Cities are attracting increasing numbers of people in search of a better life, more employment opportunities and better services, but also those fleeing conflict, natural disasters and environmental degradation. In 2014, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs estimated that more than half of the world’s population resided in urban areas  and that the number of people living in cities would reach approximately 6.4 billion by 2050, constituting 66  per cent of the global population. Migrants play an important role in the global shift to cities and in driving cities’ development agendas. However, this role seems to be largely overlooked in the global debate on urbanization and development. While many cities and local governments are attuned to the realities and policy responses that include migrants – and take migrants’ voices into account when putting forward agendas at both the national and federal levels – others have ignored this in their development planning.

For this year, IOM decided to align the topic of its principal forum for policy dialogue, the International Dialogue on Migration (IDM), with the theme of its flagship publication, the World Migration Report. Accordingly, the 2015 IDM high-level conference was dedicated to migrants and cities. The conference was the second such high-level event – with the first being the Diaspora Ministerial Conference held in 2013 – and brought together ministers, high-level government officials, mayors and other local authorities, the private sector and civil society organizations to discuss the complex dynamics of human mobility at the city and local level and how risks could be managed and development opportunities maximized. The conference was also the venue for the launch of the  World Migration Report 2015 Migrants and Cities: New Partnerships to Manage Urban Mobility.

The conference aimed to address the following broad themes:

  • The role of migration in shaping the future of cities;
  • Local governance of migration: challenges and opportunities specific to cities;
  • Case studies of local and national strategies to manage migration;
  • Partnerships between different levels of government, non-governmental organizations, academia and the private sector to facilitate positive outcomes for migrants and host communities;
  • Talent mobility and the contribution of migrants to the development of cities;
  • How cities can contribute to improving the public perception of migrants and migration.
  • The conference will also offer participants the opportunity to:
  • Take stock of various local programmes and initiatives to manage the challenges of human mobility;
  • Identify and share innovative practices and lessons learned;
  • Identify successful partnerships for managing mobility at local level between migrants, local governments, civil society and the private sector;
  • Advance the understanding of and provide recommendations on the inclusion of migration in local, national and global development planning;
  • Build bridges between the different levels of migration management and identify how IOM and other relevant actors can enhance assistance to local and national authorities at the policy, research and operational levels.

9.00–10.00          Registration
10.00–10.45        Opening session  

  • William Lacy Swing, Director General, IOM (opening remarks)
  •  Esther Alder, Mayor of Geneva (welcome remarks)
  • Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) (keynote remarks)
  • Marta Cygan, Director, Strategy and General Affairs, Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission (keynote remarks)

10.45–12.00        Session I: Migration in cities: shaping the urban future
Moderator: Beris Gwynne, Director and Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, World Vision International

  • Mark Owen Woyongo, Minister of the Interior, Ghana
  • Firudin Nabiyev, Chief of the State Migration Service, Republic of Azerbaijan
  • Wu Hailong, Permanent Representative of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland
  • Maureen Fallas, Mayor of Desamparados, Costa Rica (Presentation )
  • Marie Price, Professor of Geography and International Affairs, Department of Geography, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA
  • Kasségné Adjonou, President of the Union of Communes, Togo
  • Maurice Mbolela, Executive Secretary, Local Government Association, Zambia (Statement)

12.00–13.00        Session II: Successful integration of migrants: recognizing the key role of local authorities
Moderator: Anders Knape, Vice-President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Council of Europe

  • Simon Henshaw, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, US Department of State, United States of America (Statement)
  • Gustavo Baroja, Prefect of the Province of Pichincha, Ecuador (Presentation)
  • Jozias van Aartsen, Mayor of the Hague, the Netherlands  (Statement)
  • Kagiso Calvin Thutlwe, Mayor of Gaborone, Botswana (Statement)
  • Xie Xiaodan, Vice Mayor of Guangzhou, China  
  • Thomas Fabian, Deputy Mayor of Leipzig, Germany, Chair of the Social Affairs Forum of Eurocities (Presentation)

13.00–15.00        Lunch break
13.30–14.30        Side Event - Launch of the IOM/JMDI White Paper: Mainstreaming migration into local development and beyond

  • Cecile Riallant, Programme Manager, Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI), UNDP, Brussels, Belgium
  • Olivier Ferrari, Migration and Development Specialist, IOM, Geneva (Presentation)


  • John Bongat, Mayor, Naga City, the Philippines  (Presentation)
  • Amina Benkais Benbrahim, Representative for Integration for the Canton of Vaud, Switzerland
  • Olivier Le Masson, Programme Coordinator, Officer for African and European Partnerships, GRDR Migration–Citoyenneté–Développement, Paris, France

15.00–18.00        Session III: Migrants shaping cities: integrating migrants into the local agenda
Panel 1 15.00–16.30        Moderator: Howard Duncan, Executive Head of Metropolis, Carleton University, Canada

  • John Bongat, Mayor of Naga City, the Philippines (Presentation)
  • Caroline Bi Bongwa, Mayor of Bamenda, Republic of Cameroon  (Presentation)
  • Juan Carrasco, Mayor of Quilicura, Chile (Statement)
  • Thomas Moens, Advisor, Cabinet of the State Secretary for Asylum Policy and Migration, Belgium (Statement)
  • Jakob Smits, Director, Reception Centre Petit-Château, Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (Fedasil), Belgium (Presentation)
  • Salomé Ndayisaba, Director General of the Diplomatic Affairs Inspectorate, the Diaspora and Communication, Ministry of External Relations and International Cooperation, Burundi (Statement)
  • M. Dolores López, Commissioner for Migration, Barcelona City Council, Spain

16.30–18.00        Moderator: Fernando Murillo, Architect and Urban–Regional Planner, Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • Manuela Carmena, Mayor of Madrid, Spain
  • Kojo Bonsu Wiafe, Mayor of Kumasi, Ghana
  • Leoluca Orlando, Mayor of Palermo, Italy (Statement)
  • Mariama Adamou, Mayor of Karofane, Niger  (Presentation)
  • Ezequiel Milla Guerra, Mayor of La Unión, El Salvador (Statement)
  • Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner for Immigrant Affairs, New York City, USA (Statement)
  • Lefteris Papagiannakis, President of the Athens Migrant Integration Council, Greece (Statement)

18.15–20.00        Reception: Serpentine Bar
End of Day 1
27 October – Day 2
10.00–11.00        Launch of the 2015 World Migration Report – Migrants and Cities: New partnerships to manage mobility

  • William Lacy Swing, Director General, IOM (Statement)
  • Marie Price, Professor of Geography and International Affairs, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., United States of America (Presentation)
  • Yu Zhu, Professor, School of Geography, Director, Center for Population and Development Research, Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou, China (Presentation)
  • June J.H. Lee, Editor-in-Chief, 2015 World Migration Report, IOM (Presentation)

11.00–13.00 Session IV: Migrants in vulnerable situations in cities
11.00–12.00 Panel 1 Responding to vulnerabilities linked with urban migration crises
Moderator: Gordon McGranahan, Fellow, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom

  • Liduvina Magarin, Vice Minister for Salvadorians Abroad, El Salvador (Statement)
  • Yacinthe Wodobode, President of the Special Delegation of the city of Bangui, Central African Republic (Statement)
  • Iman Icar, Deputy Mayor of Mogadishu, Somalia (Presentation)
  • Valerio Neri, Director General, Save the Children, Rome, Italy
  • Cristiana Fragola, Regional Director for Europe and the Middle East, 100 Resilient Cities, Rockefeller Foundation, London, United Kingdom (Presentation)

12.00–13.00        Migrants and Cities: Partnerships in health 
Moderator: Davide Mosca, Director, Migration Health, IOM

  • Gilbert Cedillo, Councilman, City of Los Angeles, United States of America
  • Djibril Diallo, Senior Adviser to the Executive Director of UNAIDS and President of the African Renaissance and Diaspora Network, New York, United States of America  (Statement)
  • Nonceba Molwele, Councillor, Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Health and Social Development, Johannesburg, South Africa  (Presentation)
  • Amara Quesada-Bondad, Executive Director of Action for Health Initiatives Inc. (ACHIEVE), Quezon City, the Philippines (Presentation)
  • Alex Ross, Director, World Health Organization (WHO) Centre for  Health Development, Kobe, Japan (Presentation)

13.00–15.00        Lunch break
13.30–14.30        Side Event - Migrant Tales of Cities

15.00–15.30        Migrants’ voices session
Moderator: Azzouz Samri, Head of Governing Bodies Division, IOM

  • Anta Sane, Professor, Howard University and University of the District  of Columbia Community College, Washington, D.C., United States of America
  • Xyza Cruz Bacani, Photographer, Hong Kong, China (Statement)

15.30–16.30        Session V: Linking local and central authorities for good migration governance
Moderator: François Decoster, Chair, Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX), European Committee of the Regions, Mayor of Saint-Omer and Member of Nord-Pas-de-Calais Regional Council

  • Emilia Bjuggren, Vice Mayor of Stockholm, Sweden (Statement)
  • Khalifa Ghoula, Counsellor, State Secretariat for Immigration and Social Integration, Ministry of Social Affairs, Tunisia (Statement)
  • William Cobbett, Director, Cities Alliance, Belgium
  • Catalin Grosu, Director – Foreign Affairs and Protocol, Bucharest City Hall, Romania (Statement)

16.30–17.30 Session VI: Migrants and cities: new partnerships to manage mobility
Moderator: Laura Thompson, Deputy Director General, IOM

  • Ferran Bel, Mayor of Tortosa, Spain
  • Liu Gyoung-gee, Vice-Mayor of Seoul Metropolitan Government, Republic of Korea (Presentation)
  • Hubert Julien-Laferrière, Mayor of the 9th District of Lyon, Vice President of Grand Lyon Habitat, Representative of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), France
  • Jaime Lanaspa Gatnau, Member of the Board of Trustees, Fundació Bancària “la Caixa”, Barcelona, Spain (Presentation)
  • David Burrows, Managing Director International Organizations, Worldwide Public Sector, Microsoft Corporation (Presentation)

17.30–18.00        Wrap-up and closing remarks

End of Conference

Event documents and photos