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Concordia Americas 2024: Migration, climate change top agenda for UM annual conference

People leave the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices, Wednesday, July 26, 2023, in Miramar, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee
Migration issues are at the top of the agenda for this week's Concordia Americas Summit, a premier two-day international forum discussing critical issues impacting Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States. It convened Monday at the University of Miami. (ABOVE) People leave the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices, Wednesday, July 26, 2023, in Miramar, Fla.

The Concordia Americas Summit, a premier two-day international forum discussing critical issues impacting Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States, convened on Monday for its third year at the University of Miami in Lakeside Village.

Entering its eighth year, Concordia Americas brings together a diverse array of decision-makers, thought leaders, and politicians to create dialogue on topics ranging from climate change, immigration and the state of democracy across the region.

“As a premier gathering for thought leaders on crucial challenges and opportunities facing the Western Hemisphere, I am pleased to welcome the Concordia Americas Summit back to Miami and our university,” President Julio Frenk said in a statement to UM Communications.

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“The summit provides a unique opportunity to foster necessary conversations, collaboration, and partnerships among the private, public, and nonprofit sectors related to a variety of topics, including the state of our democracies, environmental sustainability, health care challenges, and emerging technologies.”

The summit has been hosted at UM with the support of trustee emeritus Jose Bared and the Bared Family Foundation, making the university the center of the Americas Summit until 2025.

Panels on the agenda for this year’s conference include “The Role of Migration in Building Inclusive and Prosperous Societies,” “Next Chapter: US-Latin America Relations in a Biden or Trump Administration,” “Leading the Way to Sustainability in Latin America & the Caribbean,” and more.

These issues are of primary importance at the event given the significant increase in Latin American immigration to the US in recent years, as well as the growing impact of climate change in cities like Miami and other coastal Latin American areas.

The 2024 lineup features many more prominent politicians compared to the previous two years at UM, including Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and more.

Miami-Dade  Mayor Daniella Levine Cava
Courtesy of Miami-Dade Mayor's Office
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida
U.S. Senate
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida

Several international politicians and representatives will also be in attendance, including former President of Colombia Iván Duque and former President of Bolivia Jorge Quiroga, among other distinguished representatives.

One particularly interesting guest who will be in attendance is also former President of Ecuador Jamil Mahuad, especially given the recent political unrest in the country that has led nations such as Mexico and Nicaragua to cut diplomatic ties with the government.

Students planning to attend the summit are ready for the opportunity to hear from national and international leaders on the issues they care most about, saying they hope the dialogue at the event enriches their understanding of partnerships between the US and Latin American countries.

“Given all the work we do on campus in the realm of civic engagement, namely the study of bipartisanship, I'm truly so excited to have the opportunity to interact with individuals whose lives have the potential to make a true positive impact within not just America, but Latin America,” said Emily Danzinger, a junior at UM who plans on attending this year’s conference.

“These individuals are the trailblazers responsible for bettering millions of lives, and it's an absolute honor to be able to cross paths with them.”

In addition to the main stage discussions, the summit will host roundtable sessions featuring faculty and campus leaders from various disciplines, including sociology professor Alejandro Portes and Director of the Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas Felicia Knaul.

The conference also offers several networking opportunities, and some students have been invited to participate in guest lectures and meetings, as well as a networking lunch with Concordia Leadership Council members, UM Fulbright Scholars and alumni.

“The University of Miami is uniquely situated at the gateway between the United States and Latin America, and it’s terrific for our school to host this gathering of our hemisphere’s leaders,” said Randy Fitzgerald, a graduate student who is one of the few invited to the selective networking opportunities.

“I look forward to hearing from our prestigious speakers about strategies to advance economic development, enhance climate resiliency, and bolster the rule of law.”

Ultimately, as the Concordia Americas Summit returns to the UM, collaboration and innovation will be back at the forefront of US and Latin American policymakers, with organizers hoping it creates genuine pathways for progress between the two regional neighbors.

“The Americas Summit provides a forum for the university and the South Florida community to deepen their ties to the region,” said Bared. “These conversations are a means to an end—a strategic investment in our future and the role of the University in devising solutions to pressing regional and global challenges.”

The story was originally published by The Miami Hurricane, the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, as part of an editorial content partnership with the WLRN newsroom.

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