Cities Summit of the Americas
Cynthia Campbell, Director of PD&R’s International and Philanthropic Affairs Division.
The United States hosted the first Cities Summit of the Americas in Denver from April 24 to April 30, 2023. The summit is an offshoot of last year’s Summit of the Americas, a gathering of heads of state from member countries of the Organization of American States that is held every 3 to 4 years. The U.S. Department of State (State Department) takes the lead for our participation in the Summit of the Americas. The ninth summit, held in Los Angeles from June 1 to June 3, 2022, focused on the theme of “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future” for our hemisphere. During the summit, the State Department announced that the United States would host a follow up event focused on the most pressing challenges facing cities in the Western Hemisphere.
Our HUD team began planning for the Cities Summit of the Americas earlier this year in tandem with our counterparts in the State Department. The goal of the Cities Summit of the Americas was to gather regional, subnational, and national leaders as well as representatives from local and regional organizations, business interests, academia, youth and cultural movements, the arts, and indigenous and underrepresented groups to focus on issues affecting cities, including housing, sustainable development, migration, climate action, finance and investment, technology, and good governance.
Our HUD team hosted and participated in several events at the Cities Summit, the largest of which was a roundtable discussion titled “Homelessness: A Global Challenge Requiring Local Solutions.” The roundtable invited mayors and other leaders to have a frank and open conversation about how they address homelessness in their communities. Mayors from Tacoma, Washington; Hawaii County, Hawaii; and Tucson, Arizona shared their innovative approaches to resolving homelessness in their jurisdictions. We also heard from representatives from organizations such as Funders Together to End Homelessness, UN-Habitat, and the Canadian Urban Institute. Brazil’s urban development minister also described his country’s approach to addressing homelessness. Marion McFadden, principal deputy assistant secretary for HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development, led a roundtable and described best practices and solutions that the United States is adopting to address homelessness.
The Cities Summit of the Americas, hosted in Denver in April 2023, brings together a broad and diverse set of delegates to focus on pressing urban issues including housing, sustainability, migration, climate, finance and investment, technology, and good governance.
Solomon Greene, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for policy development and research at HUD, participated in a panel focused on localizing the housing agenda in the Western Hemisphere and creating environments that enable local and regional governments to implement the right to adequate housing. Beth Lynk, HUD’s assistant secretary for Public Affairs, participated in another roundtable focused on the issue of equity in digital access. Mia Bailey, senior program analyst in HUD’s International and Philanthropic Affairs Division, participated in a panel on equity. Finally, the HUD team gathered in the event’s Innovation Plaza for an open conversation about HUD programs.
The Cities Summit was also the site for the launch of the State Department’s Cities Forward initiative. Twelve U.S. cities will partner with 12 Latin American cities to share best practices and ideas to launch projects that support sustainability, create jobs, spur innovation, mitigate pollution, increase climate resiliency, and improve the general health and welfare of underserved communities. Local Governments for Sustainability, a State Department partner, is leading the application effort. The application deadline is June 15, 2023.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken delivered the closing remarks for the event. He highlighted the importance of bringing together representatives from cities across the Americas. “Cities, when you come down to it, are where democracy is closest to its people,” said Blinken. “And when cities are responsive to the needs of residents, they demonstrate democracy’s greatest strength: its ability to improve on itself, to empower citizens to hold their leaders accountable, to try out different solutions, and to allow the best ideas to rise to the top. We’re hosting the Cities Summit of the Americas because our collective ability to deliver for our people and to tackle global issues depends on all of you. It’s as simple and as straightforward as that. And we look forward to continuing to elevate your voices in every dimension of our work in the hemisphere, including at the Tenth Summit of the Americas that’ll be hosted by the Dominican Republic. And it’s also why we plan for this to be the first but not the last of many Cities Summits to come.”