The great state of Colorado, and the city of Aspen in particular, has always been a bastion for progressive ideas, culture and thought. At the heart of this intended progress is the Aspen Institute. For more than three decades, the Aspen Institute has coordinated forums on many pressing issues including energy, homeland security, the environment and the annual ideas festival. Well, June and July of 2013 saw the Ideas Fest and the Aspen Security Forum, which analyzes counterterrorism issues, go off without any major hitches. However, it’s unsettling to note that the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Environment Forum (in partnership with National Geographic magazine and arguably the most important forum of all) has been put on an indefinite hiatus.
For five consecutive years, the Aspen Environment Forum was a fixture on the city’s intellectual events calendar – delving into environmental and energy policy issues alongside academics, government officials, the media and experts from energy/environmental industries. Topics tackled include the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, climate change,fracking and ‘green’ infrastructure building.According to David Monsma, director of Aspen Institute’s energy and environment program, generating sufficient interest and sponsorship dollars continued to be a “substantial challenge.”
A statement posted on the environment forum’s website read, in part, “We have decided not to convene the Aspen Environment Forum in 2013 but will continue to partner on the important issues related to our human relationship with the natural environment. Stay tuned for more.”
Despite a handful of sponsors like Shell and General Motors and careful scheduling around Aspen’s high season, they still ran into road blocks when it came to underwriting, attendance and, in turn, ticket sales. Only 300 to 400 people attended each year. Do these numbers really reflect America’s interest and concern for evolving environmental concerns?
According to an interview with Aspen Daily News Online, Monsma said he hopes to revive it in the future. He said he is willing to experiment with a different format or financial structure.
“It’s not abandoned by any means,” he said. Here’s hoping.