ROCHESTER, Minn. - Mayor Kim Norton represented Rochester in an international conversation on climate change and sustainability Thursday.
The Med City Mayor met virtually with city leaders from Minnesota and Germany to exchange ideas and discuss actions being taken to combat climate change. The conversation was part of the University of Minnesota's Climate-Smart Municipalities program, in which American and German delegations visit each other's cities with the goal of accelerating progress on energy efficiency and sustainability.
Mayor Norton says topics discussed include bus rapid transit and rail, walkability, and energy production methods. She adds the program's Minnesota cities are ahead of their German counterparts in some respects, but behind them in others.
"We're able to learn from them about what it's like to have a bikeable, walkable community. They're able to learn from us about how we've managed waste and recycling. It's very different than the way they manage it. So it's an exchange of ideas," Norton said.
During the forum, Mayor Norton says she and others were able to catch up with leaders from Rochester's sister city in the program, Muenster, Germany. Norton tells KIMT officials from Muenster were impressed by the Med City's commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2030, and expressed interest in better understanding how Mayo Clinic his handling sustainability.
"They also have a university and a medical school in Muenster, Germany, and they very much want to, on their next visit, be paired up with Mayo Clinic, and find out what they're doing," Norton said. "On the sustainability front, Mayo Clinic already does a lot, and is a leader in that. And so, you know, I think we can make that happen."
Mayor Norton adds Rochester has been involved in the Climate-Smart Municipalities program for over five years. She says the American delegation's final visit to tour German facilities was supposed to take place before the pandemic, but organizers are now planning for it to happen once travel restrictions are lifted.