Mayors from towns and cities up and down the Mississippi River will be in Paris, France, this week, looking to secure an international agreement on food and water security with leaders from the world’s most important river basins.
On Friday, December 4th, mayors representing the nonprofit Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRTCI) will begin discussions during Conference of the Parties 21 (COP 21), the United Nations’ meeting for the Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris.
The mayoral delegation is working with the UN Environment Program, the International Network of Basin Organizations, the International Society for River Science, and ecoAmerica. Together, they’ll meet with leaders from other food-producing river basins to create an international agreement “to mitigate climate impact to the world’s food and freshwater supply.”
The delegation will include Mayor Chris Coleman, St. Paul, Minn.; Mayor Roy Buol, Dubuque, Iowa; Mayor Dave Kleis, St. Cloud, Minn.; and Mayor Larry “Butch” Brown, Natchez, Miss.
Absent from the list is Memphis Mayor A C Wharton who is a co-chairman of the mayors’ initiative but was defeated for his re-election bid in October.
But here’s what Wharton said of the Paris meeting back in March:
“With years of experience with droughts, floods, and hurricanes, the Mississippi mayors have some expertise with climate disruption and resilience,” Wharton said. “That’s why we are joining the global discussion by partnering with a nation that’s leading the way and attending a key UN meeting.”
The mayors will announce the results of their talks on Monday, Dec. 7th. The agreement could bring changes to the policies that guide and protect the Mississippi River.
A MRTCI study found that the Mississippi River generates $405 billion in revenues each year and supports 1.3 million jobs.
Tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing are the top three industries along the river. They are responsible for $366 billion in annual revenues and support more than 1.15 million jobs.
All of these industries, the group said, survive on clean water in the river. Therefore, MRTCI will begin to introduce clean-water programs up and down the river and implement clean-water goals.