The conference, hosted by Sister Cities of Houston and the Houston Mayor’s Office in collaboration with Sister Cities International, brought together over 700 elected and municipal officials, business leaders, and citizen diplomats – along with over 100 students from around the globe – to explore topics ranging from resiliency to citizen diplomacy.
“Houston is a thriving, diverse, and international city. It is enriched by its connection to its 18 sister cities, and by the volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain our positive ongoing relations,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said.
Sister Cities International is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. Its mission is to promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation by establishing and maintaining city-to-city relationships. It coordinates with over 2,000 partnerships in more than 140 countries.
“This year’s conference will be one of the most diverse and vibrant gatherings with citizen diplomats from all over the world coming together in Houston to share insights and discuss solutions to current global issues,” said Roger-Mark De Souza, president and CEO of Sister Cities International.
The conference’s theme, “Cities Mean Business,” focused on the growing role of cities in international economic development. SCI’s Annual Youth Leadership Summit operated in parallel, providing students with effective problem-solving strategies, leadership skills, and insights into international affairs. Other conference activities included an Africa Forum, a China-U.S. Sister Cities Mayors’ Summit and special sessions on Africa, China, Mexico, Japan, and Germany.
As a show of support for this landmark event, Mayor Turner hosted a Mayors’ Reception for his fellow mayors, their delegations, and representatives of Houston’s international community at the George R. Brown Convention Center on July 18. Heidi Powell-Prera of IF Magazine was on the scene.