Mayor Frank Klipsch

Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch has been elected co-chair of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, along with St. Gabriel, Louisiana, Mayor Lionel Johnson. The term is two years.

Contributed photo

This year's United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, provided world leaders and global businesses a glimpse of Davenport's past, present and future.

For the past week, Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch has not only represented the city, but the 80 mayors who participate in the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, in an effort to promote the risks of pulling out of the Paris climate accord, as well as promote opportunities for investment in regional sustainability and economic development.

"The takeaway is we have some opportunities to do some great things for water quality, food security, flood resiliency and riverfront development," Klipsch said in an interview from Bonn.

While President Donald Trump has indicated the U.S. intentions to pull out of the Paris Agreement by 2020, U.S. leaders, including California Gov. Jerry Brown and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, launched America's Pledge to show that cities, states and businesses are committed to the pact.

Klipsch and the initiative have voiced support for the accord, given the impacts climate change poses to the Mississippi River Basin, which is the most productive for food production in the world and represents one of the largest resources for commodities trade.

"It's important that the U.S. is involved with the climate change issue," Klipsch said. "A lot of the other countries have decided to put tariffs on countries that don't have good environmental records and carbon reduction plans in place."

In addition to the 20 million people who depend on fresh drinking water from the Mississippi River, its top-seven economies contributed more than $500 million in annual revenue and are responsible for more than 1.5 million jobs.

While Klipsch and St. Gabriel, Louisiana, Mayor Lionel Johnson, co-chairs of the initiative, have indicated their support for the Paris agreement, they also have been highlighting the number of programs already in place to help combat climate change.

Along with representatives from Walmart, Klipsch and Johnson made a presentation on the partnership it reached last year to offer incentives to farmers and supply chain companies to control fertilizer runoff and nutrients from seeping into the Mississippi River.

With a number of large organizations and companies in attendance, Klipsch said the conference also provided the initiative with an opportunity to develop contacts and network.

This was an important part of the conference because of the initiative's recently announced partnership with CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, to help link investors to sustainable infrastructure projects.

CDP warehouses the largest collection of corporate environmental data. Its supply chain members represent more than $2 billion in purchasing power.

In 2017, communities up and down the Mississippi River have had to deal with hurricanes, 1,000-year rain events, floods and drought.

Rather than wait on whether communities will receive federal funding, the partnership with CDP was a proactive step toward finding alternatives to move green, sustainable infrastructure projects forward.

Projects are not limited to infrastructure and for a city like Davenport, which is in the process of developing its riverfront area now that the former Rhythm City Casino barge is gone, it could infuse additional dollars to help expedite the process.

"On our riverfront, working with these types of investors will help us find ways to get those funded," Klipsch said. "They're looking for return on investment, but we would get upfront capital to help these projects move forward."