Sister Cities International held their 55th Annual Conference in the Washington area, March 2-5 2011. The goal of this Annual Conference was to "provide an educational and interactive environment for networking, sharing best practices, engaging elected officials, having robust roundtable discussions, and gaining knowledge about the latest trends in diplomacy." I was honored to host an afternoon of meetings and a Ben Franklin Room reception here at the Department of State for this exceptional group promoting global diplomacy with outstanding leadership by Chairman of the Board Mayor Brad Cole of Carbondale, Illinois and President and CEO Patrick Madden.
I, along with Deputy Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs Maura Pally, welcomed nearly 300 guests from over 20 states all across the United States and over 14 other countries. Represented countries included Canada, China, Georgia, Ghana, Haiti, Pakistan, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Qatar, Russia, and South Africa. The Haiti delegation shared their story of receiving help from many sister cities in the time of their need following the earthquake.
Following the welcome, some of the participants enthusiastically attended a briefing covering the Department's work in the Western Hemisphere Affairs presented by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli. Other participants attended a presentation on public diplomacy from the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. A third group of participants attended presentations related to economic policies related to broader African Affairs and a fourth group focused on Southern African Affairs.
In the late afternoon sessions, Global Climate Change, Energy and Ecopartnerships were discussed by a representative from the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs and a Jefferson Science Fellow. Representatives from the East Asia and Pacific Bureau and from the Western Hemisphere Bureau discussed regional issues of local interest related to investment, economy, jobs, travel, border security and the environment in two regionally focused sessions.
Specific accomplishments included conversations for sharing of best practices and promoting performance by peer-to-peer competition and cooperation in sustainable renewable energy development, planned urbanization for managing transportation costs, sharing of emergency response information and resources for enhanced utilization factors and global community benefits. The four-day program of the 55th Annual Sister Cities International Conference included this special opportunity to engage at the Department of State.
This week, we are continuing to organize follow up conversations for the interested representatives of the state and local government elected leaders and their Sister Cities International Conference representatives.