Cities Forward Program is dedicated to assisting cities in creating a sustainable future
The City of Austin and Mayor Kirk Watson are proud to announce that Austin has been selected as one of 24 cities from across the United States to participate in the Cities Forward program, a collaborative initiative between the U.S. Department of State, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, Resilient Cities Catalyst, and the Institute of the Americas.
Launched in April 2023 at the Cities Summit of the Americas, the Cities Forward Program is dedicated to assisting cities in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States create sustainable, inclusive and resilient futures through peer-to-peer project consultation, knowledge sharing, capacity building, and diplomatic engagement.
The City of Austin’s Resilience Office will coordinate the project, leveraging the City’s partnership with Travis County, and has the full support of the Mayor, City Council members, and the City Manager’s Office.
As one of the cities selected for the Cities Forward Program, Austin was paired with Mérida, México.
“We look forward to working closely with Mérida while continuing to engage with all municipalities who are passionate about building a more equitable and sustainable future,” Laura Patiño, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Austin, said. “Working with Mérida to pool resources, share international best practices and knowledge, and align strategies will help both cities create a more resilient future and allow our communities to thrive.”
District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool, a member of the ICLEI, championed the City of Austin’s bid for becoming a partnership city and is a sponsor of the City’s resilience building efforts.
“As an active member, I was excited to spearhead our application for the Cities Forward initiative,” Pool said. "Austin has been at the forefront of sustainable policy and we look forward to the exchange of ideas with Merida, Mexico, our new partner.”
Through Cities Forward, participating cities in Latin America and the Caribbean will develop local action plans for resilience and sustainability, reflecting their residents’ highest priorities, particularly from underserved communities. Cities Forward will help build partnerships with local leaders and experts in the United States as global and local challenges become more complex. In addition, the initiative will facilitate opportunities for cities to seek investments and financing to help implement their plans, including Austin’s upcoming resilience strategy, Climate Equity Plan, and more.
“I’m proud the City of Austin is joining other cities across the globe to collaborate on building stronger and more equitable economic foundations and promoting a healthy environment for everyone,” said Watson, who signed a letter of support for Austin to be chosen for the Cities Forward Program. “This program will help both Austin and Mérida create local solutions to challenges we all face, strengthen sustainability and build community resilience.”
The program received 129 applications for just 24 openings from cities across the Americas. The following municipalities were selected and paired for the program:
- Montego Bay, Jamaica + Hoboken, New Jersey
- Ambato, Ecuador + Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Cali, Colombia + Baltimore, Maryland
- Cartagena, Colombia + Denver, Colorado
- Fortaleza, Brazil + Hawaii County, Hawaii
- Freeport, Bahamas + Coral Springs, Florida
- Guatemala City, Guatemala + Dallas, Texas
- Hermosillo, México + Dubuque, Iowa
- Manaus, Brazil + Stockton, California
- Mérida, México + Austin, Texas
- Renca, Chile + Evanston, Illinois
- Rosario, Argentina + Chattanooga, Tennessee
For more information, visit https://icleiusa.org/cities-forward.
About ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability
ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) is the first and largest global network of more than 2,500 local and regional governments devoted to solving the world's most intractable sustainability challenges. The worldwide network is active in 125+ countries, focused on influencing sustainability policies and driving local action across five key pathways: low emissions, resilient, equitable, people-centered, nature-based, and circular development.
About Resilient Cities Catalyst
Resilient Cities Catalyst is a nonprofit, founded by members of the 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) leadership team in 2019 to drive catalytic change to help partners solve their most pressing challenges. Building on the pioneering legacy of 100RC, and in partnership with a community of urban resilience actors, RCC is helping cities build the capacities and partnerships needed to understand, prioritize and concretely address their risks and chronic stresses as they pursue their strategic goals or recover from a crisis.
About Institute of the Americas
The Institute of the Americas (IOA) is a non-partisan, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to be a catalyst for promoting economic development and integration, emphasizing the role of the private sector, as a means to improve the economic and social well-being of the people of the Americas. Throughout our 40-year history, the IOA has convened events of regional importance in an effort to support our mission of promoting better understanding and thought-leadership, surrounding critical issues in energy, climate change and economic development.