After her keynote, Melodee Colbert-Kean, the president of the National League of Cities and city council member and former mayor of Joplin, Missouri, shifted the conversation toward 20th century infrastructure. She said that people need to advocate for U.S. cities by making sure urban issues, such as climate change, infrastructure and economic issues, are addressed.
“When we help cities it helps them to grow, it helps them to innovate, it helps them to be more resilient,” she said.
Several panelists then gathered to discuss water, as well as solutions for a 20th century infrastructure. One of the panelists, Dr. Royce Francis, assistant professor of engineering and applied sciences at The George Washington University, said that people’s judgments of water are clouded by thinking of water as a fundamental human right, when in reality, it’s not easy or cheap to bring water from the ground to the tap.
“While it’s a right, that doesn’t mean it’s free,” he said. “It’s a human right if we’re willing to help each other get access.”