Mayor Rick Blangiardi has appointed a new director and deputy director for the City and County of Honolulu (City) Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency (CCSR). Director Matthew Gonser and Deputy Director Nicola Hedge join the senior leadership team with a great foundation in the climate action and adaptation needs for our island community.
“There is no denying the effect of climate change is real and with it comes serious threats to our way of life,” said Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi. “I have big expectations from our Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency and I have confidence Matt and Nicola will be positive difference makers who possess the vision to turn our commitments into action.”
In addition to the role of Executive Director for CCSR, Gonser serves as the City’s Chief Resilience Officer. He has served with the office since October 2017 in the role of Coastal and Water Program Manager. Prior to joining the office he served for nearly six years as the Community Planning and Design Extension Agent with the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program. With the office Gonser led the City’s development of the Ola: O‘ahu Resilience Strategy, which was adopted as a guiding policy document by the City Council via Resolution 19-233 in 2019, and, in concert with City departments, has been leading the development of a climate adaptation strategy, “Climate Ready O‘ahu.”
Gonser was sworn in on and has served in the role since January 2, 2021. He has a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources from Cornell University and master’s degrees in both Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture, respectively, also from Cornell.
Nicola Hedge serves as both the Deputy Director for CCSR and the City’s Deputy Chief Resilience Officer. She has supported the City since April 2019 as a Climate Advisor as part of the City’s competitive award from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions reductions from the building and transportation sectors. Prior to returning to Oʻahu in 2019, Hedge worked for nine years at The San Diego Foundation as both a Climate Initiative Manager and Director of Environmental Initiatives, helping to drive coordinated climate action among cities in southern California.
Hedge has served in her new role since February 16, 2021. A graduate of Hawai‘i Pacific University with a Bachelor of Science in International Business, she holds a master’s degree in Pacific and International Affairs from the University of California, San Diego.
As an island community, climate change, sustainability and resiliency are critical issues, not just to the quality of life today, but for long-term physical and economic health and security. CCSR will help drive climate adaptation with City departments, develop programming to build community resilience, equity and economic recovery as well as help the City to lead by example in taking climate action.
“With the office’s roles and responsibilities signed into law at the end of 2020 as Ordinance 20-47, and the established O‘ahu Resilience Strategy, the sail plan is before us, and we’re excited to get to work,” Gonser said. “We can and must link climate action with economic recovery to signal not only inspiration and hope, but also real prosperity, while also proactively improving community and environmental conditions in the face of a changing climate.”
“Climate action is not just good business, we owe it to Honolulu’s residents, keiki and future generations to do our best to protect this land we all love,” Hedge said.
The Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency relocated from Kapālama Hale to the Frank Fasi Municipal Building at 650 S King St, and can still be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 808.768.2277.