The Garden State is fertile ground for the sustainable development revolution, with a long history as a leader in both solar energy and environmentalism. The push for clean technology and sustainable development is about to take off, with the United Nations officially establishing the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are set to run from 2015 - 2030. Over the next several years, the SDGs are going to create incredible business opportunities that we haven’t seen in decades.
Solar roofs. Wind turbines. Intelligent buildings and infrastructure. Electric vehicles. Clean farming. Legal cannabis. The NJ tech community has a huge opportunity to capitalize financially on the coming sustainable development and clean tech wave, restoring our state’s good name as an icon of American innovation. Will we seize this pivotal moment? If we’re going to, we must do it now, before other states leave us in the dust yet again. We can begin today by simply starting the conversation.
What better way to reclaim our brand as the Garden State, and make billions of dollars in the process, than by greening our economy? Take a look around you at all of the wasted space. So much of our urban infrastructure is dirty, decayed and depressed. It’s sad. New Jersey’s economic identity is at a major crossroads, according to Dr. James Hughes of Rutgers, author of New Jersey's Postsuburban Economy(2014). Yet, just recently we chose more fossil fuels to fund the corrupt and bankrupt Transportation Trust Fund. Hughes says that our state’s economic growth is tied directly to our (lack of) innovations and expansions in transportation.
Relying on incremental fixes in transportation to bring back a healthy and growing state economy is clearly not panning out. Instead of continuing to play this crooked game, let’s simply change the game instead, and look to re-establish our economic growth in other ways - such as sustainable development and clean technology.
New Jersey is still lagging severely behind in economic growth, because we are not focused. We’re letting this happen, and it’s time for a change. There must be a strong cleantech and sustainability presence at the 2017 Propeller Festival. We need to start talking more about cleantech and sustainability opportunities at our various tech meetups across the state. The NJ tech councils and committees need to start thinking green. While this year’s election has divided us all between red and blue, we are ignoring the other color that can actually make us great again.
Going back in time, our state’s unique history is both one of brilliant technological innovations, as well as an authentic identity deeply rooted in agriculture and nature. Ironically, here we are again, standing right at that exact same intersection in 2016 - with the opportunity to become wildly prosperous. Marketers and PR people across the state are still brainstorming around how to rebrand New Jersey. Staring us right in the face, sustainable development and clean technology can instantly transform both our brand image and our economy. Let’s embrace green energy and sustainable development, and become the Garden State once more.