Published on People Move

Local leaders cooperating internationally on migration

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The centrality of cities and regional governments in crafting solutions to trans-national challenges was just reasserted with the adoption of the new Urban Development Agenda in Quito last week, on 20 October. For international migration as for climate change, local leaders are increasingly collaborating across national borders to succeed. For instance, in the context of an inter-EU city solidarity network for refugees in Greece recently launched, the Mayors of Athens and Barcelona agreed to relocate 100 refugees between their cities.
Given its relatively nascent emergence for international migration, it is interesting to posit what city-to-city collaboration, across regions and countries, signifies for how policy will be implemented in the future.  The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Peter Sutherland, has advocated representation of local leaders in national delegations for policy deliberations at international levels such that on the ground expertise informs inter-state policy-making.  

Reflecting just how and through what means local leaders can play a more determined role in influencing national and international policy-making is all the more important as we identify the central elements of the compact on safe, orderly and regular migration to be developed between now and 2018.   Indeed, the concluding “ New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants” following the UN Leaders Summit on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants that was held on 19 September 2016, makes explicit reference to the role of local actors in relation to migration policy.  It officially acknowledges the need to build up cooperation and partnerships with local authorities, recognizing “the particular needs of local authorities, who are the first receivers of migrants”.
The Mayoral Forum on Mobility, Migration and Development

Co-founded by the World Bank KNOMAD, the Mayoral Forum on Mobility, Migration and Development (“Mayoral Forum”) is an annual City-led dialogue on migration and development, supported by local, regional and international partners. It provides an incubating space where local leaders can share practical and inventive solutions for governing migration, protecting rights and promoting inclusive urban growth.  Partners explore how good practices can be replicated in other cities, and identify the resources for local implementation.  What is more, the Forum acts as a bridge, opening access for cities and regional governments to policy circles where they can inform (and be informed by) national and international policy-making. In so doing, it fosters local adaptation and implementation of common principles, based on international standards.
  • The First Mayoral Forum in Barcelona (June 2014): the “Call of Barcelona” that emphasizes the need to amplify the voice of cities in global discussions.
  • The Second Mayoral Forum in Quito (November of 2015): the “Quito Local Agenda on Migration and Development”, which outlines how cities are meeting the SDGs, and where additional resources are required.
  • The Third Mayoral Forum in Quezon City (September 2016): the "Quezon City Commitment to Action", which reaffirms the connections between good migration governance, respect for human rights, and the attainment of the SDGs. 
  • The blueprint for local implementation by ASEAN Cities of the “Migrants in Countries in Crisis” (MICIC) Guidelines
This emerging global dialogue amongst mayors should continue to be supported and sustained as is done at the inter-governmental level with the Global Forum on Migration and Development, and at the regional level, with the regional consultative processes. 


Colleen Thouez

Senior Training and Research Advisor

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