North American Forum | History

The first round of annual meetings of the NAF took place from 2005-2007 in Sonoma, California; Banff, Alberta, Canada, and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico respectively. Since then then NAF has been hosted in Washington, DC, Ottawa, San Miguel de Allende, Toronto, and Playa del Carmen. In 2017 NAF will, again, return to Washington, DC.

The annual meetings are meant to build community by:

  • Encouraging experts to envisage a regional approach to security, prosperity and improved quality of life.
  • Encouraging an approach to conceiving and addressing problems that crosses disciplinary, sectoral and national boundaries.
  • Identifying steps to be taken by private actors, including commercial actors as well as civil society leaders, to build resilience in the North American continent.
  • Prompting policymakers to think imaginatively about opportunities for future cooperation.
  • Exposing both private actors and governmental policy-makers to the rationale and the opportunities for cooperation.

While tri-national in scope and design, the agenda each year is shaped by the organizing country. The 2005 inaugural meeting in California set the goal—developing societal resilience in the face of strategic challenges, focusing on the close linkages among security, prosperity and quality of life. Each subsequent meeting has delved further into these issues.

Reflecting the strength of the NAF, the caliber of participants has risen each year. Changes in political leadership in Mexico, Canada and the United States are also mirrored in the delegations from each country. The diversity of participants and the increasing quality of the discussions ensures that the North American Forum will continue to tackle complex tri-national issues.

2005 — Sonoma, California, United States
A Resilient North America: Security Prosperity and Quality of Life in a Global Perspective. The inaugural meeting in California set the goal—developing societal resilience in the face of strategic challenges, focusing on the close linkages among security, prosperity and quality of life.

2006 — Banff, Alberta, Canada

Continental Prosperity in the New Security Environment. This meeting turned to a more extensive exploration of the relationships among security, prosperity and migration, and the goal of greater energy independence.

2007 — Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

North American Cooperation and Community. This meeting focused on demographic trends, migration and development, and regional approaches to addressing climate change.

2008 — Washington DC, United States

Toward a More Resilient North America. Having completed a full rotation of the forum among the three countries, the forum took stock of progress made among the three governments and in the private sector. Discussion focused on the ways in which a new US administration might approach such core issues as energy policy, climate change, trade, immigration, the demand side of the drug trade, the flows of arms, and the security challenges.

2009 — Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Beyond the Crisis: Forging a More Resilient North America. Building on progress to-date, the forum focused on the immediate responses to the global economic crisis, as well as two critical issues: energy and the environment on the one hand, and transnational crime, arms and drug trafficking on the other.

2010 — San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

North American Cooperation in a Challenging Security Environment. Discussion focused on the ways in which the countries of North America could immediately respond to the security challenges in fighting the ongoing “drug war” in Mexico, economies recovering from global economic crisis and energy security issues.

2011 — Washington DC, United States

Toward a More Resilient & Energy Independent North America. Discussion focused on the ways in which the countries of North America could focus on building energy independence and capitalize on the important innovations taking place across the energy sector both in terms of fossil fuel production and the development of renewable resources.

2012 — Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Participants focused on a key challenge—energy security in the context of renewed North American economic competitiveness.

2013 — Mexico City, Mexico

North American economic competitiveness was the focus, particularly the historic changes and great potential of Mexico's energy reform initiatives.

2014 – Washington, DC, United States

Delegates examined opportunities shared by the North American partners, including the extraordinary North American energy future, competitiveness, regional and global trade, and security matters.

2015  – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Emphasis on how to keep North American momentum going in a competitive world through  political, economic, and security perspectives.

2016  – Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
In 2016 the forum looked at North American priorities from both regional and world views.