Great Lakes


The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a binational coalition of over 200 U.S. and Canadian mayors and local officials working to advance the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin. The Cities Initiative and local officials integrate environmental, economic and social agendas and sustain a resource that represents approximately 20 percent of the world’s surface freshwater supply, provides drinking water for 40 million people, and is the foundation upon which a strong regional economy is based.

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Upcoming Events

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The Richard M. Daley Water Equity Community Award

BACKGROUND:  This award was inspired by former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s passion for our lakes and rivers. Mayor Daley’s leadership went far beyond Chicago as he became an unparalleled national and international advocate for protecting these precious resources.  Donate Today!

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September 21, 2023 - Registration Open

Environmental Finance Centers: Accessing Technical Assistance for Water-Infrastructure Projects (U.S. Members Only) and Leaders for Sustainable Change: 2023 Wege Project Winners (Canadian Members Only)

2023 Webinars The Cities Initiative will continue its monthly webinar series in 2023.  Check back often for additional webinars.



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Resilient Coastal Projects Initiative

With funding through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Fund for Lake Michigan and the Erb Family Foundation, the Cities Initiative has established a $2 million coastal resilience technical assistance program. The Resilient Coastal Project Initiative (RCPI) provides support to municipalities to increase local resilience to climate change using nature-based solutions that will connect people to nature and protect water quality. Partners for the RCPI include regional planning agencies, local non-profit organizations, state coastal programs and provincial conservation authorities, regulatory partners, and engineering partners, including Stantec and LimnoTech. By 2024, the RCPI will assist ninety communities in the United States in developing project plans and pursuing funding opportunities. The Cities Initiative is piloting the program in Ontario and Quebec in early 2023 and will pursue funding opportunities to expand the program’s reach in Canada.

Mayors Commission on Water Equity

The Mayors Water Equity Commission is comprised of approximately 10 mayors from across the Great Lakes region. The Cities Initiative staff will support its work with assistance from technical experts from the water industry and national leaders advancing integrated and inclusive approaches to water stewardship. The Commission will guide the development of an ongoing Water Equity Initiative for Great Lakes Cities that will develop cross-sector collaborations; exchange information and best practices; and build capacity among municipal governments and their partners to ensure equitable access to water resources and benefits. We also work with Congress and state legislatures to secure funding for badly needed water infrastructure investments in our cities.

Mayors Commission on Coastal Resilience

The purpose of the Cities Initiative’s Mayors Commission on Coastal Resilience is to work with the mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River on both sides of the border to develop a plan on how to mitigate the considerable damage to their shorelines caused by erosion, flooding and other impacts from high lake levels and climate change. Private sector, public sector and nonprofit agencies and organizations will come together to deliver recommended actions and examples of best practices.


June 7, 2023

Implementing the Inflation Reduction Act in Chicago and Other Basin Cities

Last year, the Biden Administration secured the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which provides $369 billion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance climate resilience across the United States, including $5 billion for the design and implementation of climate action plans. Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson has called for a Green New Deal for Chicago residents, emphasizing the need for climate action, environmental justice and inclusive economic development

June 7, 2023

Basin Cities Delivering on Climate Action

Many communities across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin have adopted a climate action plan. While climate action plans generally have the same components, local circumstances often differ, as do the stories of how plans are successfully crafted, adopted, and implemented.

June 7, 2023

Climate Action in Illinois: Governor J.B. Pritzker

September 15, 2022

One Water Summit

Milwaukee, WI

April 29, 2021

The Need for Action on Lead in Water

One thing we know is this: Lead is a danger to everyone - Mayor Sheldon Neeley, Flint, Mich.

April 29, 2021

The Challenges of Water Affordability

There probably isn’t anything in this country funded more inequitably than water - Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit, Mich

April 29, 2021

Water Workforce Development Opportunities

Building a labor pipeline to rebuild our water lines; Creating jobs by addressing our water infrastructure challenges - Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee, Wisc.