Environmental Congress


Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2017 Environmental Congress!

The 2017 Environmental Congress was a unique opportunity to evaluate the state of our environment, revisit our environmental goals and expectations as Minnesotans, and set a course for the future. This day-long conference included sessions on topics ranging from pollinator health to adapting our regulatory tools, climate change to building a water ethic across the state. The agenda was built around the 2017 EQB Energy and Environment Report Card—an environmental status update on our air, land, water, climate and energy.


2017 Program

8:00-9:00 am  Registration

9:00-10:15 am  Congress Convenes/Opening Keynote

   Welcome from David Frederickson, Commissioner, MN Department of Agriculture & Chair, EQB
   Governor’s Welcome
   Keynote Speaker: Paul Douglas, Meteorologist and Founder of Aeris Weather

10:30-12:15 pm  Morning Breakout Sessions (5 concurrent sessions)


Vision to Action to Results: Minnesota’s Energy Actions to affect Climate Change
This session will provide an overview of achievements as a result of the 2007 Next Generation Energy Act and continued progress toward meeting the legislatively established goals. The session will move from current accomplishments to an overview of future strategies that will help Minnesota continue to meet and exceed its energy related public policy goals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that affect climate. Topics addressed will include:

  • De-carbonizing the grid and electric vehicles
  • Expanding diversity and inclusion in energy
  • Reaching rural communities and the small energy sector
  • Moving to a net zero energy built environment
  • Impacting energy use through effective community energy planning


Adaptation and Resiliency: How Do We Meet the Challenges of Minnesota’s Changing Climate?
The goals of this session are to better understand how Minnesota’s climate is changing and receive feedback on priority actions for state government in adapting to climate change. We will discuss how communities are being impacted, and how they are already taking action to become more resilient.  We will also explore how adaptation can have multiple environmental, social, and economic benefits.

Pollinator Policy: Opening the Door to Wider Participation
Pollinators are essential to Minnesota’s ecosystems, ways of life, and economy, but their populations are in decline. Reversing this trend requires participation from many sectors and communities across Minnesota. How do we “expand the buzz” on the pollinator issue to ensure broad and meaningful engagement? How do we bring new audiences to the table as we work on solving this challenging problem? And how can we work to keep lines of communication open among the diverse stakeholders contributing to developing pollinator policy? In this session, community leaders will guide small group conversations about how to reach new and non-traditional audiences.  We will also introduce the Governor’s Committee on Pollinator Protection and give an overview of the Environmental Quality Board’s first pollinator report. 

The Year of Water Action: Building the Water Ethic in Minnesota
In August 2016 Governor Mark Dayton kicked off a Year of Water Action in Minnesota, which encourages us to build a shared water ethic. One approach to this work is through building community relationships and attachment to place, sharing our stories, and highlighting the effectiveness of conservation efforts at the very local level. Come to this session to learn how a water ethic is essential to achieve clean water goals in Minnesota; experience story listening and storytelling; learn about Minnesota projects that use conversation, storytelling and relationship-building as key strategies; and make new connections with others interested in water around the state.

Transportation Evolution: Powering, Funding and Redesigning our Transportation System for Better Outcomes
This session will provide an overview of current trends in the transportation sector followed by three breakout discussions: 1) Power our Vehicles: a discussion of electrification and alternative fuels; 2) Future of Transit Funding and Governance: a discussion of the Citizens League’s forthcoming recommendations; 3) Redesigning our streets and roads: a discussion of changing design standards and efforts to increase the number of people walking, biking and riding transit.

12:15-1:30 pm  Lunch


1:30-3:15 pm  Afternoon Breakout Sessions (5 concurrent sessions)


Adapting our Regulatory Tools to the Needs of Today
Since the 1970s, environmental permitting and environmental review have been the cornerstone of environmental protection in Minnesota but much has changed since their inception. The regulated industries, the way that citizens engage with government, and even Minnesota’s environment, are not the same as they were 40 years ago. Should Minnesota’s environmental regulatory processes be modernized? And if so, how? Panelists consisting of government, business, and citizen representatives will discuss their experience and interaction with environmental permitting and environmental review, any challenges they have encountered, and opportunities they see in modernizing the regulatory process. 

The 2017 Environment and Energy Report Card in Action: Turning the Curve on Our Environmental Priorities
Explore the 2017 Environment and Energy Report Card and discuss how the metric frameworks can drive action. The session will include a behind-the-scenes look at how the E&E Report Card was developed and an overview of the underlying Results Based Accountability methodology. Session participants will then discuss how they can help “turn the curve” on our state environmental goals.

Approaches to Civic Engagement: Perspectives Across Sectors
This session will explore different perspectives of what engagement means & involves from a variety of sectors. Panelists will offer insight into the underlying assumptions about engagement, identify barriers related to those assumptions, and bring this into a more explicit conversation about effective engagement across sectors and cross-sector problem solving. 

Aligning Strategies for Effective Community and Local Government Planning
In this session, attendees will help identify gaps in existing tools and resources for supporting effective environmental community planning. From Greater Minnesota to the Metro, are we providing the right resources to help communities and local units of governments improve and protect the environment? How can we do a better job?

Accessing the Levers: Influencing Environmental Governance in Minnesota
A panel of state and local government officials will tackle how environmental governance works in Minnesota, and how citizens can be effective in influencing policy.  In addition to roundtable discussions, the session will include some humorous insight from the improvisational group, the Theater of Public Policy.

3:30-5:00 Featured Panel Discussion on Environmental Justice

The objectives of this panel will be to discuss the progress and shortfalls to date in advancing environmental justice work in the State of Minnesota, and determine key actions that can and should be taken in the foreseeable future to improve the State’s commitment to environmental justice.

5:00-6:00  Reception

Photo by Jeff Syme courtesy of Metropolitan Council