See the latest Aloha ʻĀina Action here!

Piʻo Summit 2023: Advancing a Circular Economy in Hawaiʻi

2023 Piʻo Summit: Advancing a Circular Economy in Hawaiʻi
Wednesday, December 13, 2023
Hawaiʻi Convention Center

The pursuit of convenience today has led to rampant consumerism, throwaway culture, and monumental waste. Product design and manufacturing is focused on efficiency and low cost, with little regard for sustainability. As a result, the linear “take, make, use, waste” economy is built on continuously extracting finite resources just to create products destined for landfills.

In recent years, growing scrutiny around the linear economy has sparked a demand for urgent action on issues regarding limited natural resources, biodiversity loss, climate change, energy efficiency, mass waste, and pollution. Governments across the globe are searching for solutions that decouple economic growth from environmental degradation while ensuring long-term prosperity. One steadily advancing movement is aimed at designing a Circular Economy, where waste is minimal, materials and resources are preserved for as long as possible, and modes of production mimic nature’s regenerative processes.

In ancestral Hawaiʻi, a similar “give, take, regenerate” circular system led to the development of balanced structures of resource management. One example of this can be seen in the ahupuaʻa, a unit of land division and an efficient socio-political management structure that enhanced ecosystems health. Ahupuaʻa, in partnership with a sophisticated governance structure, ensured a successful ancestral circular economy, where resources were managed effectively to promote abundance. Combining contemporary Circular Economy solutions with ancestral knowledge creates integrated approaches to sustainability that are both environmentally regenerative and socially just.

As the state’s largest research institution, the University of Hawai‘i (UH) has an obligation to help improve the quality of life for our residents and to those around the world through innovative research and education. This year, in partnership with the Dana Naone Hall Endowed Chair we created a Piʻo Summit to highlight the need for courageous leadership and ancestral innovation to solve the complex problems of our times. Advancing a Circular Economy in Hawai‘i brings together UH and community partners to advance contemporary applications of ancestral innovation and resource management sciences to help develop sustainable and just solutions for healthy communities in Hawai‘i and around the world.
Advancing a Circular Economy in Hawai‘i is sponsored by the University of Hawaiʻi Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, The GSI Family of Companies, Elemental Excelerator and Kamehameha Schools in partnership with Piʻo Summit 2023 and Ulupono Initiative.

Watch Keynotes and Panel Discussions

Featured Keynote

Kate Raworth is an economist whose research focuses on the unique social and ecological challenges of the twenty-first century. She teaches at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, where she is a Senior Visiting Research Associate, and she is a Senior Associate of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. Over the last two decades Kate has worked as Senior Researcher at Oxfam, as a co-author of the UN’s Human Development Report at the United Nations Development Programme, and as a Fellow of the Overseas Development Institute in the villages of Zanzibar.

Summit Schedule

Plenary Panel 1: Ancestral Circular Economy in Action

Wednesday, December 13, 2023
8:55 am
9:55 am

• Natalie Kurashima, Integrated Resources Manager, Kamehameha Schools

• Keliʻi Kotubetey, Founder/Assistant Executive Director, Paepae o Heʻeia

• Brandon Ledward, Principle Strategist, Kamehameha Schools

• Moderator: Kamanamaikalani Beamer, UH Mānoa

No items found.

Plenary Panel 2: Contemporary Restoration of Ahupuaʻa

Wednesday, December 13, 2023
10:05 am
11:05 am

• Neil Hannahs, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Hookele Strategies LLC

• Noa Lincoln, Assistant Professor, Indigenous Crops and Cropping Systems, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, UH Mānoa

• Puaʻala Pascua, Coordinator, Ahupuaʻa Accelerator Initiative, Hawaiʻi Conservation Alliance (via Zoom)

• Kapuaʻala Sproat, Professor/Director, Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law, William S. Richardson School of Law, UH Mānoa

• Moderator: Kamuela Enos, UH System

No items found.
Kate Raworth
Senior Associate, Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University

Q&A with Ms. Raworth

Wednesday, December 13, 2023
11:45 am
12:00 pm

Moderator: Kamanamaikalani Beamer, UH Mānoa

Kate Raworth
Senior Associate, Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University
Dr. Kamanamaikalani Beamer
Dana Naone Hall Chair
Kawika Winter
Director, He'eia National Estuarine Research Reserve; Biocultural Ecologist, Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, UH Mānoa

Plenary Panel 3: Experiences, Challenges and Best Practices of Circular Economy Interventions

Wednesday, December 13, 2023
1:15 pm
2:15 pm

• Sandra Köhler, Research Associate/Chair, Production & Supply Chain Management, University of Augsburg  

• Simron Singh, Professor & University Research Chair, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, University of Waterloo  

• Hiroki Tanikawa, Professor & Associate Dean, Environmental Studies, Nagoya University  

• Moderator: Kamanamaikalani Beamer, UH Mānoa

No items found.

Plenary Panel 4: UH’s Role in Creating Opportunities for the Future

Wednesday, December 13, 2023
2:35 pm
3:35 pm

• Kawena Elkington, Graduate Research Assistant, Pōʻai Ke Aloha ʻĀina Lab, UH Mānoa

• Kekai Lee, Lecturer, Hawaiian Studies, Leeward Community College; Navigator, Polynesian Voyaging Society

• Kari Noe, Graduate Research Assistant, Laboratory for Advanced Visualization and Applications, UH Mānoa

• Kaui Sana, Farm Manager, MA'O Organic Farms

• Alec Wagner, Master’s Candidate, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

• Moderator: Kamuela Enos, UH System

No items found.

Summit Highlights

Our Partners

This summit would not be possible without the kōkua of our valued partners. They are stalwart supporters of environmental justice and ʻōiwi agency, and we would like to express our deep mahalo to these organizations for their contributions:

About our Piʻo Summit

A centerpiece of the Pōʻai ke Aloha ʻĀina project is the Piʻo Summit, a gathering of individuals dedicated to sharing their work to cultivate circular economic thinking in their local communities, and around the world. Our goal is to bring leaders together from at home and abroad to celebrate and share innovative projects that support our communities.

The summit will be held bianually, with each event embodying one of the following themes:

- Highlighting Aloha ʻĀina Innovation at Home, to advance local policy issues and uplift the work of a community collaborator, sharing our (kākou) efforts with an international audience.
- Learning from Sustainability Leaders Abroad
, to increase international collaborations and networks as related to manifesting aloha ʻāina. Let's learn from each other.

Our esteemed guests are leaders in imagining a sustainable future. Whether from far across the globe or from within our own island communities, they bring with them insights that show us a vision of the world, where the operation of our societies, rooted in the concept of aloha ʻāina, draws on the resources of our one and only home in a restorative and rejuvenative fashion, and allows us all to thrive.