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Updated: October 21, 2021

Upcoming GrowSmart summit to seek economic silver lining in climate action

people in a circle File Photo / Maureen Milliken GrowSmart Maine’s upcoming summit will assess climate actions in the face of climate change. Here, a group tours Mill 4 in Saco during GrowSmart Maine's 2019 Summit.

GrowSmart’s next annual summit has a mission to find opportunities in climate action amid the challenges posed by climate change. 

GrowSmart Maine’s 2021 Summit, scheduled for Nov. 4, will feature Devashree Saha  of the World Resources Institute, a global research nonprofit headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Saha will discuss climate action with a focus on engaging communities for a stronger economic future, according to a news release.

An expert in the economics of climate action, Saha will talk about the range of opportunities that a changing climate — and changing Maine economy — can bring.

Opportunities include newer industries such as offshore wind power, community solar, electric-vehicle charging stations and aquaculture. According to Saha, these are only the tip of the iceberg.

 “There is growing evidence that green investments generate new economic opportunities for communities of all sizes and in all regions, save money on businesses’ and families’ energy bills and foster job creation,” Saha said. “It should really be a no-brainer to prioritize investments in the green economy, especially in the wake of COVID-19 as governments look to reboot their economies.”

Saha is a senior associate at the World Resources Institute. In the role, she supports state, city and federal policymakers as they work to develop and implement policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support clean energy. That includes analysis of the economics of climate action, and work to develop policies to enable an equitable transition to a low-carbon economy.

Before joining the institute, she led the Council of State Government’s energy and environmental policy work where she was responsible for directing research and providing policy analysis and technical assistance to state legislators and executive branch officials.

Bringing additional perspective to the summit will be Kate Dufour, director of state and federal relations for the Maine Municipal Association. Dufour has a first-hand viewpoint on municipalities’ need for additional guidance and resources in finding local solutions to statewide issues such as climate action.

Multiple locations

In a continuation of last year’s summit, this years’ half-day event will be anchored in-person in Biddeford with satellite locations in Bangor, Calais, Caribou, Machias, Sidney, Rangeley and Rumford. It will also be fully virtual. 

For more information, click  here.

The event will begin with Brian Ambrette, senior climate resilience coordinator in the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, as he outlines funding opportunities for municipal action aligned with Maine’s climate goals.

According to GrowSmart Maine Executive Director Nancy Smith, GrowSmart invited Saha to the summit because many aspects of climate action have been touted as smart growth principles for decades. 

person at podium
Nancy Smith

“The conservation values of protecting forests, agricultural land, and natural habitats also support natural carbon sequestration, an area where Maine can shine,” Smith said.

“Creating more clustered, traditional village-type housing is more energy-efficient and directly supports conservation goals by reducing sprawl. And increasing access to walkable communities — sidewalks, bike paths — and community transit will reduce dependency on emission-producing automobiles. It’s a win-win.”


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