From food production to waste management, rural resources are critical to climate resiliency and sustainable development. Further, the impacts of climate change on rural resources and economies will have downstream effects on cities and their ability to achieve sustainable development and climate resiliency goals.

This interdependence is recognized in contemporary development agendas; however, city- and state-level implementation efforts often overlook opportunities to include rural stakeholders. Our goal is to address this need and advance the role of rural economies as contributors to climate resiliency and sustainable development.

The Sustainable Communities program builds and strengthens rural economic opportunity that is sustainable, resilient and climate aware. Specifically, we identify policies that have the potential to create value among rural resources, rural economies and urban markets, and then work to bring those opportunities down to local communities.

Our strategies include:
  • Cultivating leadership and building capacity of local leaders and entrepreneurs;
  • Increasing collaboration between rural and urban stakeholders through in-person and digital engagement; and,
  • Strengthening market and supply chain development through: identification of gaps and opportunities, support of relevant policies and investments, and leveraging the knowledge and capacity of our rural-urban networks

Our work in the craft beverage in New York State showcases our program in action. The program catalyzed in 2013 with the passage of state legislation promoting craft beverage production in New York State. A new market opportunity for farmers began to take shape as the number of small-scale beverage producers rapidly increased, and a trend towards local sourcing grew among larger beverage producers. However, the farmers and craft beverage producers had limited ability to find each other and collaborate. Industry and supply chain development were needed.

For the past four years our Craft Beverage Incubator programs have filled this gap, helping to: increase the representation and market share of rural suppliers in the sector; build a network of rural and urban industry stakeholders and increase their capacity of work together; and, spur network adoption of sustainable supply chain practices.

As we have learned, the supply chain of raw materials and inputs, along with a strong consumer connection, positions the craft beverage sector as a bridge connecting rural resources, rural economies and urban markets. Read more about it here.

For more information, contact:

Rebecca Platel, Program Manager