Local governments seek to foster novel solutions that respond to common challenges faced by cities worldwide with the two-fold purpose of simultaneously ensuring economic growth and enhancing coexistence and social cohesion.
Participation and interaction of people from all around the world is a powerful instrument of creativity and transformation in the local arena. Throughout history, migration has shaped major metropolitan sites, new and old alike. Urbanization and cross-border migration are the major challenges of the future. It is estimated that, by 2050, 60-70% of the world's population will live in urban areas and the number of megacities will rise remarkably in developing countries.
Diversity is indeed a distinctive feature shared by the great cities around the world. It is also a challenge for cities. By identifying the most appropriate instruments, actions and policies tailored to each city’s circumstances, diversity can be a powerful force towards prosperity.
It is generally acknowledged that the contribution of migrants, either internal or international, has been a core element for growth and development of cities and states. Increased international human mobility has also brought new challenges for local authorities. Cities are at the front-line of integrating newcomers, and they often do so without the support and resources needed. Cities have had to adapt their services to an increasingly plural and diverse citizenship. From schools to health care, from welcoming services to identification cards, to support for small business, local administration has experienced an impressive transformation in recent years.
These developments were discussed during the meeting in New York entitled “On Local Government: Taking the Migration and Development Agenda Forward," which was held on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly High-level Dialogue on Migration and Development last October. This was an initiative of the World Bank's Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the Joint Migration and Development initiative (JMDI). There, the Mayor of Barcelona launched the initiative of the Mayoral Forum, aimed at bringing together local leaders worldwide to work on the challenges and opportunities that mobility and development mean 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 in the governance of migration.