Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield During a Press Availability at the “Cities Summit of the Americas”

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Denver, Colorado
April 27, 2023


AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Good afternoon, everyone. I am really delighted to be here at the Cities Summit. I’ve had a really extraordinarily productive day of engagement with mayors from across the United States as well as from countries in Latin America. This morning I did a session with the mayor from Bogotá where we talked about the SDGs and how cities can be more actively engaged in implementation of the SDG goals. And then I had an opportunity to meet with three mayors from Latin America – I think it was Belize, mayor from Belize, Trinidad, and Brazil, and then the mayor of Phoenix and Los Angeles, the deputy mayor – to talk about how cities are engaging on issues related to the SDGs.

And what was particularly important, and I shared that in my panel today, is when the United States pulled out of the Paris Agreement, cities actually stayed committed. Cities stayed engaged. Los Angeles was a great example of a city that moved forward on their SDG goals, but also remained committed to the climate commitments as well.

So I’ll be happy to take your questions.

QUESTION: Why it’s so important this kind of commitment from all of the countries in the region?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We talk about these goals from a global perspective. We talk about these goals in New York from the multilateral perspective. But ultimately, it is cities, it is mayors who are – who touch the lives of people. It is mayors who will deal with issues of addressing poverty, deal with issues of addressing climate change at the local level. They actually have the jobs of implementation of the SDG goals. And so to hear from these mayors that they’re committed and that they’re committed at a time where we’re really behind in implementation of the goals – only 50 percent of the goals are even partially being addressed; 30 percent are not even being addressed at all; only 13 have addressed them completely.

So we have to ramp up our efforts. We have to beef up our efforts. We have to take more bold actions and addressing those actions at the city level, and having all of these city mayors and local leaders here committed to doing this I think sends a very strong message to the world.

QUESTION: I want to ask you about your trip to Brazil. Why this trip? And are you worried about the relation of President Lula with China, his relation with China, with Russia?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, I’m going to Brazil, leaving next week. Brazil is a member of the Security Council, and they do play a critical role on the multilateral stage. So I am going to Brazil to engage with Brazilian leaders about issues of mutual concern. And as we say anywhere in the world where we’re asked about China, we don’t tell countries who to be friends with.

What we want to talk to countries about is the partnership that we have with those countries, how we can work with those countries to address mutual issues of concern. And one of those issues that we’re addressing on a regular basis at the Security Council is the issue related to Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine, where Russia has been condemned by 141 countries in the United Nations and their actions are having an impact on, for example, as I talked to one of the mayors from Brazil today, the price of food is extraordinarily high. We’re seeing that impact across the globe.

MODERATOR: Sorry, just one. Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: Can you explain just a little bit the impact on immigration and climate change?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, we are seeing people, and I would say particularly in the Global South and particularly I’ve seen it in Africa, where people are being forced to leave because of the impact of climate change. And we’re seeing a relationship between climate and conflict in many countries. If you look at the impact in the Sahel, for example, where you’re seeing farmers who are having their farms encroached on by herders who are moving further and further south because they can’t address their needs to graze their cattle. So climate is impacting decisions to migrate, and so we absolutely have to work to address those issues in tandem.

MODERATOR: And we have time for one last question here.

QUESTION: Yes, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, we met last year at the Summit of the Americas.


QUESTION: I just had a question: Of everything that you heard at this Cities Summit, what is your major takeaway to – that you’re taking back to the United Nations?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, I have been very impressed by how committed these city mayors are to the SDGs. And we have to listen to them. We have to bring their voices to the United Nations. The mayor of Bogotá said for the first time – and she’s so impressive – said for the first time, city mayors got to speak two years ago at the United Nations. And I was asked what more can they do? And what they can do is ramp up their own advocacy with their national governments, because this is not just a national government issue; it is a local issue and mayors play a key role in ensuring that the SDGs are implemented at the local level.

QUESTION: Wonderful. Thank you.