New Hawaiʻi County sustainability office officially established with Roth’s signature

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Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth on July 26 signed Bill 48 into law, officially establishing the new Office of Sustainability, Climate, Equity and Resilience.

Hawaiʻi County Mayor Roth signs Bill 48, which created a new Office of Sustainability, Climate, Equity and Resilience, with Hawaiʻi County Council Chairwoman Heather Kimball, left, and Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas in attendance. (Photo courtesy of Hawai’i County)

The measure, championed by Hawaiʻi County Council Chairwoman Heather Kimball and Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas, represents a collaborative effort between County leadership, community advocates and concerned citizens who recognize the urgent need to address the challenges posed by a changing environment.

The new agency will play a pivotal role in shaping and implementing the County’s response to these challenges, as well as following through on its Integrated Climate Action Plan, which is currently being finalized.

“In order to make sure that our keiki have a home where they can thrive for generations, we need to make sure that the anchors that keep them grounded here are preserved in perpetuity,” Roth said. “Those anchors are things like our environment, culture and natural resources — all of which will be the focus of our new [Office of Sustainability, Climate, Equity and Resilience]. We know that too many of our kids are leaving, and we are committed to making it so that they only do so by choice and not by necessity.”


The new office will act as a central hub for coordinating efforts across various county departments and community organizations. It will work toward implementing policies and programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote renewable energy, enhance energy efficiency, protect biodiversity and fortify infrastructure against the impacts of climate change.

Kimball said the design and mission of the agency is a new approach developed in response to a two-year process to identify gaps in the areas of sustainability, climate change, equity and resilience. It will provide technical, policy and resource support internally at the County and with community partners.

“I think Bill 48 and the collaborative approach used to develop it represents best practice in public policy development,” Kimball said, adding “it was wonderful” to see the new office come to fruition with Roth’s signature.


Additionally, the Office of Sustainability, Climate, Equity and Resilience will collaborate with local businesses and residents to raise awareness about sustainable practices, foster eco-friendly initiatives and advocate for responsible environmental policies.

“I’m deeply honored to have played a part in creating this progressive new Office of Sustainability, Climate, Equity and Resilience,” Villegas said. “While we still have a lot of work ahead of us, I believe we are now better equipped to navigate and mitigate the challenges directly related to climate change.”

Roth calls upon all residents, businesses and organizations to support the mission of the sustainability office and confront the challenges ahead with a unified front to build a sustainable, resilient and thriving future for the Big Island.


The County will provide additional updates as leadership works to set up and staff the new office.

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