The Mississippi River Valley has been hit by droughts, floods, extreme heat, and tornadoes that resulted in damages totaling over $50 billion since 2011. From 2005 to 2017, that total eclipses $200 billion with each effected state incurring a minimum $5 billion in damages. One positive result in reaction to those natural disasters was the formation of the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI), a coalition of mayors focused on resilience and adaptation programs. Last week, mayors of the ten states along the river met with leaders from the global and North American insurance industry to discuss reducing vulnerabilities and building resilience in the face of climate-related disasters. It marked the first time these stakeholders participated in a structured dialogue with each other and is part of another first… a planned Mississippi River-wide vulnerability assessment. The meeting was convened by MRCTI, UN Environment North America, and the Wilson Center. After the landmark meeting, we spoke with four of the participants in two separate episodes of Wilson Center NOW.

Episode 1

Episode 1 Guests

Lionel Johnson, Jr. has been the mayor of St Gabriel, Louisiana since 2011. He was recently elected co-chair of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI). 

Alex Kaplan is Senior Vice President and Head of Global Partnerships for Swiss Reinsurance Company.

Episode 2


Episode 2 Guests

Barbara Hendrie is Director of UN Environment North America.

Butch Bacani is Programme Leader for UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative.

John Milewski is the executive producer and managing editor of Wilson Center NOW and also serves as director of Wilson Center ON DEMAND digital programming.