19 September, New York, USA – More people than ever are living abroad. New UN global migration statistics reveal that in 2013, 232 million people, or 3.2 per cent of the world’s population, are international migrants, compared with 175 million in 2000 and 154 million in 1990.  

With few exceptions around the world, cities and regions facilitate access to rights, benefits and services for migrants. This is why, as a 2012 Cities of Migration Report concludes: “Cities are lead actors on the stage of global migration. As the level of government closest to the people, local governments are most directly and immediately impacted by the lives, successes and challenges of immigrants….local governments can succeed where many national governments are challenged”.

On 3-4 October 2013, the United Nations General Assembly will convene its second High-Level Dialogue (HLD) on International Migration and Development at the UN Headquarters in New York. The purpose of the HLD is to identify concrete measures to strengthen coherence and cooperation at all levels, with a view to enhancing the benefits of international migration - for migrants and countries alike - and its important links to development, while reducing its negative implications.

UNITAR and its partners (below) are organising the first side-event on this subject, dedicated to local and regional government on 4 October at the UN Headquarters (Conference Room 6). Entitled Local Government: Taking the Migration and Development Agenda Forward, the side-event will include the Mayors of Athens, Greece and Barcelona, Spain; in addition to high-level representatives from New York City, USA and Cuenca, Ecuador. Together with European Commissioner Ms. Cecilia Malmström; the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration, Mr. Peter Sutherland; Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNITAR, Ms. Sally Fegan-Wyles; the CEO of the KNOMAD Project, Mr. Dilip Ratha, and Mr. Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Director of the Bureau for Development Policy, UNDP.

This meeting will focus on insights, inroads, obstacles and the areas requiring additional (national and other) support, with a view to:

  • reducing discrimination against migrants and protecting their rights;
  • lowering the human, social, and economic costs of migration, including those related to recruitment, remittances, and obtaining documentation such as visas and residency permits;
  • expanding opportunities for migrants to more productively invest their earnings and share their knowledge; and
  • enlisting migrants and diaspora organizations in enhancing development in their communities of origin and destination.

In relation to the HLD's programme of work, this side-event broaches that of HLD Roundtable #3: "Strengthening partnerships and cooperation on international migration, mechanisms to effectively integrate migration into development policies, and promote coherence at all levels."

The side-event is a collaborative undertaking of: UNITAR’s Human Mobility Programme, together with the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) project, a World Bank initiative; and the Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI), administered by UNDP and implemented in partnership with IOM, ILO, UN Women, UNHCR and UNFPA. It is hosted in collaboration with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration.