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  • By Johanna Salinas

Guam seeks to become a hub for upcycled products

Top row, from left, Guam Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio, University of Guam President Dr. Thomas Krise, Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, UOG Center for Island Sustainability Director Dr. Austin Shelton, Hawaii Gov. David Ige, Marshall Islands President David Kabua, 35th Guam Legislature Speaker Tina Muña Barnes, G3 Coordinator Lauren Swaddell, Hawaii Green Growth Executive Director Celeste Connors, GLISPA Executive Director Kate Brown.


The goal is to clean up the environment and turn trash into an economic opportunity for Guam, according to Dr. Austin Shelton, director of the Center for Island Sustainability.

Shelton, who co-chairs the Guam Green Growth 3 (G3) steering committee with Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio, said disclosed plans to develop an upcycling center at the Chamorro Village in Hagatna.

“This will be a place where entrepreneurs can gather in a markerspace filled with tools and equipment to transform waste products into marketable products using 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC routers, heat presses that can turn discarded banana trees into wallets, plastics into tiles, bricks or trinkets, taking betel nut palms and turning them into plates to offset Styrofoam, discarded lumber into tables and trophies and much more,” Shelton said.

The proposed project is among the components of the G3 Action Framework, which was signed and adopted by

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and Tenorio on Wednesday.

The framework is a 10-year action plan to achieve a sustainable future for Guam in compliance with the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“To preserve Guam for tomorrow, we need to start today. As we sign the G3 Action Framework, Guam is ready to take our place at the global forefront of island sustainability," Leon Guerrero said during an internationally attended virtual signing event held Wednesday.

"This year marks the start of the decade of action, a critical 10-year window to act on the most significant global sustainability challenges before 2030. We are proud to be taking local action to achieve global impact,” the governor said.

G3 seeks to advance tangible solutions to sustainability challenges and contribute to a green economy for the island.

“G3 is creating a circular economy makerspace and innovation hub at the Chamorro Village where entrepreneurs will be able to gather…with tools and equipment to transform waste products into marketable products. In a time of business closures and rising unemployment, G3 will give our people an ownership role in the new green economy and the transition toward a cleaner, more sustainable Guam,” Tenorio said.

The G3 Action Framework was developed by the G3 Working Group, composed of 97 members representing government agencies, academia, nonprofits, businesses, and youth.

The framework is a compilation of hundreds of goals and objectives focused on five categories of action—1) Healthy and Prosperous Communities; 2) Educated, Capable, and Compassionate Island; 3) Sustainable Homes, Utilities, and Transportation; 4) Thriving Natural Resources; and 5) Sustainable Alliances. Cross-cutting elements are incorporated into all categories—climate action, resilience, public engagement, policy, and the core CHamoru values of respect, cooperation, and treating others with kindness, generosity, and dignity.

The G3 Working Group was established in September 2019 through Executive Order 2019-23, and its facilitation was assigned to the University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability.

"We have the crisis of climate but we also have a crisis of public health, an economic crisis, a crisis of democracy, and a crisis of the international order,” said UOG President Thomas Krise. “[With G3], we, in this organization and across the Pacific, are able to demonstrate the ability to collaborate effectively together and to positively and optimistically imagine a future better than the one we left behind."

Following Wednesday’s launch, the G3 Action Framework will serve as a living and adaptable document. A G3 Working Group Steering Committee, composed of the leads of the six action teams and co-chaired by the Office of the Lt. Governor and UOG CIS will identify priority and high-impact action opportunities and coordinate implementation. The governor will chair biannual meetings.

A public G3 Dashboard will be created to record and track progress over time using the internationally recognized Aloha+ Challenge Dashboard as a model, which Hawaii Governor David Ige pledged to share with Guam and other islands.

Leon Guerrero acknowledged that the pandemic has affected government spending. “Covid 19 forced us to shift resources. Many important environmental programs and policies have taken a backseat,” she said. “Recyling programs throughout the nation have halted.”

The governor also mentioned that G3 is currently working to promote sustainability during the time of Covid. “Sustainability is highly dependent on innovation,” she said. “Identifying issues that our current system allows us to make the necessary changes. We’re currently precuring a machine that sanitizes PPEs which means our frontliners can use them multiple times.”

G3 will also advance tangible solutions to sustainability challenges and contribute to a green economy for the island.

The G3 Working Group was established in September 2019 through Executive Order 2019-23, and its facilitation was assigned to the University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability.

Krise believes that G3’s model can effectively combine responses to the various dilemmas. “As we all sit now six months into this health crisis, we’re often saying when we get out of this I'm doing X,Y and Z," Krise said. "We in the Pacific are many ways are the epicenter of the climate crisis. In many ways we can model our way out of this.”

“The world is confronted by significant challenges and Covid 19 is a significant reminder that even as a global society, our actions have a direct impact on each other. As islands, we also see the impacts of climate change and sea level rises in a real way, from hurricanes to wildfires, coral bleaching, king tides and flooding rains,” said Ige.

“These impacts on happening each and every day. We see the opportunity to address these challenges through collective action and a lens of sustainably and equity through he sustainable development goals which can help us emerge from the pandemic stronger and more resilient. So island economies, substantiality isn’t a goal, it’s a responsibility.”

Marshall Islands President David Kabua said the goal is to ensure the present generation and the next generation can continue to enjoy the riches of the islands.

"However, we can only conserve so much before we must address the impending threat of climate change that is sweeping across the world and impacting our region with devastating consequences,” said Kabua. “Climate change not only effects the environment, it also effects the island's welfare, cultural practices, ecological health and social empowerment. The quality of life for the Pacific will be disastrous if we don’t act now. Governments must continue to encourage new ideas and insure to address this issue.”

Kate Brown, executive director Global Island Partnership, said she is looking forward to Guam's contributions to the sustainability plan.

“We look forward to a spirit of cooperative competition. It's time for Guam to be a bright spot for other islands in the same way that other islands supported your efforts," Brown said. "We want these important initiatives to succeed because it supports our mission which is to build resilient and sustainable island communities. Our vision is that island people can lead rich fulfilling lives as determined by them in their islands and including future generations.”

Speaker Tina Muna Barnes noted that the islands' economies are interconnected.

“There's been this misconception that issues in Hawaii, RMI, FSM, Palau and even our brothers and sisters in CNMI, is not our problem—not a problem of the people of Guam. Just a few weeks ago, we had one of my colleagues bring up this argument that we should cut funding from the Pacific Islands Development Bank because it’s not Guam’s problem," she said.

“I've always stated and seen results first hand, for us to overcome adversities, we must do so together. Climate change, while some say is a myth, as island nations, we see firsthand the implications to our food source, our sea levels and ultimately our people's ability to sustain a livelihood,” Muna-Barnes added.

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