This week we sat down with our Director of Programming, Anna Freeman, to gain a deeper insight into the key themes for the upcoming 2023 Americas Summit, taking place March 9-10 at the University of Miami, as well as some reflections on the journey so far in the Western Hemisphere.
Which programming themes are you most excited about exploring at this year’s Americas Summit?
I’m always interested in the conversations on cultural diplomacy and youth advocacy, because we get to hear from world-renowned athletes, musicians, and celebrities about the issues most important to them and all the amazing work they do to better their communities. For example, last year José R. Mas, who is one of the co-owners of Inter Miami Football Club, led a session with University of Miami student athletes on the potential of sports to inspire and empower youth and it was one of my favorite sessions, so I’m excited to see what we come up with this year!
The University of Miami is the official host of the 2023, 2024, and 2025 Concordia Americas Summits. How does Concordia’s partnership with this leading educational institution bring an inclusive dynamic to the Summit platform, particularly as it pertains to student involvement?
This is our second time hosting the Americas Summit at the University of Miami, and we are thrilled to continue to hold the Summit here through 2025. We love working with the University for many reasons. Firstly, the location of Miami sits perfectly as a gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean, making it a convenient spot for attendees from the region. Secondly, Miami is known for its cultural diversity, with a large Hispanic community providing a perfect environment for discussions pertaining to Latin American issues. And of course, not to mention the world-class faculty, staff, and alumni network available, bringing unique and expert perspectives to a wide range of issues that we’ll be exploring.
We offer many opportunities for the university students to participate, from a networking breakfast with members of the Concordia community, to guest lectures delivered by our Leadership Council and even opportunities to participate in roundtable discussions. Involving the students in as many ways as we can is key to making sure young voices are heard.
The role of innovative technology continues to be framed as both a positive and a negative influence on democratic institutions. Speaking to a concern, the prevalence of mis- and disinformation will, this year, become an emphasis of Concordia’s. How can cross-sector partnerships provide solutions in this area?
Misinformation will be an ongoing theme throughout programming at the Americas Summit and will continue at other regional summits and, of course, our Annual Summit. What we have found is that while new technologies, such as AI and machine learning, can be used to help detect and remove misinformation from online platforms, these technologies can also be used to create and disseminate false information at a larger scale and at faster pace. Additionally, new technologies can make it more difficult to trace the origin of misinformation and hold those responsible accountable. By bringing together the expertise, resources, and perspectives of different stakeholders, cross-sector partnerships can better develop and implement effective strategies to combat the spread of false information.
Which speakers are you particularly excited about hearing from at this year’s Americas Summit?
I am most excited about hosting some Heads of State, including the President of Guatemala, Alejandro Eduardo Giammattei, and the President of Suriname, Chan Santokhi. We have never hosted the presidents from these countries, and I love bringing new countries into the conversation, as we get to hear from some of the highest and most influential voices in the region.
The Americas Initiative is Concordia’s longest-standing regional initiative. What is the key benefit of hosting a summit with specific emphasis on an individual region?
Concordia’s regional summits are a great way to prompt more in-depth conversations about region-specific issues. Furthering many of the outcomes and themes from the 2022 Americas Summit, the 2023 Americas Summit will cultivate discourse and debate on the most pressing issues facing the Western Hemisphere today, including economic inequality, the refugee crisis, and environmental issues. Hosting a summit with a regional focus can also help to promote greater collaboration and networking among stakeholders within that region, which can lead to more sustainable and impactful partnerships moving forward.
Environmental Sustainability remains a key theme heading into this year’s Americas Summit. Against the backdrop of contentious climate negotiations at both COP26 and COP27, what are the key takeaways from these events that gives you optimism heading in?
35 years ago, scientists discovered that the ozone layer was thinning dangerously, which prompted 198 countries to sign the Montreal Protocol to ban the use of substances that damaged the ozone. Now, 35 years later, research shows that the ozone layer is steadily recovering and on track for full recovery by 2040. It is because of the collective action in 1987 that this was able to happen! And today, more than ever, convening to share solutions to sustainability challenges worldwide should be one of our highest priorities. Environmental sustainability is going to be a prominent theme in March. We are looking forward to starting conversations at this Summit that will continue at future summits, in particular at the Amazonas Summit in Ecuador this July, where Concordia will celebrate the Amazon rainforest and bring together leaders to discuss ways to protect its ecosystem.
Register to attend the 2023 Americas Summit on March 9-10 at the University of Miami in Miami, FL.