Smart, Safe Growth Training builds capacity and creates advocates for sustainable development

ANNOUNCEMENTS | August 18, 2022

In-person attendees of the Smart, Safe Growth (SSG) Training come together for a group photo after completing Module 5: Train the Trainer.

From July 19 to 28, over 90 individuals from various government agencies and organizations participated in a training centered around “Smart, Safe Growth” (SSG). SSG is a set of complementary development strategies and practices focused on improving the resiliency and recoverability of the built environment.

For the CNMI, coordinated efforts by government agencies and developers to implement SSG into their plans and projects will help to ensure that the built environment is more resilient when faced with extreme weather events such as typhoons and more adaptable to climate change.

The training was facilitated by the Office of Planning and Development (OPD) and Nimbus Environmental Services, who authored the SSG Guidance Manual for the CNMI through extensive and iterative engagement with CNMI regulatory agencies. The creation of the SSG Guidance and portions of this training were supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The training was separated into six modules with repeating “hybrid” sessions, allowing for maximum agency attendance and participation.

Modules 1 to 4 gave training attendees an in-depth look into what SSG is and the benefits of implementing it in the CNMI. These modules focused on SSG's connection to the Comprehensive Sustainable Development Plan (CSDP) , the SSG Guidance Manual, and SSG in the context of applicable CNMI government agencies' regulations.

In Module 5, training attendees were provided resources and taught communication techniques to support advocating for and training colleagues in SSG. Afterward, training attendees were given the opportunity to practice their skills and teach back material from the previous modules to fellow attendees and the trainers.

Module 6, which was hosted in the Department of Public Lands' conference room, was a hands-on tutorial of a web-based SSG evaluation tool available on the ArcGIS Survey123 platform that leads users through criteria and questions to quantify a project's conformance with SSG. The evaluation tool is still in development, and one objective is to integrate it into the CNMI government's EnerGov system to ensure quick and simple access to the tool.

Once fully developed and integrated, the Survey123 evaluation tool can be used by planners, designers, government officials, and private sector developers during project scoping to ensure that environmental conditions, regulatory requirements, and the resiliency of the built environment are considered and addressed.

The SSG training and its outcomes support goals for the CNMI outlined in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, SDG #13: Climate Action, and SDG #17: Partnerships for the Goals found in the CNMI's Comprehensive Sustainable Development Plan (CSDP).

Well-planned and strategic land use and infrastructure development is especially critical for the CNMI, given its limited land mass and many, sometimes competing, land use needs. Through sustainable development and implementing SSG, effective land use can be possible. Under SDG #11, goals for the CNMI revolve around creating communities that are inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.

Goals under SDG #13 include launching a SSG toolkit on the OPD website by 2023 and holding at least three SSG trainings for CNMI agencies and stakeholders by 2025.

One goal under SDG #17 is for OPD, the Department of Commerce, the Planning and Development Advisory Council (PDAC), and other planning partners to endorse sustainable development and Smart, Safe Growth when identifying priority projects that will support economic diversification and growth in the CNMI in the 2021-2025 Commonwealth Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) update and future plan revisions.

The CSDP is a guiding document that outlines visions, goals, and objectives for the CNMI's leadership, agencies, and stakeholders to work towards the shared outcome of “sustainable development”. SSG and its key concepts are adopted into the CSDP, and the CSDP is built around SSG.

Planning resources that support the implementation of SSG in the CNMI, an in-depth look into several CNMI government agency regulations that tie back to SSG, and more are discussed in the SSG Guidance Manual found here.

Snapshots from the SSG Training
Lena Schnell

Lena Schnell of Nimbus Environmental Services provides an overview on the CNMI Comprehensive Sustainable Development Plan (CSDP)...

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Mod 5

Office of Planning and Development's Luis Moreno, third from left, teaches back Smart, Safe Growth (SSG) concepts to his group of fellow training attendees...

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Mod 5 - Regino Celis

The Infrastructure and Recovery Program's (IRP) Regino M. Celis Jr. teaches back Smart, Safe Growth (SSG) concepts to his group of fellow training attendees...

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Mod 6

Lead Planner for the Office of Planning and Development Erin Derrington, center, references the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality's (BECQ) Public Permitting App...

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Peter Peshut

Nimbus Environmental Services' Peter Peshut introduces training attendees to a Smart, Safe Growth (SSG) evaluation tool during Module 6 of the SSG Training.

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