Climate Migration Press Release

Climate Migration Council Leaders Discuss Importance of Collaboration at Upcoming Cities Summit of the Americas


April 24, 2023


Watch Recording HERE.


DENVER  – Experts from the Climate Migration Council hosted a press call on Monday, April 24th to discuss how the inaugural Cities Summit of the Americas, occuring in Denver from April 26-28, is a crucial opportunity for leaders within the hemisphere to highlight the issue of climate-driven migration. Local leaders like mayors gathering at the Summit are at the forefront of mitigating the effects of climate change and welcoming those displaced by their devastating impact. 

The Climate Migration Council recognizes that climate change is more than just a threat – it is upending the lives of millions of people today. As climate change radically shifts how and where we live, migration as adaptation may be one solution to a changing world.

“The climate catastrophe is predicted to uproot millions of people in the coming decades, and cities are on the frontlines of climate migration as people move from rural to urban areas to seek safety from climate threats such as drought, extreme weather, rising coastlines, and the instability that accompanies them,” said Shana Tabak, Director of Immigration Strategy, Emerson Collective (moderator). “The inaugural Cities Summit of the Americas marks an opportunity to engage with diverse leaders committed to collective action on climate migration, and to elevate the need for creative, strategic, and urgent conversations that catalyze the global community to build solutions that center affected communities as they adapt to a world reshaped by climate change.”

“I spent 28 years of a diplomatic career watching Latin Americans “vote with their feet,” as they responded to the traditional push factors of poverty and insecurity motivated historic migration patterns,” said John Feeley, United States Ambassador to the Republic of Panama (Retired) and Executive Director for Center for Media Integrity of the Americas. “Today, climate change and its effects, such as droughts, increased storms, desertification, ecological devastation, crop failures, and coastal flooding, have created exponential increases in those leaving their homes just to survive.  What we are witnessing today requires coordinated, joint adaptive action among countries, implemented at the lowest levels of governmental service delivery – our towns, villages and cities.”

“Far too often we in the United States focus only on our southern border when the reality is that the unprecedented displacement of people is an issue that impacts countries across the Americas – a truly hemispheric challenge that is best addressed in collaboration with regional partners. Migrants from a diverse set of countries, including Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, Venezuela and the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are fleeing a mix of acute humanitarian crises driven by climate change, poverty, political repression, violence, and state fragility,” said Rebecca Bill Chavez, President of Inter-American Dialogue and Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Western Hemisphere. “Given that polarization and gridlock have increasingly rendered national governments unable to take meaningful action, the innovative approaches generated at the local level are more critical than ever. Cities such as Upala, Costa Rica and Bogotá, Colombia have developed integrated strategies that anticipate and safely accommodate the influx of Nicaraguans (over 10 percent of Upala’s populations) and Venezuelans (over 500,000 “nuevos bogotanos”) respectively. This week’s Cities Summit will provide opportunities for cities and towns from Canada to Argentina to share best practices on these and other issues that are critical to the hemisphere’s collective future, including climate change mitigation and adaptation, women’s economic empowerment, health, education, and digital inclusion.”   

“Just 3-5% of adaptation finance reaches cities and just 2% of humanitarian funding reaches local actors,” said Vittoria Zanuso, Executive Director of the Mayors Migration Council. “We cannot hope to address climate migration if we don’t fix this municipal finance gap. As the Biden Administration looks for regional migration solutions this week at the Cities Summit of the Americas, our call is clear: consult cities, partner with cities, and invest in cities.”

The Climate Migration Council will be in Denver at the convening. If you’re interested in getting in touch with a Climate Migration Council member, please reach out to




Subscribe to our newsletter to receive our latest news and updates.