Announcing the Inaugural Cities Summit of the Americas and Cities Forward Initiative

06/07/2022 07:34 PM EDT

Office of the Spokesperson

The U.S. Department of State and the City of Denver, Colorado will host city leaders from throughout the Americas for the first-ever Cities Summit and deliver related technical assistance through the new Cities Forward initiative.

Today on the eve of the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the United States will host the inaugural Cities Summit of the Americas in April 2023 in Denver, Colorado to ensure meaningful implementation of commitments emanating from the Ninth Summit.  The Biden-Harris Administration is deepening U.S. engagement with city stakeholders like mayors and city planners in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the innovative Cities Summit will convene these decisionmakers with their U.S. counterparts to help ensure the cities of the Americas achieve their full potential.  Secretary Blinken’s announcement represents a first of its kind, U.S. government-led subnational effort that will focus city, state, municipal, and regional elected leaders from throughout the Western Hemisphere on shared challenges and opportunities alongside diverse stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, and youth.  Together, these groups will ensure the Cities Summit creates new economic opportunities and drives implementation of leader-level commitments from the Ninth Summit.  We are proud to partner with the City of Denver and Mayor Michael Hancock in this endeavor, which will highlight Colorado’s dynamism and close connections with the region.

To further the objectives of the Cities Summit, Secretary Blinken also announced the launch of the administration’s Cities Forward initiative.  Cities Forward is a peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, capacity building, and diplomatic engagement program focused on solving urban issues ranging from sustainability to inclusion to climate resiliency.  Contributing U.S. agencies will equip local leaders throughout the region with new tools and new partnerships with U.S. city and private sector partners to address shared challenges. Funding will help participating cities develop sustainability action plans to ignite equitable job creation and innovation investment; mitigate air, soil and water pollution; strengthen climate resilience in the built environment; and improve the health and welfare of under-served communities.

The Biden-Harris Administration recognizes the importance of local communities and their capacity to positively impact the nexus of foreign and domestic economic policy.  Consequently, the Administration remains committed to fostering and executing a foreign policy agenda for all Americans.  Both the Cities Summit and Cities Forward initiative move this vision forward in tangible ways with our closest international neighbors, providing new opportunities for communities big and small to build a stronger and more equitable economic foundation, protect democratic institutions and processes, strengthen sustainable development, ensure a clean healthy environment for all, and spur innovation across the hemisphere.

Cities Summit

The inaugural Cities Summit announced today will convene in Denver hundreds of local elected officials from the United States and across the Western Hemisphere, as well as thousands of private stakeholders.  Building on the commitments made throughout the Ninth Summit of the Americas and leveraging the expertise of local leaders both inside and outside of government, the Cities Summit will empower elected officials, businesses, and private organizations to collaborate and develop new solutions to the most pressing issues facing communities, including on sustainable development, climate resilience, democracy renewal, foreign direct investment, women’s empowerment, uplifting underserved communities, and public safety.  These solutions will subsequently form and power future investment and cooperation throughout the region.

Over the coming year, the State Department will work with the City of Denver and cities around the United States, as well as U.S. agencies like the Departments of Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation, on developing a substantive program for the Summit based on extensive stakeholder engagement.  These efforts will be grounded in the Administration’s overarching priorities of inclusivity, renewal, international collaboration, and equitable development.  The following core components of the Cities Summit will ensure the engagement delivers tangible results for cities in the United States and our partners abroad:

  • Mayors Plenary – The plenary will offer mayors the opportunity to engage with fellow local elected leaders on shared challenges and explore opportunities for collaboration, innovation, and mutual investment.
  • Commercial Expo – An overarching objective of the Cities Summit is to foster new economic, investment, and trade opportunities amongst cities and businesses. As such, the Cities Summit will host a Commercial Expo showcasing small, medium, and large companies that provide goods and services aimed at helping communities respond to challenges they may face.  The expo will additionally elicit opportunities for discussion on foreign direct investment into cities, opening new avenues for economic partnership throughout the region.
  • Stakeholder and Community Programs – The Cities Summit recognizes that empowering individuals from all corners of a community is vital to strengthening the health, safety, resiliency, and economic development of cities and localities. Partnering with the City of Denver, the Administration will help develop for the Summit a variety of stakeholder and community programs, ranging from cultural exchanges to public exhibits to technology and innovation demonstrations.

Cities Forward

The Cities Forward initiative launched today will focus on solving key sustainability, equity and resilience issues.  It will have three interconnected components that will be elaborated in phases. In the first phase, we will match large, medium and small cities in the United States with counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean for peer-to-peer learning and connection.  The second phase will consist of a series of multi-stakeholder charrettes held in participating cities to help them develop their own sustainability action plans.  In the third phase, Cities Forward will help cities achieve the goals they have set for themselves through partnerships with the private sector, the research and academic community, philanthropies, NGOs, development finance entities, multilateral organizations, and U.S. government agencies.  Cities Forward will be guided by three key principles: 1) It will be city-led: local stakeholders will lead action plan design and local project implementation; 2) The least are first: actions taken must benefit the cities’ poorest, most vulnerable citizens; and 3) Sustainability: solutions must be environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.