History of USDN

In 2008, USDN was founded by and for local government sustainability professionals as a safe place to learn from each other. Ten years later, USDN has grown in size and influence, while remaining a unique member-led network. Over 180 cities and counties participated in USDN in 2017 in the United States and Canada, and nearly 1,000 local government professionals actively shared their expertise through the network.

USDN fills a key gap in the field of urban sustainability.  More than ever, the pressure is on urban centers to drive progress on sustainability and climate action.   Sustainability staff in these governments are in-house change agents, charged with forging partnerships and creating solutions to help their residents to thrive despite a changing climate and other local challenges.

However, these front-line practitioners often individually lack the critical resources they need to implement change and move quickly.  They crave inspiration to help identify opportunities, models from peer communities, access to the implementers behind those models, as well as access to trusted thought partners.  USDN is the primary network which provides these mission-critical resources to local government sustainability and climate practitioners.  Peer exchange and collaboration opportunities catalyze the creation and implementation of urban sustainability solutions.


THE GUIDE TO GREENING CITIES

USDN members, their cities and stories are profiled in "The Guide to Greening Cities" by Sadhu Aufochs Johnston, Steven S. Nicholas, and Julia Parzen (2013).  This is the first book written from the perspective of municipal leaders with successful, on-the-ground experience working to advance green city goals. Through personal reflections and interviews with leading municipal staff in cities from San Antonio to Minneapolis, the authors share lessons for cities to lead by example in their operations, create programs, implement high-priority initiatives, develop partnerships, measure progress, secure funding, and engage the community. Additional case studies are available on the companion website. The book is available for purchase through Island Press.