From 20 – 24 September, the Migration City-to-City project is organising the MC2CM Days, a four-day conference opened by a high-level dialogue in Brussels. ICMPD Director General Michael Spindelegger opened the conference and emphasised the role of cities and local governments in the sphere of migration.
Titled “Renewed partnerships and migration governance in the Mediterranean: Local governments as assets for sustainability”, the conference was opened with a high-level dialogue. Showcasing the important contribution of local governments to migration governance, discussing multilevel migration dialogue mechanisms and the integration of local governments in migration policy development, as well as providing an open forum for high-level policy makers to present their views on the future of migration governance in the Euro-Mediterranean region. These were the main objectives of the high-level dialogue that took on 20 September in the framework of the MC2CM Days, an event organised by the Mediterranean City-to-City Migration taking place until September 24 in Brussels, and online.
ICMPD Director General Michael Spindelegger, in his opening remarks said: “It is about cities recognising and embracing their role as agents in migration governance […] migration is too complex and nuanced to be addressed by one nation, one ministry or one city alone. All levels of governance have to work together”, said Michael Spindelegger in his opening remarks.
Olivér Várhelyi, EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, explained the key role local governments play in the framework of the new Agenda for the Mediterranean, pointing out that when it comes to migration governance, what is needed is precisely a “whole-of-government approach, to work closely with partner countries and member states at different levels.” A vision shared by Maimunah Mohd Sharif as well, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, who also added that it’s of paramount importance to "support local governments to foster an urban culture of inclusivity where all are considered equal. This encompasses inclusive and participatory urban planning that accounts for the needs of migrants, refugees, and IDPs". On the same line, what is of paramount importance according to Emilia Saiz, Secretary General of UCLG, is consolidating a new notion of citizenship to commit to, to provide universal accesses to services and recognise the contribution of all people to our societies.
The panel discussion of the high-level dialogue, introduced by a keynote speech of Vincenzo Bianco, Rapporteur of the European Committee of the Regions on the renewed partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood, featured representatives of local governments who showcased their expertise and presented critical areas of urban migration policy in the Euro-Mediterranean region. Souad Abderrahim, Mayor of Tunis, Carola Gunnarsson, Mayor of Sala, and Salvatore Martello, Mayor of Lampedusa, took part in the discussion stressing that migration governance needs to be built on the local sphere, and account on cities’ experiences and knowledge.
“Effective global solutions require global frameworks that would consider us partners, when it comes to developing migratory frameworks, and not simply implementers of measures bestowed upon us by national or supranational entities”, stated Gunnarsson, who is also CEMR Spokesperson and UCLG European Vice-President. A concern shared by Souad Abderrahim, Mayor of Tunis, who also underlined that “it’s very important that we empower municipalities and make them partners in migration governance when it comes to decision-making.” On the other hand, Mayor Salvatore Martello from Lampedusa discussed about the UCLG Lampedusa Charter, an essential shift in migration governance from border-centred approaches to people-centred community-driven approaches to human mobility and diversity. “We should restart from scratch”, he stressed, “we don’t need to make distinctions in terms of migrants. All migrants are migrants.”
Closing remarks were given by Johannes Luchner, Deputy Director General, Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission (DG HOME), and Ralph Genetzke, Director and Head of ICMPD Brussels Mission. “It’s fortunate that we have events like this to discuss with people who actually do migration, stated Luchner. Only through an integrated approach and multilevel governance mechanisms, can we make then better migration policies, and realities”