Cities as Migration Governance Partners

April 19, 2023
In a world where interdependent issues such as migration, climate change, diversity, democracy, and sustainable development transcend nations and continents, multilateral cooperation must move beyond the national level.

As the world becomes more and more urban, these issues take concrete form in cities, where local governments increasingly become de facto migration-governance actors. In this context, local governments carry high potential—and in many cases, stand ready—to partner with civil society, national governments, and international organizations in shaping coherent policies that address the needs of migrants, refugees, and locals alike. However, local governments are often excluded from national and international decision-making processes, even for policies that directly affect their residents.

Recognizing the growing expertise that local governments can leverage to link local, national, and international policy design and implementation, the German Marshall Fund’s Cities Managing Migration project (CMM) promotes a bottom-up perspective that explores opportunities for city governments to participate in national and international knowledge exchanges, decision-making processes, and multi-stakeholder partnerships for local action. The CMM project is based on the premise that such action could make migration governance more outcome-oriented by ensuring that policies and practical implementation are grounded in and address local potentials, needs, and challenges.

Drawing on firsthand insights and recommendations developed during six transatlantic CMM city convenings with representatives of around 40 cities in 2021 and 2022, this policy report focuses on two central city strategies that recognize cities as partners of national and international actors in migration governance: cross-border city engagement for outcome-oriented migration governance and local-level multistakeholder partnerships for urban migration governance. The report covers the topics of fostering human-centered safety, facilitating creative workforce integration, and driving integration in rural cities and town.

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