Ambassador Remarks at the Launch of the Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth Network

Remarks delivered by Ambassador Daniel Yohannes at the Ford Foundation in New York City, on March 29, 2016. 

Thank you, Gabriela. I am thrilled to be here today.

It is inspiring to see people from all around the world come together to discuss an issue so important to so many.

President Obama has called income inequality “the defining challenge of our time.”  And we in the Administration are engaged on a number of fronts to address this challenge.  The U.S. Department of State named promoting inclusive economic growth as one of its four strategic priorities for the next four years.  That means, we view combating inequality as every bit as urgent as addressing climate change, countering violent extremism, and promoting democratic societies.

As the U.S. Ambassador to the OECD, I am proud to chair the Group of Friends of Inclusive Growth.  It is a group comprised of me and my fellow Ambassadors committed to supporting the OECD’s Inclusive Growth Initiative.  My vision for the Group is to bring together people like you, on the forefront of this effort, to share your experiences and best practices.

However, I think it is so essential to have local partners engage on this issue that the Department of State has supported mayors from around the world – from Peru to Ghana to Mexico – to attend this event and share their experiences.

I can think of no better people to lead this effort than Mayors.  You work every day to make life better for the citizens you represent.  You are our first responders on inequality. Combatting it will take all of us, at every level of government and outside it, working together: cities, national governments, international organizations, businesses, and civil society.  For this Initiative to be successful, we must engage and empower all of these partners to come to the table.  I look forward to working with all of you to produce real solutions to this defining challenge.

I now have the distinct honor of introducing our keynote speaker, United States Deputy Secretary for Housing and Urban Development, Nani Coloretti.
While the State Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have different missions, we are always great partners, as we collaborate to bridge the gap between the domesticand the international.

Nani is leading the charge, along with Secretary Castro, as they support our nation’s housing recovery and improve the way we help communities across the U.S.  Before serving in the Obama Administration, she was in the San Francisco Mayor’s office. So I know her remarks will provide an excellent point of discussion for us here today.  Deputy Secretary, thank you for joining us and welcome.