The 2018 Concordia Americas Summit, hosted on July 16-17 in Bogotá, Colombia, provided the first major international convening following the country’s presidential elections. Welcoming over 1,000 leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, the Americas Summit provided critical, action-oriented insight into a diverse array of opportunities—and challenges—facing both Colombia and Latin America as a whole.
The 2018 Americas Summit Report features spotlights with our keynote speakers—President Santos, President-elect Duque, Vice President-elect Ramírez (now Former President, President, and Vice President, respectively), Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden, and Administrator of USAID Mark Green. It also features a summary of the interview between Concordia Leadership Council Member Gen. (Ret.) David H. Petraeus and Former President Santos during one of his final appearances as President of the Republic of Colombia, as well as summaries of the main themes explored throughout the Summit and key next steps.
The unique captivation of Latin America, with its vibrant dynamics but challenging issues, has resonated with the vision of Concordia since its founding in 2011. The region’s critical position on the global stage, and the interconnected nature of its challenges with the success of the Western Hemisphere, aligns with Concordia’s ethos to create an inclusive, collaborative global community. Latin America has remained a focal point for Concordia since 2011, with the evolution of the organization’s on-the-ground work in Colombia resulting in the establishment of the Concordia Americas Initiative.
Concordia’s initial connection with Latin America began in 2011, when Co-Founders Matthew Swift and Nicholas Logothetis first met Álvaro Uribe Vélez, President of the Republic of Colombia from 2002 until 2010. Iván Duque Márquez, appointed President of the Republic of Colombia in 2018, was working at the Inter-American Development Bank at the time, and advised Matt and Nick to approach Uribe, who was Vice Chairman of the UN investigative committee for the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid. Later that year, President Uribe visited New York City during UNGA week and featured in an interview with MSNBC about the inaugural Concordia Summit (watch here).
In 2012, Concordia was honored to welcome President Uribe to New York City to participate in the 2012 Concordia Annual Summit, where he was interviewed by Matt and Nick and then delivered closing remarks, following a keynote address from President Clinton. That same year, Uribe joined Concordia’s Leadership Council, a powerful roster of former heads of state, leaders of industry, and policy experts with practical experience at every level of government and business.
At the 2015 Annual Summit, Concordia hosted a panel with Andrés Pastrana Arango, Former President of the Republic of Colombia, Jorge Quiroga Ramírez, Former President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, and Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, Former President of the United Mexican States. The panel, which provided a fascinating insight into how Latin American governments can work with the private sector to overcome political and economic challenges, ended with a standing ovation from the audience in New York City. To read the 2015 Concordia Annual Summit Report, click here.
In May 2016, Concordia hosted its first-ever Summit outside of New York at Miami Dade College in Miami, Florida. Inspired by Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón, Concordia Leadership Council Member and President of Miami Dade College, the 2016 Concordia Americas Summit marked the official launch of the Concordia Americas Initiative. The high-level gathering of over 200 public and private sector leaders addressed the priorities of the region, including democracy, energy, trade, regional security, and corruption through a unique and interactive strategic dialogue format—now one of the drivers behind Concordia’s action-oriented programming. The Summit was chaired by José María Aznar, former President of the Government of Spain and Concordia Leadership Council Member, who inspired a focus on the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, with programming featuring Venezuelan Human Rights Activist Lilian Tintori. The Summit also marked the first meeting of Tintori and Luis Almagro Lemes, Secretary General of the Organization of American States. The 2016 Concordia Americas Summit Report can be found here.
A driving force behind the introduction of the Americas Initiative was María Paula Correa, Concordia’s Former Senior Director of Strategic Engagement. María Paula was instrumental in building Concordia’s Americas presence through the organization’s convenings in New York and Miami, and by leveraging the expertise of Leadership Council Members.
Concordia prioritized collaboration across the Western Hemisphere as a focal point of its 2017 programming and beyond, with the 2017 Concordia Americas Summit in Bogotá, Colombia serving as the organization’s first-ever international convening. Sponsored fully by Colombian companies, the Concordia Americas Summit brought together the past three presidents—then President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, as well as former Presidents Álvaro Uribe Vélez and Andrés Pastrana Arango. Welcoming three heads of state representing varying viewpoints on often polarizing issues marked a defining moment in the country’s history. The Summit was co-chaired by Amb. Juan Carlos Pinzón, Ambassador of Colombia to the United States, and Alfonso Gómez Palacio, President of Telefónica Colombia. It also saw the beginning of a partnership with the Instituto de Ciencia Política Hernán Echavarría Olózaga (ICP), a leading Colombian political think tank. To read the 2017 Americas Report, click here
Following the Summit, Concordia partnered with Conservación Internacional for its inaugural Day of Engagement. Concordia Members had the opportunity to see firsthand how art, culture, and the environment are interwoven into the Colombian peace process, connecting real partnerships to the Summit conversations from a day earlier. Participants also learnt about partnerships to improve market access for small shareholder farmers, walked along the Las Delicias ravine, and enjoyed a presentation on coffee sustainability by Koffie Tapp.
In November 2017, Concordia received a special honor from the Congress of Colombia. Bestowed by Congressman Federico Hoyos of the Colombian House of Representatives, the award recognizes the great degree of commitment and dedication of Concordia to furthering democratic initiatives on the ground in Colombia.
When thinking about Concordia’s return to Colombia in 2018, the need to host a meaningful and relevant convening during an election year was of central importance. At the beginning of the year, Concordia led a series of roundtable discussions examining the issues to be faced by the incoming government. These discussions laid the foundations for Concordia to host the official RCN/NTN24 Presidential Debate (watch here) in April. The debate, which featured the leading six presidential candidates of Colombia’s 2018 elections, was followed by a panel of nationally- and internationally-recognized experts to react to the answers given.
The 2018 Concordia Americas Summit, which took place in July in Bogotá, provided the first major international convening following the country’s presidential elections. In partnership with ICP, Fenalco, Noticias RCN, and NTN24, the Summit convened international thought leaders, politicians, business executives, and non-governmental representatives, to foster constructive dialogue and drive lasting, collaborative solutions to the challenges facing Colombia and Latin America as a whole. The Summit featured President Santos, President-elect Duque, Vice President-elect Ramírez (now President and Vice President, respectively), and former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden, among many Colombian private sector leaders. On the Concordia stage, President Duque announced the appointment of Dr. Guillermo Botero, previously President of Fenalco, as his Minister of Defense.
Following the 2018 Concordia Americas Summit, Concordia partnered with Fundación Biblioseo for an inspiring, insightful, and interactive Day of Engagement. Located in the outskirts of Bogota, in Ciudad Bolivar, Biblioseo’s mission is to educate youth aged 8-19 as social leaders and entrepreneurs so that they are stimulated to devise creative solutions to the challenges facing their environments. Throughout the day, attendees heard from the inspiring young entrepreneurs about their projects, skills, and aspirations, and shared experiences and knowledge in order to help take their projects to the next level.