Chicago Mayor Daley Convenes Mayors Hemispheric Forum in Chicago
Thirty-Six Mayors from Fifteen Nations Discuss Security, the Environment, Globalization
By Kay Scrimger and Geri Powell
October 8, 2007
Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Conference of Mayors Past President, hosted the Mayors Hemispheric Forum in Chicago September 23-26. With thirty'six mayors from fifteen countries participating, the forum provided an opportunity for Canadian, U.S., and Central and South American local leaders to discuss and share information on three key topics – security, the environment, and globalization.
In Daley’s words, “These mayors understand, as I do, that urban centers are where the greatest concentrations of people will be living during the twenty-first century. And these cities will be brought closer and closer together through global commerce and technology.
“That’s why meetings such as this one are important. The information we’re exchanging here and the relationships we’re building will pay great benefits to all our cities and our residents in the days to come.”
Key Forum Issues: Security, the Environment, Globalization
Security: Diaz led the first session, which highlighted security issues mayors confront, such as the proliferation of assault weapons and the increase of gang and drug related violence across the hemisphere.
Diaz cited the recent death of Miami-Dade police officer Jose Somohano as a tragic example of the dangerous rise of assault weapons in city streets. “We are living in a precarious situation that affects all of us and begs for international cooperation to fight what has become transnational crime,” Diaz said.
Environment: Miller chaired the second session on the environment. Mayors exchanged information about specific challenges in their own cities and described effective ways in which their cities address climate change and other environmental problems.
Rio de Janeiro Mayor Cesar Maia observed the need for more comparative analysis about how cities are meeting environmental challenges and how they determine statistical benchmarks of progress. “An across-the-board matrix would help accumulate data that would allow measurement and development of standards by which we could better valuate cities’ performance in this area of the environment,” he said.
Venezuelan mayors, Caracas-Chacao Mayor Leopold Lopez and Torres Mayor Julio Chavez, discussed their problems of desertification, methane emissions in landfills, severe water shortages, and their efforts at sustainable and environmental protection through such methods as reforestation.
Daley discussed the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCE) and pointed out that the CCE “is the world’s first and North America’s only voluntary, legally-binding greenhouse reduction program.”
Diaz pointed out that, “We, in the United States, are active in the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which has a Climate Protection Center. We can draw upon this very valuable resource of information which the Conference of Mayors has developed and provides.”
Globalization: Daley chaired the session on globalization included discussion on free trade agreements, the imperative of better education and training in schools and for skilled and unskilled workers to ensure global competitiveness, and financial resources available to mayors to help attract investment. Potential sources of financial resources for cities outside the United States include the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and other development banks, such as the International Finance Corporation and the InterAmerican Development Bank.
U.S. Mayors: In addition to Daley and Diaz, other U.S. mayors attending the Chicago Forum were Providence Mayor David Cicilline, Conference Past President Akron Mayor Donald L. Plusquellic, Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, Shelby County Mayor A.C. Wharton, and Superior (WI) Mayor Dave Ross. Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Arif Alikhan represented Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Conference of Mayors Executive Director Tom Cochran also attended.
Canadian and Central/South American Mayors: Forum participants also included Toronto Mayor David Miller; Rio de Janeiro Mayor Cesar Maia; Caracas-Chacao, Venezuela Mayor Leopoldo Lopez; Prince Rupert, Canada Mayor Herb Pond; St. John’s, Canada Mayor Andy Wells; Vancouver, Canada Mayor Samuel C. Sullivan; Thunder Bay, Canada Mayor Lynn Peterson; Ahuachapan, El Salvador Mayor Rafael Antonio Moran Orellana; Cusco, Peru Mayor Marina Sequeiros Montesinos; and others.
Diaz to Host Next Hemispheric Mayors Meeting in Miami, June 2008
In 2006, Diaz initiated the first Mayors Hemispheric Meeting in Miami to provide a platform for the exchange of innovative ideas and solutions to common urban issues.
At the Chicago Forum, Diaz extended an invitation to Western Hemispheric mayors to come to the 76th Annual Conference of Mayors in Miami in June 2008 for the third meeting of Mayors from the Western Hemisphere.
Cochran Looks Ahead to Hemispheric Meeting at 76th Annual Conference of Mayors in Miami, June 2008
Cochran said, “The Conference of Mayors salutes the efforts of Mayor Diaz and Mayor Daley to bring mayors together from across the Western Hemisphere to discuss their challenges and identify solutions.
“The Chicago Mayors Hemispheric Forum was highly significant because of the mayor-to-mayor relationships formed and for the lively information'sharing and offering of best practices.
“We look forward to developing an exciting Western Hemispheric Mayors meeting in conjunction with the Conference of Mayors 76th Annual Meeting in Miami. Next year’s meeting will build upon the strong foundation laid by Mayor Diaz and Mayor Daley and by all the mayors from across Canada, the United States, and Central and South America who have participated in the first two meetings.” Cochran said.
Mayors in the Forum were enthusiastic about meeting in Miami next year. They expressed confidence in their ability to continue building connections with each other and the importance of their role:
- Mayor Dionisio Herrera Duque of Santa Catarini, Mexico: “Mayors are the core of the solution to a myriad of urban problems.”
- Diaz: “Connections among mayors are very important. We learn from and support each other. And we can and do influence national leaders.”
- Mayor Fernando Damati Pimentel of Belo Horizonte, Brazil “Real power is local power,” he said. The rest is ritual!”