10 March 2015, New York, United States - Today, city representatives and global experts gathered in New York City to focus on the role of city leadership in managing greater diversity and urbanization. "Cities have an important role to play because it all happens in cities, and greater global visibility and knowledge of this fact is required," stated Ambassador Luis Gallegos, Special Senior Fellow at UNITAR.
The meeting stems from the UN High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development in October 2013, during which UNITAR, the World Bank, and the Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI) organised a first UN assembly on the issue of migration and development for local and regional government representatives, under the auspices of the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Migration.
The October 2013 meeting led to the 1st Mayoral Forum on Mobility, Migration and Development that took place on 19-20 June 2014 in Barcelona. Today, Barcelona presented the outcome document of the first Mayoral Forum, the “Call of Barcelona,” and passed the torch to the City of Quito that will host the 2nd Mayoral Forum in November 2015.
City representatives emphasized that while immigration policy is still managed nationally, immigrant policy rests squarely in the hands of sub-national government. How to engage in inclusive urban planning and implement non-discriminatory programmes that provide better access to services for all city residents is deemed vital to fostering social cohesion. In addition, and equally central to the equation, is the crucial role played by cities in fostering conditions such that migrants become assets to economic development. "Faced with a global competition for talent...cities that are globally engaged will prosper, those that are fearful of more diversity will ultimately fail," emphasized Dr. Howard Duncan, Executive Director of Metropolis. The UN and relevant international organizations, development agencies, and research and training networks exchanged views on how they can and do support cities in this field.
In responding to the most recent UN General Assembly resolution on migration and development, in which strengthening synergies between global, regional, national and local levels was emphasized, in addition to the UN Secretary-General’s eight-point plan that encourages enhanced migration partnerships and cooperation, UNITAR's Decentralized Cooperation Programme will continue to ensure that the work of city governments is conveyed globally, including at the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) taking place in Istanbul in October 2015. “We, the international community, have a responsibility to take forward what cities expressed at the first Mayoral Forum, namely greater access and voice in decisions that have an impact on the ground”, stated Dr. Colleen Thouez, on behalf of the organizations that convened the meeting.