17 June 2014, Barcelona, Spain - For the first time in history, more people are living in urban areas than in rural ones. It comes as no surprise that cities are the main entry points for migrants, since they provide the necessary economic opportunities and the desired social networks. Consequently, there is an increased recognition of the fundamental role played by local and regional authorities in responding to key challenges pertaining to migration, such as (re)integration, education, health, and access to basic services. Cities also have an important role to play in strengthening social cohesion, including by fostering relations with countries of origin. With few exceptions globally, cities and regions thus facilitate migrants’ access to basic rights, benefits and services.

The greater impact and involvement of local goverment in a more mobile world were highlighted during the side-event at the UN High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (3-4 October 2013), entitled “On Local Government, Taking the Migration and Development Agenda Forward,” an initiative of UNITAR, with World Bank's Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD), and the Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI). During the event, the Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias I Vidal de Llobatera, announced that his City would host the first Mayoral Forum on Mobility, Migration and Development, aimed to bring together mayors from across the globe to work on the challenges and opportunities that human mobility creates at the local level; to share a vision for developing a local agenda on human mobility and development; and to channel and enhance the visibility of the role played by local authorities on migration governance.

The first high level Mayoral Forum on Mobility, Migration and Development took place on 19-20 June 2014 in the City of Barcelona. It assembled a dozen mayors from around the world and representatives from international organizations to discuss various themes such as “city government and its leadership role within and between countries regarding global migration and mobility governance” and “fostering economic prosperity & development in origin and destination communities, a virtuous circle.” Partners include the World Bank’s Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD); the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI) and the United Nations University Institute on Globalization, Culture and Mobility (UNU-GCM).

The Mayoral Forum serves as a high-level political complement to the work of the Learning Platform on Human Mobility (LPHM), established by UNITAR’s Human Mobility Programme in 2012 as a global platform dedicated to strengthening the capacities of local and regional government officials to address migration and human mobility challenges through a prestigious, hybrid curriculum of face2face and online learning developed with preeminent experts in the field.

For more information on the Mayoral Forum, see: https://www.unitar.org/ldp/facilitating-policy-dialogue.