Northeast Midwest Institute Hosts Annual Great Lakes Summit

Hosted with The Nature Conservancy as Summit Sponsor

The Northeast-Midwest Institute held the annual Great Lakes Environmental Summit in February, an event which serves as a premier gathering of Great Lakes stakeholder organizations to discuss the upcoming federal legislative and regulatory agenda.  This year The Nature Conservancy and its Great Lakes chapters served as the Summit’s primary sponsor, while Ducks Unlimited and GEI Consultants cosponsored the event.  With attendance over 70 participants, this year’s Summit was held virtually due to the Covid pandemic.

Kicking off the Summit was Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-9), who serves as Co-Chair of the bipartisan and bicameral Great Lakes Task Force, and discussed upcoming opportunities to address key Great Lakes environmental and economic issues within the new Congress and with the new Administration. Rep. Kaptur pointed out that President Biden has appointed several key cabinet positions from former Great Lakes public officials, including former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm as Secretary of Energy; Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; and the former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, as Secretary of Transportation.

Key topics discussed during the summit included the FY 2021 and FY 2022 appropriations and budget cycles, environmental justice, conservation, environmental restoration, economic development, climate change, resiliency, and water infrastructure issues. Key Congressional staff proved updates on these and other topics, while also providing updates on potential future Congressional actions. Additionally, the Great Lakes National Program Office provided brief overview about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).

The Nature Conservancy, which is one of the most effective and wide-reaching environmental organizations in the world, has continued to be a leader in providing critical resources to protect the world’s largest source of freshwater. For over 65 years, The Nature Conservancy has protected more than 100 sites throughout the Great Lakes, including prairies, savannas, forests, wetlands and rivers, as well as working collaboratively with farmers, foresters, elected officials, agencies, and communities across the region to protect this globally significant freshwater ecosystem.  Representing The Nature Conservancy in opening the Great Lakes Summit was Scott Sowa, Ph.D., Great Lakes Director, with representatives of seven TNC Great Lakes chapters in attendance.

NEMWI also recognizes and thanks this year’s Great Lakes Summit co-sponsors:  Ducks Unlimited and GEI.  Ducks Unlimited is the world’s leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation. Since 1937, DU has conserved almost 15 million acres of waterfowl habitat across North America. GEI Consultants serves as a leading consulting engineering and environmental firm that delivers value by providing professional services to improve our world’s built environments. GEI is a leader in providing multi-disciplined engineering and technical services to a range of private and public sector clients domestically and abroad.