The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2022

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 27 Des Moines’ mayor connects the dots between work at the local level in America and effective global climate leadership. BY FRANK COWN I E Using Subnational Diplomacy to Combat Climate Change Elected in 2004, Frank Cownie is the longest-serving mayor in the history of Des Moines, Iowa. He is a businessman and public servant with decades of commitment to environmental issues. Mayor Cownie currently serves as president of the Global Executive Committee for Local Governments for Sustainability, or ICLEI, a global network of more than 2,500 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. T he Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released in August 2021 is clear. We have no more time to wait. The drastic effects of climate change are fueling catastrophic weather events around the globe. As the mayor of Des Moines, Iowa, I know that these threats and the chal- lenges they present for my community are very real and unavoidable. In 2020 a straight-line windstorm called a derecho, equivalent in strength to a Category 4 hurricane, caused severe damage across Des Moines and throughout much of Iowa. Residents and businesses were without power, in some cases for more than a week, while others dealt with damage to buildings from high winds or downed trees. Just two years before, massive flooding followed 5-10 inches of rain that fell within a five-hour period, inundating the city, washing away vehicles and overwhelming stormwater infrastructure. American cities are not alone in this experience. Local (subnational) governments around the world are dealing with their own challenges from heat waves, wildfires, sea level rise and other events. Many of you probably have seen firsthand the effects of climate change, some perhaps more severe, where you live or have been posted. The science is clear: These ordeals are a FOCUS ON SUBNATIONAL DIPLOMACY YANNBLINDSALIDA