NMCG Forges Alliance For River-Cities With MRCTI, USA at COP28


Global partnership aims to promote sustainable river-centric development of cities

At COP28 being held in Dubai, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), DoWR, RD & GR, Ministry of Jal Shakti, on behalf of River Cities Alliance (RCA) signed a Memorandum of Common Purpose (MoCP) with the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI), representing 124 cities/towns situated along the banks of the Mississippi River, USA. The signing ceremony took place at the Rotary Hall on December 6, 2023. The MoCP was signed by Shri G. Asok Kumar, Special Secretary and Director General, NMCG on behalf of the Indian RCA and by Mayor Mitch Reynolds of La Crosse (Wisconsin), Mayor Errick Simmons of Greenville (Mississippi), Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans (Louisiana), and Colin Wellemkamp (Executive Director, MRCTI)  on behalf of USA’s MRCTI, in the presence of officials from NIUA, senior officials from the US State Department, UNEP, and Rotary International.

G. Asok Kumar DG NMCG with USAs MRCTI in the presence of officials from NIUA senior officials from the US State Department UNEP and Rotary International

NMCG, in association with National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) under Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) had initiated a unique concept of River Cities Alliance (RCA) in November 2021. RCA is envisaged as a dedicated platform for cities on the banks of rivers in India for concerted discussions and capacity building on aspects related to enhancing the state of urban rivers and has 142 Indian River cities and Aarhus of Denmark as members.

MRCTI represents 124 cities/towns situated along the banks of the Mississippi River, USA.

This significant agreement positions NMCG a step closer to the imminent launch of the Global River Cities Alliance (GRCA), as the current River Cities Alliance (RCA) has now expanded its strength to the membership of 267 global river-cities including India, USA and Denmark.

After the signing, Director General G. Asok Kumar of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) held a bilateral meeting with Mayors, representatives from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and officials from the United States Department of State at the WWF Pavilion Office. During this meeting, both parties engaged in substantive discussions, exploring tangible avenues for ongoing collaboration. Emphasis was placed on facilitating robust knowledge exchange between the National Mission for Clean Ganga including RCA and the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI), underscoring a commitment to enduring cooperation and the exchange of expertise between the two networks.

Mississippi Mayors with G Asok Kumar Director General NMCG (extreme right)

G. Asok Kumar, Director General of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), conveyed the River Cities Alliance’s (RCA) keen interest in acquiring further insights into the satellite-based monitoring of water quality implemented by MRCTI. Additionally, Mr Kumar articulated the delegation’s eagerness to gain a more comprehensive understanding of MRCTI’s citizen science initiative, particularly in discerning the origins of plastic pollution within river ecosystems.

The Mayors representing MRCTI conveyed interest in acquiring insights into NMCG’s Hybrid Annuity Model and the One-City-One-Operator model for sewage treatment plants. Additionally, they expressed a desire to emulate RCA’s annual student thesis competition on ‘reimagining urban rivers’ aiming to encourage research projects by undergraduate and postgraduate students on themes related to rivers.

4 mayors from Mississippi River cities attended COP28

Furthermore, the delegations from both sides explored the prospect of instituting a city twinning program between RCA and MRCTI members, providing cities with an opportunity to learn from and inspire each other. Additionally, a proposal was put forth for a delegation of Mayors from MRCTI to visit India in the forthcoming year. This visit aims to bolster institutional synergies and ensure the continuity of momentum for the collaborative partnership.

This MoCP seeks to establish an efficient framework for collaboration between the River Cities Alliance (RCA) and MRCTI. It focuses on capacity building and knowledge exchange in integrated river management to address climate change impacts on the ecosystem. The collaboration includes a comprehensive water monitoring program, sharing best practices for renaturing urban areas, and restoring aquatic ecosystems for sustainable urban development. Initiatives extend to restoring urban forests and lakes connected to rivers, emphasizing the importance of green spaces. The proposed collaboration emphasizes collective action for safeguarding environmental flows and acknowledges the role of floods in maintaining river ecosystem health, showcasing a commitment to proactive environmental stewardship and innovative solutions for sustainable river management.

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