SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good morning, everyone.  It’s wonderful to see so many colleagues here this morning.  Thank you, everyone, for attending.  And Secretary General, wonderful to be with you.  We have a very busy day ahead, but I’m very grateful that everyone has agreed to start with this session this morning.  I have a few words to say at the outset before turning it over to the secretary general, and then starting our session.

So I want to welcome everyone, first and foremost, to the Summit Implementation Review Group Ministerial.  And I’d very much like to thank our vice chair, Foreign Minister Landa for his partnership, and of course Secretary General Almagro for his leadership.  I’m grateful to the representatives here of the Joint Summit Working Group for their efforts to actually turn our commitments into action.

In June, we met in Los Angeles for the Ninth Summit of the Americas.  There we adopted five core commitments to address big challenges facing our people – challenges that none of our countries can effectively address alone.  We arrived at these commitments following months of consultation between our governments, as well as engagement with civil society, with youth leaders, with the private sector.

First, we pledged to strengthen public health systems across the Americas, working alongside partners like civil society representatives, researchers, business leaders.  We’re focused on expanding access to quality, equitable health services, strengthening systems so that we can address challenges we face today and better detect and prevent future health emergencies.

Second, we committed to the first regional agenda for digital transformation – improving access to the internet and other digital tools, especially for historically marginalized communities.  That includes promoting digital literacy, privacy, and cyber security, and also accelerating the digital transformation of government services and using technology to make government more transparent.

Third, we committed to accelerate the clean energy transition by cutting emissions and expanding renewable energy.  We also pledged to help develop a responsible mining sector and strengthen the regional supply – mineral supply chains that are vital to powering clean energy technologies.

Fourth, we resolved to invest more in climate resilience, to help our committees adapt to the growing effects of climate change, from climate smart agriculture to sustainable fishing, and to improve disaster preparedness and response.  We’ll also help communities recover from droughts, from floods and storms.

Finally, we endorse the Inter-American Action Plan on Democratic Governance, committing to promote and protect human rights, the rule of law, and greater social inclusion.  We agreed to bolster transparent and accountable governance and combat threats to democracy from corruption and disinformation.

The point of this morning’s gathering is for us to report on the progress we’ve made toward realizing these five core commitments, to see where we can do more together, and to make actual plans for doing so.  That’s how we hold ourselves accountable and actually turn our pledges into action.

In a moment, I’ll suggest a calendar and working procedures for the coming year.  The calendar sets out a schedule for developing action plans, convening subject matter experts, and reporting on our progress over the next year.  The working procedures address logistics and outline the different roles and responsibilities for this group so that we can collaborate efficiently and effectively.

But first, let me quickly share some of what the United States has done since we last met.  For example, we’re working toward a pledge we made in support of the first commitment – strengthening health systems in the region.  In June, we announced that we’d joined the Pan American Health Organization to train 500,000 public health professionals in the region over the next five years.  That will dramatically increase access to health care for millions who don’t have it, and raise the quality of care for those who do.  Last week, our Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, hosted a meeting with his counterparts from across the region to develop an implementation plan so that we can help meet the needs of countries throughout our hemisphere.

We’re also making progress toward the third and fourth commitments – expanding clean energy, and adapting to climate change.  In the last few months, we began to implement PACC 2030, the U.S.-Caribbean partnership to address the climate crisis, by teaming up with Caribbean partners and technical experts to create action plans on energy security, climate-smart technology, and global food security.  Last month, Vice President Harris met with Carribean leaders in Washington to review our progress.

And we’re working toward our fifth commitment, strengthening democracy, by investing in civil society.  So far we’ve provided almost $2 million to REDLAD, the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy, to support civic engagement, including by helping civil society monitor countries’ implementation of their summit commitments.

Every one of these efforts is collaborative.  Every one is reaching across borders and across sectors.  Because the challenges we face are too big for any of our countries, governments, or people to solve alone.

So it’s critical that we continue to strengthen and expand these partnerships, and not just with federal governments, but also with mayors, with community leaders, with NGOs, with the private sector, with regional organizations.

That’s why the United States is hosting the first ever Cities Summit of the Americas in Denver next April.  We’ll bring together people from across the hemisphere, municipal and community leaders, entrepreneurs and academics, and indigenous and underrepresented groups, and we’ll find ways to build on our summit commitments at the local level to make progress on the issues that matter most in our communities.

As we move forward, we’ll also lay the groundwork for the Tenth Summit of the Americas.  Foreign Minister Alvarez has recently informed us of the offer by the Dominican Republic to host that summit.  The United States fully supports this offer.

These are early days for our common efforts, but we’ve already made concrete progress to implement the ambitious commitments that our leaders agreed to in Los Angeles.  Now we just need to keep up the momentum.

I very much look forward to hearing from colleagues about the areas where we’re making progress today, as well as in our future meetings.  And I look forward to discussing where we need to do more to build a strong, stable, prosperous, and resilient hemisphere for all of our people.

With that, let me turn it over to Secretary General Almagro.  Luis.

SECRETARY GENERAL ALMAGRO:  (Via interpreter) On behalf of the General Secretariat of the OAS and technical secretariat and institutional memory of the summit process, the JSWG offers or welcomes you to this meeting to look at the implementation of the summit as we celebrate the second General Assembly of the OAS.

Mr. Chairman, delegates, colleagues, three months ago we met in Los Angeles on the occasion of the ninth summit, in which we spoke of a host of urgent challenges faced by the hemisphere.  And we took actions accordingly – five different political commitments set by heads of state and government that were adopted.  Now, today, on the occasion of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, under the model of together against discrimination and inequality, we thank the U.S. for its leadership in carrying out a – or heading up a productive dialogue that led to the successful carrying out of the summit.  Despite the different perspectives that exist throughout the region, the ninth summit was an opportunity for leaders of the hemisphere to reach a shared commitment.

It is key within this context we continue progressing along those guidelines in a constructive way so that citizens of the – or that citizens of the hemisphere expect the political commitments and mandates adopted give us a framework, of course, to address the most pressing issues in the hemisphere and to adopt of host of public policies.  These commitments include the need to strengthen the health care systems, to establish a regional digital transformation agenda, climate change matters, and to address the needs of energy transition, and to protect our ecosystems, and to respond to growing threats to democracy, with special emphasis on the most vulnerable populations that have been historically sidelined.

Given its importance for all the countries in the region, we also underscore the initiatives announced by the chair during the ninth summit, such as the LA Declaration on immigration and protection and the alliance or partnership for prosperity of the Americas and the partnership of the U.S. and the Caribbean to 2030 for the climate change response.

Now, this all calls for political will and decision on the part of each government to work on building a focus that addresses deep social chasms that have only broadened during the pandemic.  At the OAS, based on our four pillars – democracy, human rights, sustainable development, multidimensional security – it falls to us to foster cooperation between the countries of the hemisphere with special focus on reducing vulnerabilities, capacity building, reducing the latent inequity that marks our hemisphere.

And the five different areas that we’ve negotiated led to action plans that we agreed to for digital transformation, democratic governance.  And the OAS has acknowledged (inaudible) wherewithal to do this and to offer support and coordination in the implementation phase.  To achieve these goals will call for much determination by the countries and transform their public policies.  To this effect, the full cooperation of the international community is very important, especially to bring to bear financial wherewithal for us to do so.

We celebrate the reconvening of the Joint Summits Working Group on the ninth summit and to tackle together these challenges that through coordination and collaboration ever strengthen – first, to contribute to sustainable, resilient, and equitable future.  This is an opportunity for us to seek out a greater convergence of our agendas, enabling us to address the multiple needs in the region.  As we will see during this general assembly and as we saw at the last summit, the region needs to redouble its efforts to move toward greater inclusion, equity, and more rights.  The path ahead should lead to concrete actions by states.  And my invitation is for us to continue working towards these goals.

We reiterate the summit secretariat’s commitment to undertake the substantive matters that are necessary to this end and to follow through on the implementation of the ninth summit and to continue strengthening participation, coordination of the JSWG and civil society and social actors in the inter-American ministerial processes, as an integral part of this process.  I wish for this meeting much success.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much, Secretary General.  I would now ask our colleagues from the media to depart.  We’ll give you a moment to do so.  Thank you.

U.S. Department of State

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