International Migrants Day: Cities and migrants a shared opportunity for a better integration

On the occasion of the International Migrants Day, UCLG and its members, reaffirm our commitment to the Mechelen Declaration. This year’s theme -Safe Migration in a World on the Move- emphasizes the challenges and difficulties of international migration and recalls the vital need for a Global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

Migration is the first reason of change in the worlds geography and demography that shows a new role of cities and towns. Regional and national and increasingly international migration shape cities and neighbourhoods to become diverse and vibrant, in permanent change. Local Government policies are people centred, and new urbanites will have new policies.

Migration is an opportunity, and above all a natural and necessary phenomenon. As, no barriers, borders or walls can prevent people from moving in search for a better future, for themselves and for their descendants, it is important to recognize mobility as a fundamental right of every human being.

The role of national, regional and local authorities, as well as of the international community and civil society, is to ensure that this mobility takes place in a safe, orderly and regular manner. This means putting in place the necessary means for this mobility and facilitate the conditions, both in the departure, or arrival territories.

Local and regional authorities can facilitate the inclusion of newcomers, ensure social cohesion and maximize the contribution of diversity in the territory to make it a tool for the sustainable development of their society at social, cultural and economic level.

As stated in the Bogotá Commitment, UCLG advocates to putting the Right to the City (key area of work in the New Urban Agenda and tightly linked to the SDG 11 "Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”) at the center of urban and territorial governance to fight inequalities. UCLG calls on cities and local and regional governments to facilitate newcomers’ access to rights and services and strengthen integration and inclusion policies and strategies as regards of employment, education, health, and housing”.

However, even if cities and municipalities are the entry point of migrants, still most part of the legal competences related to migration policies correspond to national governments. Thus, new and strong multi-level governance mechanisms are needed on migration related issues between international organizations, central governments and the local level in order to ensure a decent life for migrants and maintain the social and cultural cohesion of territories.

UCLG plays an important role to make local and regional governments voice heard by the international communities and by national governments in order to have the institutional and technical support to manage migration issues, as local and regional governments are at the forefront in addressing the issue of migration and mobility.

UCLG is already taking action on migration issues. In the framework of the Mediterranean City-to-City (MC2CM) project, UCLG together with the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and in partnership with UN-Habitat aim at generating capacity building and share experiences among cities. UCLG launched a Wave of Action on Migration in June of 2017, aiming to build and share a new narrative on migration and to improve the contributions of local governments to the governance of migration. The Wave of Action on Migration aims to strengthen the work of UCLG and the network itself and to better coordinate on migration related actions in terms of advocacy, learning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation, looking to maximize the impacts through coordination and joint actions on concrete messages in the benefit of all, migrants, citizens and cities.

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