Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch's duties have taken on an international flair this week as he and St. Gabriel, Louisiana, Mayor Lionel Johnson are representing the mayors along the Mississippi River at the United Nations Climate Challenge Conference in Bonn, Germany.

Klipsch and Johnson, co-chairs of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, are taking part in the climate conference for four main reasons:

  • working with the international community on food and water security issues as most of the world's food production and freshwater withdrawals come from river basins
  • speaking out against disengaging from the Paris Accord because it jeopardizes jobs and the economy
  • emphasizing the need to protect the $164 billion in commodity trade
  • profiling Mississippi River region partnerships on a global level

Klipsch noted that the region has sustained more than $200 billion in disaster impacts since 2005 and no state has endured less than $5 billion in impact over the same period.

"It is imperative we take action to make our corridor more resilient and keep our commodities economy strong," Klipsch said in a news release. "One of the reasons we're going to COP23 is to present to the international investment community on the partnerships necessary to meet the challenges we're facing at scale."

On Friday, Klipsch and Johnson will make presentations to various international organizations and national leaders on the importance of reinforcing natural infrastructure.

As a sign of commitment, both mayors will participate in the signing of the Bonn Declaration to support "restoring, protecting, and enhancing the environmental services of water-based systems, and promoting the international food and water security agreement negotiated in Paris during COP21."

On Saturday, Klipsch and Johnson will join former Vice President Al Gore in presenting financing options for infrastructure renewal projects.

One of projects they will present together with Walmart is regarding a sustainable agriculture partnership to improve water quality along the 20 million acres running through the Mississippi River Basin.

Water quality of the Mississippi River has a profound impact on both the health of residents and businesses in the region. Twenty million people depend on the drinking water from the Mississippi River. The top seven economies in the region depending on freshwater generate $500 billion in annual revenue in addition to providing 1.5 million jobs.

“'America First’ should not mean ‘America Alone,’" Johnson said. "The mayors of one of the world’s most important rivers stand united to pursue solutions to the dramatic and persistent disaster challenges we are facing together. Count us in."

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