President Obama engaged his counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean on supporting democracy, economic growth and sustainable energy at the seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama.
- This was the first Summit of the Americas to include a formal role for civil society groups, and the president said there was widespread agreement that civil society should have a permanent role in future summits. “Civil society is the conscience of our countries. It’s the catalyst of change. It’s why strong nations don’t fear active citizens. Strong nations embrace and support and empower active citizens,” Obama said April 10.
- The summit focused on expanding access to education. Before arriving in Panama, the president announced nearly $70 million in U.S. support for education, training and employment programs for young people in the region, including those in impoverished and marginalized communities. He also announced the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative to help young entrepreneurs and civil society leaders access training, resources and connections to start new ventures.
- Obama announced a new fund to help mobilize private-sector investment in clean energy projects and reduce carbon emissions, pledging $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund that helps developing nations deal with the impact of climate change. In addition, the U.S. and several other countries committed to doubling their collective share of non-hydro renewable energy by 2030.
- Obama said he was encouraged by the support many summit leaders expressed for boosting regional trade through the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Obama cited the April 10 deal between Boeing Company and Panama’s Copa Airlines as being “representative of the commercial opportunities that allow … North and South America as well as Central America to prosper if we deepen those trade ties.”
“The United States is more deeply engaged across the region than we have been in decades, and I believe the relationship between the United States and the Americas is as good as it has ever been,” Obama told reporters April 11 after the summit concluded.