A summit for all citizens of the Americas – Eye Witness News


NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Tanya McFall-Major, a graduate of the University of the Bahamas and alumnus of the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI), has started a foreign language training institute in Nassau. Its goal: to give Bahamians the opportunity to speak another language and compete successfully in the global market. McFall-Major is one of a dozen Bahamian entrepreneurs who have participated in the YLAI program and used their creativity to move society forward.

Together we want to create more stories like his. Too few aspiring changemakers and entrepreneurs in the Americas can achieve their dreams because inequitable public institutions, corruption, insecurity, poor health care, the effects of climate change, and limited access to finance stifle their ideas before they can take off.

President Biden will welcome leaders from the Western Hemisphere to Los Angeles June 8-10 for the ninth Summit of the Americas, with a simple but ambitious goal: to help the entire hemisphere – including the United States – realize its potential as a region where democracy benefits everyone, and people can achieve their aspirations no matter where they live.

Democracy and markets have brought extraordinary gains to the Americas over the past 40 years, but many people still face challenges and tragedies: the Bahamian family who lost loved ones and livelihoods to a tropical storm; the mother mourning her son, who was killed by gangs in El Salvador; the Haitian family fleeing anarchy and poverty; the farmer in Paraguay who lost his crop due to drought; Oklahoma parents who lost their son to illicit fentanyl. We can and must do better for all the peoples of the Americas.

The Summit, while being a meeting of governments, focuses on the foundation of all our societies: our people. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 2.7 million people in our hemisphere and inflicted massive economic damage – job losses, declining incomes and increasing poverty. The economic crisis has exacerbated the region’s historic inequalities, as its ripple effects have hit marginalized communities the hardest. Job losses have been particularly high for women, young workers, the less educated and those working in the informal sector. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has driven up the price of essential goods across the Americas, from fertilizer to wheat to oil. Our shared prosperity depends on economic recovery and advancing middle class growth in the United States and all countries in the region. We remain inextricably linked to the peoples and economies of the Americas. What is happening in the region affects us all at home.

We have many tasks to accomplish. Through the Summit, we must commit to a green and equitable economic recovery, the resilience of our health systems and revitalized democracies. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed gaps in our public health systems that we must work together to close. We must strengthen transparent and accountable governance, promote and protect human rights, the rule of law, social inclusion, and gender, racial and ethnic equity. We can generate inclusive prosperity by creating a digital economy, but this requires our commitment to providing secure and reliable telecommunications networks and universal broadband Internet access. Harnessing the hemisphere’s enormous clean energy potential can spur economic development and alleviate the climate crisis, but it also requires that we invest in energy-efficient technologies to achieve net-zero emissions; wind, solar, bioenergy and hydropower; and international efforts to scale up renewable energy. We must also commit to reducing deforestation, ecosystem destruction and plastic pollution in our oceans. Many countries in the hemisphere are already experiencing severe impacts from the climate crisis. We must commit to implementing national adaptation plans, building resilience across all sectors, establishing monitoring and evaluation systems, sharing information and training the next generation of decision makers.

Progress on these fronts will restore citizens’ confidence in what democracy can do for the people. But these tangible improvements are not enough. We must also focus on the core responsibilities of government: providing security, healthcare, education, infrastructure and the rule of law. We will achieve this by investing in our people through education; building and strengthening more inclusive institutions; protect and strengthen the essential role played by independent civil society and honor the inherent human dignity of every individual.

The future of our hemisphere remains bright. The Biden-Harris administration will seize the opportunities of the Ninth Summit of the Americas to help ensure that all Americans from across the hemisphere participate.


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