Hear from EPA Administrator, Al Roker at the 2021 Summit

Another Planet Forward Summit has come and gone, and 2021 brought some of the most compelling guests — and conversations — we’ve ever had. After 2020 brought so much change to our lives, the urgency of climate change, and the topics of environmental equity and inclusion, were at the forefront of our discussions.

KEYNOTE: Climate Change Beyond a Human Lifetime

There's a problem inherent in the way we're processing the climate crisis: We don't live long enough to truly feel it. National Geographic Explorer and documentary filmmaker John Sutter has launched an unprecedented project to chronicle the future. He’s working with children around the world to tell an entirely new story about the climate crisis — one that lasts longer than we do.

KEYNOTE CONVERSATION: Talking Climate and Weather with One of the Most Trusted Voices in America

Legendary NBC broadcaster Al Roker is one of the most recognized figures in American life. On NBC’s Today Show he communicates important weather information to a wide and diverse audience. As a storyteller on NBC’s Climate Unit, he dives into the story of climate change, extreme weather, and solutions for our planet. In this conversation, learn more about compelling climate communication and reaching your audience. Then, we make a special announcement about our new Planet Forward Comcast Sustainability Storytelling Fellowship program, and share the story told by our first fellow, Francesca Edralin from the George Washington University. Edralin shares the piece she worked on about the Green Bronx Machine.

CONVERSATION: Meet the Mayor of America’s Hottest City

In 2020, Phoenix, Arizona, experienced 145 days of 100-degree weather. The mayor of Phoenix, Kate Gallego, describes new urban technologies that the city is implementing to battle the dangers of extreme heat. Then join Planet Forward student contributors Adora Shortridge and William Walker from Arizona State University, and GW's National Geographic Visiting Professor of Science Communication and author of "Hot, Hungry Planet," Lisa Palmer, for a live Q&A about their work looking into feasible and equitable heat-preparedness strategies for some of our most vulnerable citizens.

INSTITUTIONAL IMPACT: Moving Away from Single-Use Plastics

George Washington University recently announced it will phase out single-use plastics on campus. GW President Thomas LeBlanc explains why, how, and what it means.

GAME TIME! Let's Talk Storyfest

Students published their stories on PlanetForward.org all year — next we put their stories front and center with a panel of science and media experts. ASU Global Futures Laboratory's Steven Beschloss, PBS (WNET) Executive Producer Eugenia Harvey, Project Drawdown’s Matt Scott, and GW Professor Dr. Tara Scully join us to showcase some of the exceptional Storyfest entries for 2021. Then, Frank Sesno revealed the six grand prize winners, each of whom will receive $500 and have 50 trees planted in their names in a National Forest courtesy of our friends at One Tree Planted.

KEYNOTE CONVERSATION: Meet the new EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan

Finally, we capped our event with a thoughtful and inspiring discussion with the new EPA Administrator Michael Regan — the first Black man and the first graduate of a historically Black college and university to lead the EPA in its 50-year history. Regan said he will bring science into every decision, coordinate across government, work with states and localities — and made clear that environmental justice will be at the center of his mission.

Please watch and listen, and be inspired. As Regan said to us — it’s not too late. As humans, we are innovative. We are resilient. And we can do this — together.

Thank you again for joining us at the 2021 Planet Forward Virtual Summit. Until next year, we look forward to seeing you online, and let’s keep doing our part to move the planet forward.

How do you move the Planet Forward? Tweet us @planet_forward or contribute to the conversation with your own story.