‘Migration is an Urban Affair,’ IOM Director General Tells Global Mayoral Forum on Human Mobility, Migration and Development

International and Regional Cooperation, Migration and Development

Germany – Meeting in Berlin this week (26-27 June) for the 4th Global Mayoral Forum on Human Mobility, Migration and Development, William Lacy Swing, IOM Director General, will urge delegates to “stay connected with each other and with us as you continue to embrace migrants and their communities as key players in your efforts to build cohesive and prosperous societies.”

The Director General of the UN Migration Agency will stress three points in his remarks ending the two-day conference:

  1. Migration is essentially an urban affair.
  2. Migration to cities brings both challenges and opportunities.
  3. Partnerships and sharing of good practices is the way forward.

Director General Swing will remind delegates that migration is driving much of the increase in urbanization across the planet, making cities more diverse and connecting communities within and across borders. He will explain that at least three quarters of migrants, by conservative estimates, live in cities and that nearly one in five of all migrants live in the world’s top 20 largest cities, including Sydney, London and New York, each a city where migrants represent over a third of the population.

“We need to better connect innovative policies and practices developed by cities with wider migration management tools and practices. This would greatly contribute to enriching the way we govern migration. Local authorities are at the forefront of the management of migration, and they face increasing challenges and opportunities.”

The Director General of the UN Migration Agency will explain, too, that increased large scale migration to urban centres is inevitable due to enduring global demographics, among them the aging societies of richer nations which attract migrants from lands with slow and uneven economic growth. He will note that this occurs across regions with growing economies and not just in places facing humanitarian crises due to violence and natural disasters.

This latest meeting of the Global Mayoral Forum on Human Mobility, Migration and Development was hosted by Mayor Michael Muller of Berlin and organized by IOM and partners UNITAR, the UN Joint Migration and Development Initiative, the World Bank KNOMAD and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and included panels featuring mayors and other representatives from nearly 50 of the world’s leading cities.

The IOM Director General will remind delegates of the progress already being made across the continents in integrating new communities into large cities. He will stress the relevant frameworks and tools now available to help local authorities become active partners in migration management thanks to IOM’s many initiatives. The Migration Governance Framework (MiGOF) is one example – a framework that has been appropriated for use by local governments through the ‘Urban MiGOF’, a tool IOM has developed that can be used to facilitate consultation and consensus between various levels of the government and other partners.

“We must recognize the positive role of migrants in cities and urban areas. Migrants do not simply take advantage of the benefits that cities have to offer. They are active participants and contributors to the development of cities. Migrants the world over are valued as service providers, but they are much more than that: they are also builders of resilience for their host communities; agents of local development; as well as global ambassadors of the socio-cultural assets of the city. They are esteemed for their willingness to take risks and for their entrepreneurial flair and ability.”

For further information, please contact IOM's Joel Millman in Berlin, Tel: +41 79 103 8720, Email: jmillman@iom.int