Aspen Institute President and CEO delivered the below remarks at the opening plenary of Aspen Ideas: Climate in Miami Beach, Florida on May 9, 2022. Follow him on Twitter @DanPorterfield.
Thank you, Mayor Gelber, to you and your team led by the spectacular Michele Burger.
I bring greetings from our Board Chair, Jim Crown, and express great gratitude to:
Mayor Daniela Levine Cava of Miami-Dade County and Mayor Francis Suarez from the City of Miami;
The Aspen Institute teams led by Greg Gershuny, Kitty Boone, and Elliot Gerson;
Our visionary sponsors, specifically our Title Partners: the Knight Foundation, Related Group, and the Jorge M. Perez Family Foundation, as well as Stuart Miller and the Lennar Foundation, Amazon, and our Aspen Institute Trustee Antonio Gracias and Valor;
And, finally, all who are taking part. We all know that the climate crisis is real, sizable, and solvable. We also all know that we still have time—if we put our hearts, minds, and bodies in motion—to save lives, save places, save cultures, save species, save habitats, and save the future. We still have time.
The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit that works for a free, just, and equitable society. One way we do so is by assembling diverse and sincere people for smart, open, informed, and civil convenings that lead to learning and to progress.
Aspen Ideas: Climate reflects this approach. It is firmly fact-based and solutions-oriented—highlighting research, community wisdom, energy technologies, smart investment, and innovations across the board, from food to construction to shipping to transportation to coastal protection to indigenous community actions to public messaging, and more.
Climate issues are complex and multifaceted—and no one has a monopoly on truth. That is why we encourage everyone to attend sessions on topics that you may know absolutely nothing about—so that we can all come away with new ideas. And I, for one, have a lot to learn.
Aspen Ideas: Climate is a part of the Aspen Institute’s larger commitment to the greater Miami community. We’re also helping to create ecosystems of support for Latino-led small businesses. We’re investing in local high school students, some of whom are taking part in this summit. We’re launching a major leadership program for first-generation college students. We’re working with anchor institutions like Miami Dade College, which won the 2018 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, and the University of Miami, which is active in our American Talent Initiative.
And, we are proudly hosting Aspen Ideas: Climate for at least the next two years. What an honor. This region is a multi-cultural mecca and a beacon of innovation, an opportunity crossroads. We love it here. Thank you for welcoming us.
As we open this convening, and expand our partnerships, I would like to express a particular commitment of the Aspen Institute given recent events here and elsewhere that have sparked concern among LGBTQ communities, families, and allies.
That commitment is to human dignity, which all humans have equally and in support of which we were founded more than seven decades ago.
As a result, in our work here and everywhere, all children and youth, all families, and all colleagues will be treated equitably and affirmatively. We stand with the LGBTQ community—and we are very pleased that members of the community are taking part in this summit.
Moreover, in this spirit of inclusion, and love, I encourage all here today to speak freely and bring your full selves to the breakout discussions and informal conversations. That’s what Aspen Institute convenings are all about. Everyone is wanted, everyone is valued, and everyone has something beautiful to contribute.
Thank you again for being here. Now I’ll turn it back to Mayor Gelber to introduce our opening session.