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UNITAR and Barcelona Provide the "Critical Space" for City Leadership to Strategize on Migration Policy
Barcelona, 20 June 2014 – Mayors and representatives of cities from around the world, European institutions and international organizations unanimously endorsed the Call of Barcelona, demanding greater decision-making power and more resources for local authorities in managing human mobility.
Mayors and representatives from a dozen cities, and European and international organizations gathered today in Barcelona for the first Mayoral Forum on Mobility, Migration and Development, hosted by the Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, to reflect and strategize on the role of cities in addressing human mobility issues and in ensuring coexistence and social cohesion.
The Forum was organized by the City of Barcelona, in collaboration with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the World Bank’s Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), with the participation of the European Commission. Participants included Mayors from cities such as Athens, Lisbon, Paris, Quito, La Paz, Sincan and La Unión, in addition to representatives from Bilbao, Budapest, San Salvador, Cologne, Ankara, Seoul, Malaga, Milan and many others. Other participating International Organizations included the EC-UN Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI); the United Nations University Institute on Globalization, Culture and Mobility (UNU-GCM); United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG); Metropolis; the Council of Europe; the Committee of Regions and The Hague Process on Refugees and Migration (THP).
The Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, stressed that local authorities are at the forefront in meeting the needs of migrants and in ensuring their productive place within increasingly diverse societies. Cities do so in a very practical way, despite limited access to decision-making circles in which migration policy is shaped, and with few to no resources. “We receive migrants but often act beyond our powers; we need more tools.”
Other mayors agreed to supporting greater solidarity amongst city leadership around the world in managing human mobility, and to fostering links between migration and development. In addition to transferring effective practices, city leaders called for greater access to circles in which migration policy is shaped, a voice through which practical challenges can be addressed, and increased resources to meet a sustained and increasing diversity in city centers around the world.
Cities globally are working towards creating social cohesion by ensuring a shared sense of citizenship and a feeling of belonging for migrants. Migrants often identify with their new city over any other reference point in the country; this fact can be very positive for cities’ growth and prosperity. Apart from migrants, cities are also increasingly called to address humanitarian crises, hosting asylum-seekers and other persons in need of protection.
In spite of their crucial role in the field of human mobility, cities are often isolated from policymaking at the national level. Spaces for creative thinking and strategizing are critical. They must bring all the different stakeholders around the table to respond to the challenges of migration and to maximize its benefits.
The European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, agreed on the important role of cities at the front line of migration governance and the need to listen to the voice of mayors. The Director General of IOM, Ambassador William Lacy Swing, said that “large-scale migration is inevitable and necessary; allowing citizens to find the job they want, creating economic development and making humanity prosper.” Swing also pointed out that cities respond to the key challenges of human mobility, thus being the “real agents of change.”
UN Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNITAR, Sally Fegan-Wyles, also stressed the importance of creating a space where cities can raise their voice. “Mayors and cities must, can and will take leadership on the issue of migration and the international community has to find space to listen to the voices of cities on the issue of migration.” In order to cause real change, taking into account local authorities is fundamental in defining the post-2015 development goals, she added.
Quito will carry the Call of Barcelona forward
After a boisterous and unanimous applause to the contents of the Call of Barcelona read out by the Deputy Mayor of Barcelona, Maite Fandos, participants agreed to maintaining the momentum created, with the Mayor of Quito, Ecuador, Mauricio Rodas, offering to host the upcoming Mayoral Forum in 2015 (whose first purpose will continue to be to strategize on the implications of cities as leaders on integration of migrants and on diversity – or – mobility, migration and development).
For more information see: https://www.unitar.org/ldp/facilitating-policy-dialogue