at Los Angeles’ Anderson School of Management, and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities’ World Institute (AWI).

Importance of the PCSI

Global development over the next 50 years will be concentrated in Pacific Rim cities, which represent both the problem and the solution to many environmental concerns such as clean water, energy efficiency, air pollution, and security. Balancing economic growth and environmental protection requires community leaders to cooperate in crafting solutions and taking action. PCSI connects business leaders, policy-makers, academics, students, and the public in a forum for the next four years to serve the development interests of California and cities around the Pacific Rim.


PCSI aims to educate municipal decision makers as well as the general public around the Pacific Rim by fostering on-going dialogue and sharing best practices on urban sustainability. As an objective clearing-house on urban sustainability, PCSI will support municipal projects, public-private partnerships, and outreach initiatives to connect cities throughout the Pacific Rim.

What Makes the PCSI Unique

Our people and partners: PCSI actively engages and seeks new partnerships with scientists, researchers, students, business, non-profits and government leaders around the Pacific Rim. Our founding partners and advisors have strong international and interdisciplinary reputations, which uniquely positions us for multi-country and multi-sector dialogue. In addition to our strong international presence, we are one of the few initiatives that bridges northern and southern California.

* Data plus Dialogue: From a non-advocacy stance, PCSI compiles, compares and shares municipal-level sustainability data and use the numbers and the experts to tell the story of what works and what fails to produce results.

Next: Identifying five core areas of focus

"Road Map"

The PCSI has identified five core areas of focus: Water, Transportation, Clean Energy, Green Buildings and Green Infrastructure. Each year, PCSI will focus on one of these areas through public forums with experts, compiling existing research and pilot studies, and then holding a culminating, full-day conference. The proceedings from each year will be developed into chapters of a guidebook to municipal sustainability for cities of the Pacific Rim. At the end of the five years, all five chapters will be updated, integrated, and assembled to create a manual for municipal decision makers.

Along the way, data and information with be compiled on the PCSI website and available to the public. Between forums and conferences, PCSI will develop new ways to continue the dialogue between geographically disparate experts and practitioners.

Next Steps

  • Hold a summer meeting on city sustainability metrics (August 23, 2010). This working group, scheduled for late July/early August, will inventory city-level sustainability data already available and discuss their viability. Then the group of sustainability data experts from around the globe will discuss where PCSI can make the greatest contribution to the existing datasets and the viability of competition based on cross-boundary metrics.
  • Plan and host water-energy nexus conference in LA in the Fall (tentatively December 2010) It will convene experts from around the Pacific Rim to discuss and share best practices for reducing water and energy consumption and to showcase promising projects.

Northern California Project Proposals

* Annual Conferences/Forums—provide opportunities around the Pacific Rim for municipal sustainability professionals and experts to share information and develop relationships that facilitate and enrich on-going cross-regional exchanges of experience and expertise. Each conference will analyze in depth, one aspect of sustainability.

* White papers/Sustainability Manual for Cities—Edit and compile presentations and dialogue from conferences to create a booklet to help local leaders take information from the PCSI meetings to continue the conversations in their home cities. Each conference becomes a topical chapter.

* City Metrics/ Rankings—seek to empower and incentivize municipal authorities to institute change through instituting a series of awards for sustainability improvements in key sustainability metrics. PCSI will describe and track a set of sustainability trends for each participating city, rather than combine these trends into a single sustainability index score for each city. Perhaps PCSI could present awards to cities based on their progress on each sustainability trend, e.g., air pollution, water pollution, traffic congestion, etc.

* Organize mayoral training programs

Southern California Project Proposals

* Website/Ongoing Dialogue—Interactive data-hub. Create a number of tools that facilitate and encourage municipalities to continue to share their experiences and offer a list of resources. Improve inter-disciplinary communications within cities, such as architects, urban planners, policy makers, professors, and students.

* "Learning journeys"

* Create and cement relationships between people within the PCSI and those across the Pacific Rim through physical and virtual contact

* Student Competitions—Interdisciplinary and international student projects and competitions aimed at making cities more sustainable, initially based in PCSI partner universities, USC and UCLA and perhaps UCSD. PCSI partner, the Association of Pacific Rim Universities World Institute—the research arm of a consortium of 42 leading research universities in the Pacific Rim—could be a key connecting vehicle for PCSI to attract leading Pacific Rim universities to participate in PCSI activities.


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