BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — After a two-year hiatus, the Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) is back for its 17th annual Smart Growth Summit. Some of the greatest minds met under one roof to brainstorm how to make Louisiana a better place to live.

This summit united experts and innovators from around the world to collaborate on discussions that centered around options on tackling climate change, health disparities, as well as racial and economic inequalities. Louisiana is headed in the right direction, according to the Governor, but keeping the state on the right path requires changes to Louisiana’s energy, healthcare, and infrastructure.

Edwards said, “And if we want to be an energy leader 100 years from now, just like we’ve been over the last hundred years, we better embrace the transition.”

President of CPEX, Camille Manning- Broome believes Louisiana is in a pivotal time. She says the state is on the front lines of climate change and still has weaknesses that must be addressed.

Manning-Broome described the issues by saying, “Around generational poverty, health inequities, environmental degradation, and big economic shifts.”

Many agree that the only way to address these issues is to unite lawmakers, local officials, and community residents in rolling up their sleeves and taking steps to protect both present and future generations.

“We used our parks as a way to mitigate climate change. They became sponges, trees to clean the air and water and cool the city. They got a great new park. My community didn’t. So to me, it’s important to explain fairness and use that lens and embed it in our work,” said Mitchell Silver, Vice President of Urban Planning and Keynote Speaker at the summit.

More than 40 speakers addressed a variety of solutions.

But they said the only way to put a conversation into action was for everyone to do the work.

Charles Sutcliffe, an audience member, says the summit provided him with a roadmap to solving issues in Louisiana.

“They just open a new way of thinking for me. Like, ‘Oh, that’s how I need to bring in the Parks Department or the health people or whatever it is,'” he said.

The summit will continue Thursday, December 8 as officials go on to discuss what reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy will look like for Louisiana residents.