In Focus

Vienna Migration Conference 2021 explores how to re-imagine current and future partnerships

15 November 2021


“Re-imagining migration partnerships: Challenges, opportunities and strategies” was the topic of debate at the sixth edition of the annual Vienna Migration Conference, Europe’s leading forum on migration, which took place on 19 and 20 October 2021 at Vienna’s historic Palais Niederösterreich.

Held in a hybrid format after 2020’s fully online edition, this year’s event brought together ministers, decision-makers and other migration stakeholders to discuss the most important developments, challenges and opportunities for migration cooperation in Europe and beyond. While migration partnerships are an essential tool of migration policy, and can bring many benefits, developing and maintaining partnerships is no straightforward task. In this context, the conference sought to answer how policymakers and practitioners can re-imagine and re-energise cooperation among partners on key migration routes to Europe.

Nearly two years after its initial outbreak, the COVID-19 pandemic is still disrupting the global movement of people, while fresh migratory challenges at the borders of the European Union are pushing countries and international organisations to reassess their strategies. The unfolding situations in Afghanistan and Belarus were key points of discussion, reflecting the current policy agenda.

In his opening remarks, ICMPD Director General Michael Spindelegger remarked on the ways in which recent events in Afghanistan and COVID-19’s acceleration of pre-existing trends have reignited the debate about Europe’s approach to migration. Dr Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan, then shared his perspective on the current humanitarian crisis in the country and how migration partnerships could help address some of the challenges. 

Other sessions explored the realities on the ground along and across key migration routes, as well as views on deepening migration cooperation in Africa, the Mediterranean and the Western Balkans. Panellists also explored the broader context in which migration partnerships are situated, including crisis preparedness and response; the future of the EU amidst a turbulent geopolitical scene; and the road ahead in this highly sensitive area of international relations.

To capitalize on the numerous and enriching discussions of these intense conference, ICMPD has published six key takeaways and made all session recordings available online to make sure that the various contributions will keep adding to the ongoing debate on making migration better. A full report of the Vienna Migration Conference 2021 will follow in early 2022.

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