JMDI side-event at the 2014 Global Forum on Migration and Development

May 21, 2014

Speakers during the JMDI side-event held during the Global Forum on Migration and Development, 13 May (Stockholm, Sweden), Photo: JMDI

A global community of migration and development practitioners, experts and policy-makers met over five days in Stockholm at the seventh edition of the Global Forum on Migration and Development to discuss the most pressing issues and set the next agenda in the field of migration and development. The Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI) was represented for the sixth time at the Forum and contributed through the organization of a side-event entitled “Local Authorities: the missing link to harness the potential of migration for development” which was held during the Civil Society Days on May 13th.

“Migrants do not live in a state. They live in a city and in a neighbourhood”

The above statement made by a representative from the City of Stockholm during the Common Space, which brought together representatives from civil society and national governments, reflects the growing consent to involve local authorities in forthcoming national and global discussions on migration and development and to further acknowledge the local-to-local dimension of the migration and development nexus.

In line with declarations and commitments of most speakers and participants to make migration a choice rather than a necessity, the role of local authorities to plan local development strategies and implement concrete initiatives conducive to maximizing the positive impacts of migration on development, especially in areas such as health, education and the provision of decent work, was widely acknowledged.

The speakers of the JMDI side-event demonstrated through concrete examples that local authorities are indeed the missing puzzle in the global migration and development debate and made the case for shifting the attention of policy-makers and practitioners to the local level. A knowledgeable panel made up of the Prefect of Pichincha in Ecuador, Mr. Gustavo Barojo; Ms. Hélène Bourgade, Head of Unit – Quality of Operations for Social and Human Development and Migration, European Commission; Mr. Frans Bouwen, Director of External Relations, The Hague Process, Netherlands; Mr. Miquel Esteve, the Commissioner for Migration and Interculturality from the City of Barcelona; Mr. Alex Meija, Head of the CIFAL Training Centre Network, United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR); and Ms. Aileen Constantino Penas, Deputy Director, Athika Workers and Communities Initiative, Philippines; showed that local authorities have a key stake in encouraging migrant entrepreneurship, fostering social inclusion and cohesion while supporting the inclusion of migration issues into local development planning, as well as in the adequate and timely provision of public services to their migrant communities.

The session was moderated by Ms. Cécile Riallant, JMDI’s Programme Manager, who highlighted the commonalities and recommendations that emerged from the speeches and presentation of the speakers:

  • the need to further institutionalize the migration and development dialogue at the local level among stakeholders, as well as with the national counterparts.
  • systematically involving migrant and diaspora populations in the planning of local development strategies.
  • creating structures within local administrations that facilitate the integration, return and investments of migrants in regions that are affected by important flows of mobility.
  • giving to migrants a voice in the local, political, social and economic life of communities in countries of origin and destination.

The concluding remarks were delivered by Ms. Hélène Bourgade, who stressed the commitment of the European Commission to further support initiatives that involve decentralized levels of governments. She put emphasis on cities as important development actors and the importance of city-to-city cooperation in the field of migration and development.

The JMDI side-event fit into the wider global consultations of the development community who recognizes human mobility as a transformative issue for the post-2015 development agenda, as well as the ongoing discussions about the need to localize future development objectives. The session represents a contribution to finding local solutions to major global development trends and challenges. The decision of the JMDI team to host this side-event is a direct outcome of the 2013 High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, and our commitment to further promote similar forms of exchanges such as the upcoming Mayoral Forum on Mobility, Migration and Development which will hosted by the City of Barcelona in June 2014.

At this seventh edition, the JMDI side event was success and it is expected that that the local dimension and the need to engage with decentralised levels of governance will appear in the conclusions of several round tables of both the Civil Society and the Governments Days. 

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