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Wednesday September 09 General

NYC Sustainability in the COVID-19 Era

By NYC & Company, Sustainable Travel and Tourism program partner

In the wake of Covid-19, millions of New Yorkers adopted new rituals to stop the virus’ spread: wearing disposable masks and gloves, ordering takeout instead of dining at restaurants and avoiding mass transit, among them. These habits, developed out of concern for personal safety, often seem at odds with the City’s pioneering progress in sustainability. But the threat from climate change remains real, and its potential impacts also represent a major public health crisis. 

As director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Mark Chambers has been shepherding the policy, legislation and behavioral changes that have made NYC the US capital of urban sustainability. He suggests that the City’s innovative response to the pandemic provides a model for action.

“The last six months have showed us that we are capable of enduring, adapting, regrouping, coordinating and resurging,” he says. “The lessons we learn in this temporary but devastating Covid response are invaluable in how we can and must work together to redouble our efforts to decarbonize our built environment, energy, food and transportations systems to protect our future.” 

NYC sustainability leaders are meeting the challenges of the moment with strategies that demonstrate resilience and determination. The experts we spoke with for this article offered advice to help visitors and residents navigate concerns about public health while supporting the NYC we love and our planet. See below for a mix of practical tips and big-picture perspectives in the categories of dining, events, accommodations and more. As Chambers says, an essential component of this phase of NYC sustainability is our recognition of the connections between well-being and justice:

“The pandemic and the protests against systemic racism that followed have underscored the fact that social justice and climate justice are intertwined. If we’re not effectively working toward making the lives of all New Yorkers better, safer and free from discrimination, then we’re going to be climbing up a larger hill of obstacles as we resist a changing planet.”

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