Gridlock on Critical Issues in National Governance Drives Cities from Across the Western Hemisphere to Come Together to Foster Solutions

July 28, 2022
Contact: Inter-American Dialogue 

The Inter-American Dialogue’s New Cities Initiative Will Provide a Much-Needed Forum for Innovative Solutions on Climate Change, Inclusive Economic Recovery, Health, Security, Migration and More 

Washington, DC – Today, the Inter-American Dialogue — a preeminent think-tank dedicated to Western Hemisphere affairs — announced its Cities Initiative. The program recognizes the critical impact local policy has on daily lives, as well as the important role subnational innovations can play as a catalyst for national policy change.  

The goal of this new initiative is to bring together mayors and other subnational leaders with diversity of thoughts, perspectives, and experiences from across the Americas and provide a forum for the productive sharing of ideas, challenges, and ultimately solutions to the pressing problems facing cities and towns today.  

“The innovative policies that are generated at the local level are more important than ever as we see national governments increasingly unable to take meaningful action to address today’s most pressing challenges,” said Rebecca Bill Chavez – President and CEO of the Inter-American Dialogue. “Citizen trust in local leaders tends to be higher than in national government, and they are looking to mayors and other subnational leaders to provide the necessary solutions.”  

The Cities Initiative is launching at a critical time. A recent gallup survey in the United States showed only 39 percent of Americans trust the federal government, while 66 percent trusted their local governments. The lack of faith in government has contributed to the democratic recession in the Western Hemisphere. The 2021 Latinobarómetro Report revealed that support for democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean has declined significantly from 63 percent in 2010 to 49 percent in 2020, in large part because citizens do not believe that democracy delivers. 

“Cities can serve as a bulwark against assaults on democracy in countries where extreme polarization is contributing to government dysfunction, political conflict, democratic erosion, and growing authoritarianism,” added Rebecca Bill Chavez. “Local level solutions can counter the loss of confidence in public institutions and increase normative support for democracy.” 

The launch of this new initiative comes on the heels of the successful Mayors Summit, an event hosted by the Dialogue, the Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles, and CAF-Development Bank of Latin America. The event focused on climate adaptation and migration and was held during the Ninth Summit of the Americas. Participants included U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose Fernandez, Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, and Mayor Claudia López of Bogotá, Colombia.  

“I applaud the Inter-American Dialogue for creating space for local leaders from throughout our hemisphere to learn from one another and share our successes across borders,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Cities are laboratories for the future, where we test and scale solutions to the world’s toughest challenges, from climate change to inequity.” 

The Mayors Summit highlighted that solutions to complex global issues are being created today at the local level. As stated by Secretary Blinken, “On every single cutting-edge issue that we have to deal with, whether it’s climate, whether it’s health, whether it’s technology, whether it’s transportation, this is where it’s happening. Your cities are…innovation labs where [federal governments] are learning from what you’re doing every single day and hopefully applying these lessons.” 

A sample of the mayors that have participated in the Dialogue’s City Initiative thus far include:  

  • Neyla Yadira Amú – Mayor of Timbiquí, Colombia 
  • Hardie Davis, Jr. – Mayor of Augusta, Georgia, United States 
  • Eric Garcetti – Mayor of Los Angeles, California, United States 
  • Michael Hancock – Mayor of Denver, Colorado, United States 
  • Tim Kelly – Mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States 
  • Yamileth López Obregón – Mayor of Upala, Costa Rica 
  • Claudia López – Bogotá, Colombia 
  • Joel Martinez – Mayor of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago 
  • Orlando Morando – Mayor of São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil 
  • Ron Nirenberg – Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, United States 
  • Alcides Gaspar Paz Morales – Mayor of Goascorán, Honduras  
  • Leonardo Stelatto – Mayor of Posadas, Argentina 

We are excited for the launch of the Inter-American Dialogue’s Cities Initiative which demonstrates that the Dialogue recognizes the circumstances of local governments and their importance in promoting local solutions to global challenges,” Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, Claudia López shared. “Bogotá also supports this initiative as an advocate for collaborative learning mechanisms between cities.” 

The Inter-American Dialogue’s Cities Initiative will continue in October with an event focusing on migration in Central America and Mexico. The first session will explore root causes of migration at the subnational level, and the second will focus on the integration of migrants into local communities. The forum will provide space to share perspectives, experiences, and solutions among local governments confronted with migration as a consequence of national and international realities. Additional Cities Initiative events and publications will be announced soon. 

For four decades, the Inter-American Dialogue has engaged our network of global leaders to foster democratic governance, prosperity, and social equity in Latin America and the Caribbean. Together, we work to shape policy debate, devise solutions, and enhance cooperation within the Western Hemisphere.