A vast array of distinguished experts and officials intervened throughout the discussion. Jason Marczak, senior director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center of the Atlantic Council moderated a brief interview with assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs Brian Nichols. Then, Mary Ann Walker, senior advisor for the Summit of the Americas hosted a session that involved Delroy Williams, mayor of Kingston, Jamaica, Nina Hachigian, deputy mayor of International Affairs in Los Angeles and Joseph Losavio, manager of ecosystem engagement for the Global Cities initiative of Mastercard. Finally, Rebecca Bill Chavez, President and CEO of the Inter-American Dialogue led an exchange with mayor of Denver Michael Hancock.
Jason Marczak kicked off the first part of the event by recalling on some of the key deliverables of the Los Angeles Summit of the Americas held in June 2022, such as health resilience, economic prosperity, and climate change. Assistant secretary Nichols followed up by underlining a few of the major initiatives announced that will take shape in the coming years like the training of five-hundred thousand health workers across the hemisphere, the commitments contained in the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration, among others. Furthermore, he identified key areas of policy implementation that came out of the Summit such as digital access, food security and clean energy. Nichols concluded his remarks by stressing the importance of the coming Denver Cities Summit 2023 as a forum of dialogue for mayors and local leaders to share concerns as well as best practices in urban development and planning. This, he added, will also be a great opportunity for the US private sector members to meet new potential clients.
The conversation continued with the intervention of mayor Williams from Kingston, Jamaica, who elaborated on his experience hosting the Caribbean Conference of Mayors back in 2018. The Mayor highlighted that, other than confronting similar challenges today, cities in the Caribbean also share a common history and culture, reason for which it’s important to stick together in pursuing common economic pathways. However, this unity in facing global issues must go beyond the Caribbean which is why the Denver Cities Summit will be a great initiative that provides a common forum for dialogue. Ambassador Hacigian took the floor and reiterated the importance of dialogue between cities, to which inspiration and creative solutions automatically follow. In order for smaller cities to reach the benefits of international partnerships, Hacigian added, it’s essential to network with diaspora communities abroad, foreign service officials, world affairs councils, NGOs and academia. Joseph Losavio ended the session by describing the experience of Mastercard in building an ecosystem of cities innovation that provides a platform for dialogue through the Global Cities Initiative.
The last section of the event was dedicated to an interview of Mayor Hancock of Denver by Rebecca Bill Chavez. Chavez started her remarks by underlining how events such as this one are key to show that cities are at the forefront of addressing the most important challenges. Chavez proceeded to ask Mayor Hancock what the main policy objectives from the coming Denver Cities Summit of 2023 will be. Hancock highlighted the issues of safety and crime, democracy, climate action, women empowerment and Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), among others. To achieve these results, he stated that the private sector is fundamental to drive investments in the areas that are important to local leaders as well as the people they represent.
Chavez stressed the success Denver has had in becoming a global hub for investments and cultural exchange, to which Hancock responded by stating the importance of sharing best practices so that other cities can enjoy the benefits of international cooperation. Connectivity among cities was described as another step to improve international partnerships, not only digitally, but also physically in the form of travelling. The office of Mayor Hancock has been working extensively on its airport by creating new direct flights to the city of Denver, which increased tourism by 88% and has had positive effects on FDI and cultural exchanges. To conclude, Chavez raised the theme of migration, one of the largest challenges facing the hemisphere and one of the top issues on the agenda for cities as was shown in the Mayors Summit, put on by the Dialogue and CAF-Development Bank of Latin America, held during the Summit of the Americas. Mayor Hancock emphasized the fact that safety starts with inclusion, as there is nothing more dangerous than people without hope. As a result, the city of Denver wants to be inclusive and make of diversity a value to be committed to.
It was just over a year ago that leaders of 34 nations of the hemisphere gathered in Trinidad and Tobago for the Summit of the Americas. How much progress has been made in the past year on the goals expressed at the summit?