Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges will follow up a July meeting with the pope on climate change with a second summit on the issue, this time in New York City.
The one-day event in late September will occur in conjunction with a lengthier gathering of world leaders at the United Nations. Hodges will join other mayors who previously pledged to work on a set of shared goals on climate change and sustainable development to again discuss the work their cities are doing on the issue.
The gathering at The New School, a university, is hosted by climate change expert and Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs, who is also a special adviser to the U.N. Hodges said Sachs was one of the organizers behind the meeting of about 60 local leaders from around the world in July in the Vatican. There, the pope encouraged mayors to take on climate change and human trafficking as top goals and warned that humans are causing destruction to the planet by “not having an ecological conscience.”
Hodges has made sustainability one of the primary efforts of her first year-and-a-half in office, championing efforts to increase composting and recycling in the city and boosting goals for reductions to greenhouse gas emissions.
The mayor said she was inspired by the meeting in the Vatican, and believes her continued travels to meet with other leaders on the issue are important for the city.
“This is just one of the places where having access to these networks is huge for the city of Minneapolis,” she said.
The Vatican trip, on which the mayor was accompanied by her chief of staff, was funded by the conference organizers. Her travels to New York are currently coming out of the Mayor’s Office budget, though a spokeswoman for her office said it is possible some or all of the cost will be reimbursed by the conference organizers or other sources.
Hodges has attended other high-profile events with national leaders this year. She was selected to attend a series of weekend seminars in Aspen, Colo., as a recipient of the Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowship in Public Leadership for “rising political stars.” In January, Hodges attended President Obama’s State of the Union address and spoke at a gathering of city leaders.
The mayor said she believes people are paying more attention to city leaders as people who can lead major social and economic efforts.
“I think it’s different for mayors than it was even five years ago,” she said.