Hawaiʻi Green Growth Executive Director Celeste Connors, University of Hawaiʻi President David Lassner and Kamehameha Schools CEO Jack Wong sign a memorandum of understanding that would empower Hawaiʻi students to help define and develop the state’s green workforce.

A new agreement will involve Hawaiʻi’s students in critical planning for green education and sustainability. A memorandum of understanding signed by University of Hawaiʻi, Kamehameha Schools and Hawaiʻi Green Growth bridges educational missions and begins to create pathways for local students to help define and develop Hawaiʻi’s statewide green workforce and education goal as part of the Aloha+ Challenge.

The public-private partnership between Hawaiʻi Green Growth and two leading educational institutions in Hawaiʻi seeks to bring students from private and public schools, the university and the community to the forefront of decision making in developing Hawaiʻi’s statewide sustainability framework.

“Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders, and it is vitally important that our youth be given the opportunity to help the state to craft its sustainability goals,” said UH President David Lassner.

“This partnership has the potential to transform how we as a community approach education and our workforce, where our keiki, our culture and our ʻāina are positioned at the center of our decision-making,” said Jack Wong, CEO of Kamehameha Schools. “I’m grateful that we get to participate in the process and with partners who share the same values.”

Celeste Connors, executive director of Hawaiʻi Green Growth said, “The next generation will be the leaders that carry the Aloha+ Challenge forward to 2030. We are committed to working with Hawaiʻi’s youth to address global challenges through place-based knowledge, education, and practical workforce development programs and curriculum.”

The Aloha+ Challenge

The outcomes of the new agreement should help define Hawaiʻi’s green workforce and education 2030 goals as part of the Aloha+ Challenge statewide sustainability framework.

The Aloha+ Challenge is a statewide commitment to sustainability, launched in 2014 with the leadership of the governor, four county mayors, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, State Legislature, and Hawaiʻi Green Growth public-private partners across the state. It builds on Hawaiʻi’s history of systems thinking, Hawaiian culture and values and successful track record on sustainability to outline six ambitious goals to be achieved by 2030 in clean energy transformation, local food production, natural resource management, solid waste reduction, smart sustainable communities (including climate resilience and livability) and green workforce and and education.

Details of the new agreement

Under the new agreement, there are four primary areas of collaboration

  • Youth Engagement: Create platforms for youth leadership and engagement in the Aloha+ Challenge Green Workforce and Education goal development process, as first step to involving youth leadership on all six Aloha+ Challenge sustainability goals;
  • Leadership Building: Create practical internship or workforce opportunities for UH and KS students with Hawaiʻi Green Growth and other network or local partners;
  • Educational Pathways: Develop an understanding of current and emerging workforce opportunities around sustainability and develop degree and certificate programs, including bridging from K12 to higher education, that prepare students for successful careers in these fields;
  • Statewide Action: Coordinate joint action on Hawaiʻi’s 2030 sustainability goals, including the online Aloha+ Challenge dashboard to track progress, provide accountability, develop shared policy and initiatives to drive implementation, and the adoption of the Aloha+ Challenge as a statewide sustainability framework.

—By Kelli Trifonovitch

University of Hawaiʻi, Kamehameha Schools and Hawaiʻi Green Growth representatives