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Diplomacy in Action

The Connector: Volume 9, December 2013

January 6, 2014


Letter from the Acting Special Representative

Dear Colleagues,

As you will read in this issue of The Connector, our office continues to collaborate with state and local leaders to support and coordinate subnational engagement in the United States and abroad.

This quarter, I would like to highlight White House initiatives that parallel our efforts and have resulted in successful outcomes. I had the privilege to attend the 2013 White House Tribal Nations Conference on November 13. President Obama hosted the conference, now in its fifth year, at the Department of the Interior. It was inspiring to hear U.S. Cabinet Secretaries and tribal leaders speak about the progress each had made during the past year, and offer their suggestions for moving forward. Almost two weeks before the White House Tribal Nations Conference, the Obama Administration highlighted the value of subnational and tribal leaders in President Obama’s Executive Order on Climate Preparedness. The Executive Order creates a Task Force of state, local, and tribal leaders who will advise the Administration on how the Federal Government can respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are dealing with the impacts of climate change. The Task Force met for the first time on December 10, 2013, and focused on building climate resilience into efforts to better prepare for and recover from natural disasters. Our office is committed to supporting the goals of the Executive Order and looks forward to future opportunities to work with the Task Force.

Looking forward, the early months of 2014 will be an exciting time for global and domestic subnational engagement. Domestically, many of the subnational organizations we work closely with will hold their winter meetings in January, several of them in Washington, DC. Globally, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group will hold its 2014 Mayors Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, and this will be followed by the 2014 U.S.-China Sister Cities Conference in Washington, DC World Urban Forum 7 in Medellin, Columbia, will be held in early 2014, as well. We are looking forward to meeting newly elected state and local leaders and reconnecting with our friends at their annual DC meetings in the coming months.

Best regards,

Mary Pensabene Acting Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs

Did You Know?

 Together, the United States and China account for more than 40 percent of global coal consumption.

 Ten out of thirteen South American countries border Brazil; only Chile and Ecuador do not.

 Of Fortune 500’s top companies in the world, 400 of those have invested and manufactured in China.

S/SRGIA Engages U.S. Tribal Nations

On November 13, 2013, President Barack Obama hosted representatives from among the 566 federally recognized American Indian and Alaskan Native tribes at the 2013 White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Department of Interior.

During this fifth annual conference, representatives from the newly established White House Council on Native American Affairs engaged in a dialogue with tribal leaders. As mandated by Executive Order 13175, the Office of the Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs (S/SRGIA) is required to have regular and meaningful consultations and collaboration with U.S. tribal leaders regarding Federal policies that have tribal implications. As part of this mandate, Acting Special Representative Mary Pensabene attended the conference and participated in the dialogue between tribal leaders and U.S. Government officials.

Since its creation in 2010, S/SRGIA has carried out its mandate and fostered government-to-government consultations with federally recognized Tribal Nations. In 2010, S/SRGIA led one such consultation in conjunction with the National Congress of American Indians mid-year conference. This represented the first in a series of three consultations with tribal leaders and intergovernmental agencies regarding the U.S. review of its position on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

On September 26, 2012, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Commerce hosted a gathering of Native American and Alaskan Native chiefs and other tribal leaders representing 25 states. Following the consultation, then Special Representative Reta Jo Lewis delivered remarks at the White House Business Forum. Lewis emphasized the Department of State’s commitment towards tribal consultation in the context of U.S. Support for the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous People. In keeping with the Department of State’s commitment to tribal engagement, S/SRGIA would like to welcome Mr. Jack Jackson, Jr. to the Department of State as the Senior Advisor and Liaison for Native American Affairs in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES). Mr. Jackson joined the Department this year and serves as an expert on tribal relations and represents the Department in efforts to engage Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations in government-to-government consultations as well as other policy issues pursuant to Executive Order 13175 and consistent with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. S/SRGIA values the progress made in cultivating tribal relationships and looks forward to continued engagement with Tribal Nations.

U.S. Mayors Participate in International Forum Focused on Sustainable Urban Development and Good Governance

The Permanent Missions of the United States and Colombia to the Organization of American States (OAS), Florida International Univer-sity, and Miami-Dade County co-hosted a forum in Miami entitled, “Towards Sustainable and Resilient Communities in the Americas,” December 2-4, 2013. S/SRGIA worked closely with USOAS to recruit U.S. mayors who have extensive experience with successful planning and implementation of policies that support city sustainability and resilience.

The forum included 17 mayors from the United States, Central America and the Caribbean, and representatives from U.S. agencies, including the Department of State and USAID, to encourage cooperation and exchange of knowledge and best practices related to urbanization, sustainable development, economic opportunity, and democratic governance. The forum also focused on city disaster response systems and ideas on how cities can increase their capacity in local resiliency. Mayor Richard Berry, Albuquerque, NM; Mayor Frank Cownie, Des Moines, IA; and Mayor Don Plusquellic, Akron, OH; served as panelists at the forum, and shared their experiences in urban development and effective city management. Mayor Plusquellic offered his experiences with a local bio-gas digester facility, as well as Akron’s participation as a (Resource)/City Links city. Ricardo José Arango, Colombian Manager for the upcoming World Urban Forum 7 (WUF) in Medellin, Colombia, delivered a special address at the conference concerning leadership, innovation, and public participation in effective city governance.

The outcomes of this forum will feed into the OAS Sustainable Cities initiative and participation in the WUF 7 in April. S/SRGIA was grateful for the opportunity to assist USOAS in reaching out to U.S. mayors who shared their wealth of experiences at the forum. We look forward to further collaboration with USOAS and with Mayors Berry, Cownie, and Plusquellic.

U.S. Tribal Leaders Participate in XII Brazilian Indigenous Games

Dr. Richard Littlebear, President, Chief Dull Knife College (Northern Cheyenne), and Dr. David Yarlott, President, Little Big Horn College (Crow), represented the U.S. Tribal Nations at the XII Brazilian Indigenous Games in Cuiaba, Mato Grosso, Brazil, November 8-16, 2013. Dr. Littlebear and Dr. Yarlott participated in the games as members of an International Committee of Indigenous Leaders whose goal was to transform the Brazilian Indigenous Games concept into the World Indigenous Games in 2015.

The Brazilian Indigenous Games began in 1996 and are sponsored by the Government of Brazil to raise awareness of and to celebrate the culture of its indigenous peoples. This year’s event included 48 Brazilian tribes with 1,600 participants. S/SRGIA played an instrumental role in recruiting the Native American delegation. At the request of the Brazilian Ministry of Sport, U.S. Embassy Brasilia reached out to S/SRGIA to identify U.S. indigenous representatives to participate in the games. S/SRGIA, with support from the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, invited Dr. Littlebear and Dr. Yarlott to represent U.S. Tribal Nations.

The presidents of tribal colleges uniquely represent the U.S. Tribal Nations, as tribal colleges serve students from more than 230 of the 566 federally recognized tribal nations. Dr. Littlebear and Dr. Yarlott joined indigenous delegations from 17 other countries to form a Committee of Indigenous Leaders. The Committee held multiple planning sessions and wrote a declaration for the 2015 World Indigenous Games which the Brazilian Minister of Sport signed. Organizers invited Dr. Littlebear and Dr. Yarlott to join the procession of tribes at the Opening Ceremony and as they entered the arena of nearly 10,000 spectators and tribal participants the public address system announced the Native American involvement; minutes later Brazilian tribes approached them for photos.

The delegation also attended several cultural events held during the games. As word continued to spread at the site that they represented tribal colleges, the organizers asked Dr. Littlebear and Dr. Yarlott to give a seminar on tribal college history, tribal curriculum and opportunities for Brazilian indigenous peoples to study in the tribal college system. Dr. Littlebear and Yarlott also met with the Brazilian Minister of Sport, Mr. Aldo Rebelo, the Governor of Mato Grosso, Mr. Silval de Cunha Barbosa, and many Brazilian indigenous elders and leaders. The games featured a variety of traditional indigenous games including swimming, foot races, archery, tug-of-war, log races, canoe racing, spear throwing, and several others.

The games serve a dual purpose of celebrating the culture of Brazil’s indigenous peoples and creating a forum for discussion and collaboration on raising awareness of indigenous issues. With the foreign indigenous partic-ipation at this year’s event, the organizers realized their goal of an “outdoor classroom” that facilitated international cultural exchanges between Brazil’s tribes and visiting indigenous leaders. Thousands of daily spectators also saw first-hand the indigenous sports and cultural celebration. International media reporting from the games was picked up in over 50 countries including U.S. newspapers in Florida, California, Nevada, New Jersey, Maine, Georgia, and Idaho.

S/SRGIA was enthused to have played a role in reaching out to U.S. Tribal Communities.

Global Mayors Meet to Discuss Sustainability

Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) held its annual conference in Nantes, France, September 27-28, 2013. ICLEI provides a platform for mayors from around the globe to gather, share knowledge, and work collaboratively to form tangible solutions on climate-related issues affecting their cities. Over 100 local government representatives from 42 countries, including four U.S. mayors, gathered to participate in the exchange of ideas. Mayors must be uniquely pragmatic in governing their cities. The decisions that mayors make often have immediate and impactful results. As a result, mayors must be skilled in effectively finding tangible, applicable solutions that can better their communities.

An important aspect of city governance is the ability to understand whether certain programs, initiatives, or actions will succeed or fail. Fortunately, many cities have common problems and have developed unique solutions. The ICLEI conference provided a forum for mayors to exchange public policy recommendations and to learn what policies and solutions have worked—or have not worked—for other cities in similar situations. The conference helped to build relationships between these mayors, which allow them to develop more effective ways to advance public policy. The conference also served as an avenue for mayors to form the foundations of future trade missions, contracts, and university exchange programs that enrich their cities through intellectual exchange in research and development. Environmental obstacles are increasingly felt at the city level. A recent study by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group explained that 50% of cities are already dealing with the effects of climate change and nearly all are at risk. In the face of increased environmental concerns, many cities are approaching resiliency as an economic opportunity that can help build the economy, diminish poverty, and increase public health.

Through ICLEI, mayors gain access to climate and energy tools, trainings networks, and technical guidance. Their participation in this global forum leads to sharing best practices and lessons learned with other mayors who have faced similar situations. U.S. Mayors from Boulder, Colorado; Des Moines, Iowa; and Santa Monica, California traveled to Nantes to participate in the ICLEI conference. They attended meetings focusing on financing local climate action and heard reports from other subnational leaders on their actions and commitment to climate concerns. The conference culminated in the signing of the Nantes Declaration of Mayors and Subnational Leaders on Climate Change Local Government Climate Roadmap 2013-2015.

The ultimate goal of this document was to serve as a reference for the international climate negotiations at the nineteenth session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Conference of Parties (COP 19), November 11–22, 2013, in Warsaw, Poland.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales Visits China

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, along with a delegation of 20 Portlanders, traveled to the Chinese Province of Yunnan, October 25-November 3, 2013. Mayor Hales’ visit demonstrated the importance of collaborative efforts for subnational leaders in building trust, learning each other’s cultures, and sharing ideas to better their respective cities. Mayor Hales met with several Chinese officials to discuss green cities and environmental programs, celebrate and strengthen their sister-city union with Suzhou, and share art between the two cities. “This sort of mission is vital,” Mayor Hales said of the trip, “As a Pacific Rim city, our economic vibrancy, our artistic community, and even our environmental initiatives are linked to Asia.

Trips like this can promote better understanding on a wide array of topics.” Mayor Hales’ trip carried the theme of environmental engagement among subnational leaders. Mayor Hales shared Portland’s commitment to low carbon livability and green city development with Dr. Zhaou, a dedicated urban planner and Party Secretary and head of Chenggong District in Kunming. Chenggong aims to adapt and implement Portland’s pioneering eco-districts. Chenggong is one of only eight “low carbon districts” in China and is the first to embrace “green building” techniques. Mayor Hales also met with the Mayor of Suzhou, Naixiang Zhou, and members of the Portland-Suzhou Sister City Association.

The sister-city relationship between Portland and Suzhou began in 1988 and is in its 25th year. Through their relationship, citizens in Portland and Suzhou have found ways to connect the communities through a shared interest in art. On his visit, Mayor Hales brought with him a photo exhibit by Portland artist Grace Lim, which had previously been on display in Portland, to be displayed in Suzhou. On behalf the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Mayor Hales accepted Chinese artist Huo Baozhu’s donation of a bronze statue of an ancient Chinese physician, Sun Simiao. Mr. Baozhu donated the work in appreciation for leukemia treatment he received in Portland and has pledged more works to the city to fundraise for its homelessness initiative. Subnational engagement, as demonstrated by Mayor Hales’ recent trip, is a strong force for building solidarity, sharing ideas and knowledge, and bettering communities across borders. It is the hope of S/SRGIA that strong, mutually beneficial relationships akin to the Portland-Suzhou relationship will continue to flourish across the United States and around the world.

Manatee-Sarasota Awarded World Rowing Championship

On September 1, 2013, the International Federation of Rowing Associations, the governing body of the sport of rowing, announced in Chung-ju, South Korea its unanimous decision to award the Florida counties of Manatee-Saratoga the bid for the 2017 World Rowing Championship. The United States last hosted the World Rowing Championship in Indianapolis in 1994. Manatee and Sarasota counties are home to Olympic-caliber Nathan Benderson Park, the premier rowing venue in North America. The rowing competition will bring more than 42,000 athletes, coaches, and fans from over 70 countries to compete. The event will be televised to an audience of over 130 million people. The counties will not only have an opportunity to bolster their economies from the games directly, but will also have a platform to globally showcase potential tourist opportunities. The competition and its venues will attract future visitors to Manatee-Sarasota for competition and training camps. S/SRGIA supported Manatee and Saratoga counties in crafting their bid. The counties approached S/SRGIA earlier in the year to request assistance with making necessary assurances.

In June, Acting Special Representative Mary Pensabene hosted a Department briefing for representatives of the counties to meet with officials from the Bureau of Consular Affairs and the U.S. Olympic Committee to discuss how best to craft their bid. The counties competed against nine cities for the bid and worked for more than three years to win the honor of hosting the championship. Now that Manatee-Sarasota counties have secured the championship, the countdown is on until September 2017.

State and Local Leaders at Home and Abroad

Several subnational leaders have engaged with global partners since the last publication of the Connector in October 2013. S/SRGIA recognizes the impact of these trips and applauds subnational leaders in their efforts to strengthen their communities through interna-tional engagement.


 Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley Governor Martin O’Malley led a nine-day trade mission to Brazil and El Salvador, December 1-9, with leaders from Maryland’s Port Authority and over 30 Maryland businesses. Governor O’Malley utilized the mission to promote economic growth in Maryland and to encourage foreign direct investment.

 Seven U.S. Mayors travel to Saudi Arabia A delegation of seven U.S. mayors visited Saudi Arabia December 6-3 as guests of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC, and assisted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The delegation was comprised of Mayor Brian Barnett, Roch ester Hills, MI; Mayor William Bell, Birmingham, AL; Mayor Shane Bemis, Gresham, OR; Mayor Joy Cooper, Hallandale Beach, FL; Mayor Beth Van Duyne, Irving, TX; Mayor Lori Moseley, Miramar, FL; and Mayor Setti Warren, Newton, MA. During the trip, the mayors held meetings with high ranking government officials, private companies, and academic institutions.


 Florida Governor Rick Scott Florida Governor Rick Scott departed November 20 on a one-week trade mission to Japan. With a delegation of more than 20 business leaders, Governor Scott met with dozens of leading Japanese companies and promoted Florida’s business potential to more than 350 business leaders at seminars and forums. Foreign direct investment (FDI) accounts for 236,000 jobs in Florida and Governor Scott aims to attract even more.

 National League of Cities The National League of Cities (NLC) held its annual Congress of Cities and Exposition in Seattle, November 13-16. The three-day conference showcased the dynamic ways cities are driving change and finding successful solutions to pressing challenges in local government. During the conference, the NLC announced St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman as its new president.

 Idaho Governor Butch Otto Governor Butch Otto, led representatives of 17 Idaho-based companies, on the first Idaho trade mission to Russia, November 15 -23, in an effort to open doors for Idaho companies to enter international markets.


 San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee Mayor Edwin Lee traveled to South Korea and China. He strengthened relationships with sister cities in each country, signing MOUs with Seoul and Shanghai, and infrastructure, energy, recycling and arts agreements with Bangalore. San Francisco has sister-city relationships with each of these cities.


The FIFA World Cup in Brazil will run from Thursday June 12, 2014 to Sunday July 13, 2014. The event will be held in 12 cities across Brazil. From Friday, December 20, 2013 there are 173 days until kick-off!

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