MS BILL-CHAVEZ: So my name is Rebecca Bill-Chavez. I’m the president and CEO of the Inter-American Dialogue; the host of this event, Mayor Garcetti, and (inaudible). (Laughter.) There you are. Sorry (inaudible).
And so thank you so much, Mr. Secretary, for joining us. We’ve spent the day talking about global solutions to some of the most pressing challenges that the hemisphere is facing, so we have a gathering of mayors from the United States as well as from Latin America and the Caribbean, and we’re all just thrilled you could join us.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you, Rebecca, so much. First of all, it’s wonderful to see all of the colleagues here. I want to thank you, Rebecca. I want to thank the Inter-American Dialogue for bringing us together (inaudible). Mr. Mayor of the City of Los Angeles, thank you, thank you, thank you. We have an old bad joke here where we say, “I’m from the federal government. I’m here to help.” (Laughter.) Well, the truth is mayors can say, “I’m the mayor. I actually do help.” You make a huge difference every single day. This is where, as you know better than I do, citizenry and government really come together.
And 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 in so many ways innovation labs where we are learning from what you’re doing every single day and hopefully applying these lessons.
As I said, it’s also where there is more democratic connectivity than at any other level of government. And so to the extent that we need to demonstrate – and I believe that we do – that democracies can really effectively deliver for their citizens, you are the ones who are doing it, and we will rise or fall on the success that you have.
So one of the things that we really wanted to do is to foster even greater connectivity among mayors, among municipalities, and we’re doing that in a way that I am extremely excited by. We’re going to have the first Cities Summit of the Americas next year in Denver. (Applause.) I think it’s incredibly fitting that we’re doing this in Denver, which is really an extraordinary innovation hub in the United States. We’re going to be bringing together city leaders. We’re going to bring together the private sector, advocates, communities – all to look at how we can make our urban environments work better and find solutions. And of course, our own hemisphere is the most heavily urbanized part of the world. Eighty percent of the people in our hemisphere live in cities. The success that cities have will make all the difference in our future.
We’re also launching an initiative called Cities Forward, where we’re going to be bringing municipalities together with technical experts to find sustainable solutions to the challenges that we all face and that our citizens face.
So for me this is the very first event of the Summit of the Americas. (Applause.) I’m really looking (inaudible) with all of you. (Laughter.) Okay. Mostly I’m really excited to see what you’re all going to be doing, both here in the next few days, but also over the next few years. We’ll be in Denver next year, look forward to that. But meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Mr. Mayor, thank you, thank you, thank you. And to all of you, we’ll have a great summit. Thank you so much.