UN Programme Welcomes Milwaukee, Fresh Water Expertise

Milwaukee, Wis., joined 13 cities worldwide, gaining admission into the United Nations Global Compact Cities Programme (UNGCCP), according to a recent press release.

The program will tap Milwaukee's fresh water technology expertise. The city and San Francisco are the only two North American cities in the UNGCCP.

"Every city around the world is facing its own intractable problems, which are becoming increasingly difficult to manage, let alone improve," said Paul James, Ph.D., UNGCCP director. "These are the issues that have been failed by previous governance efforts year after year -- slums, transport, pollution, sanitation. The UNGCCP provides a unique framework for helping cities build constructive taskforces across the key sectors of business, government, and community to produce practical, local, and sustainable solutions to these challenges."

Cities accepted into the program submitted proposals to address complex challenges common to most urban areas such as housing, health care, and sanitation. Milwaukee's proposal focuses on managing limited fresh water resources through water technology and science. It is a plan that prioritizes, implements, and monitors the activities of a number of integrated sub-projects that make a difference in water quality for Milwaukee and the surrounding region.

Admission into the UNGCCP is the latest evidence of Milwaukee's emergence as a global hub for fresh water technology expertise and industry. The area is home to 120 businesses that serve some aspect of the water technology industry. Five of the world's largest water technology companies have headquarters or other major operations in the area.

In 2007 area business, academic, and civic leaders formed the Milwaukee 7 Water Council, whose mission is to develop the Milwaukee Region as the world water technology hub for fresh water research, economic development, and education. Richard Meeusen, chair, president, and chief executive officer of Badger Meter and Paul Jones, chair and chief executive officer of A.O. Smith Corp. serve as co-chairs for the Water Council.

In March, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle's commited $240 million to fund education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, including support for the School of Fresh water Sciences -- the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

"To be recognized by the United Nations as the fresh water hub in the world is an honor and speaks volumes about Milwaukee's strengths in fresh water technology," said Mayor Tom Barrett. "We are proud to be the second U.S. city to join the U.N. Global Compact Cities Program and believe that we are leaps and bounds ahead of the competition in growing our fresh water economy."

Milwaukee's UNGCCP project will be under the leadership of the Milwaukee 7 Water Council, which will adopt the goals of the new School of Fresh water Sciences. Its focus will be maintaining and improving water quality system dynamics, health, and sustainability as well as fresh water technology, policy, and management.

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