October 7, 2015, Washington, DC: The German Marshall Fund hosted the opening reception for the Washington, D.C. leg of Our Cities, Our Climate: A Bloomberg Philanthropies – U.S. Department of State Partnership on the evening of Wednesday, October 7, kicking off the U.S. Department of State’s three-day initiative.
The opening reception brought together U.S. and international mayors and U.S. State and Commerce department officials to discuss subnational solutions to key global challenges, leveraging GMF’s more than three decades of experience promoting subnational international leadership. Among the impressive showing of attendees were Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit, Michigan; Mayor Michael Hancock of Denver, Colorado, who is a GMF Marshall Memorial Fellow from 2000; and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan.
Assistant Secretary Ryan called on participants to promote innovative thinking to better coordinate U.S. foreign policy with local leadership: “Share your ideas that work, learn from each other, and help solve climate change city by city.”
GMF’s president Karen Donfried reflected that subnational leaders are playing an increasingly important role in transatlantic and international relations. “More than ever before,” she shared, “mayors and governors, city and state legislators, and other local elected and appointed officials are engaging in the foreign policy discourse to implement forward looking policies that address national and global challenges.” Dr. Donfried announced that GMF is working closely with Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit to support his leadership of Detroit’s recovery through the opening of a Mayor’s Office of International Affairs that will help the city to reposition itself on the international stage.
Mayor Hancock reflected on how cities could build their capacity to strengthen international connections and explore transformative public-private partnerships. He also remarked on the impact that GMF’s Marshall Memorial Fellowship had on his vision and leadership journey, “if we want to be globally competitive, we need to engage in exchange programs like the Marshall Memorial Fellowship.”
The opening reception was followed by an exclusive screening of the global energy and sustainability documentary Catching the Sun. The film was produced with support from the Sundance Documentary Fund, the Ford Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation, and its award-winning director and eco-activist, Shalini Kantayya, answered questions from the audience following the film.
Our Cities, Our Climate brings together mayors and other high level officials from cities around the world to discuss shared agendas that will lead to meaningful policy exchange. The State Department/GMF collaboration demonstrated GMF’s commitment to supporting subnational leadership issues. GMF’s U.S. Leadership and Transatlantic Subnational Diplomacy Initiative (TSDI), led by Reta Jo Lewis, Senior Resident Fellow with the Transatlantic Leadership Initiatives team and former U.S. State Department Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs, aims to build the capacity of subnational leaders to contribute to transatlantic relations and strengthen global economic and democratic ties across the Atlantic. GMF’s Urban and Regional Policy department, led by Geraldine Gardner, supports urban leaders, policymakers, and practitioners in the United States and Europe in building inclusive, sustainable, and globally engaged cities.