- Associated Press - Friday, June 3, 2016

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A coalition of mayors of cities and towns along the Mississippi River says it has added new organizations to an international pledge to protect the world’s rivers in the face of threats from climate change and population growth.

The Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative said new groups signed the pledge Thursday at an assembly of the International Network of Basin Organizations in Merida, Mexico.

The new signatories are the North American Network of Basin Organizations, the Brazilian Network of Basin Organizations, the Mediterranean Network of Basin Organizations and the African Network of Basin Organizations. Those groups represent more than 70 nations.

Signatories pledge to fight river pollution, urban runoff and harmful agricultural practices while also planting new vegetation.

The agreement was first introduced by the Mississippi River coalition at the Paris climate conference last year. The Mississippi River coalition is made up of mayors up and down the river.

“One of the greatest climate change threats to the world is a dramatic alteration to our food supply and decrease of freshwater,” said Belinda Constant, the mayor of Gretna, Louisiana, and the group’s incoming co-chair.

She said in a news release that an “international sustainability agreement” is vital to saving river basins from climate change and population growth.

The group says that 35 percent of the world’s traditional cropland is found within the world’s major rivers basins and this means protecting rivers is in the vital interest of feeding the growing number people.

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