With 60M Migrants Fleeing Their Homes, 100RC Releases Guide to Help Cities Adapt to Global Crisis

244 million migrants settled worldwide in 2015, predominantly in cities; new strains on already tight resources remain unaddressed by national and international actors

“Global Migration: Resilient Cities at the Forefront” recommends cities proactively plan for integration of new populations; create programs that promote social cohesion; reduce economic barriers for migrants; and pursue public and private partnerships to develop solutions

Report takes insights from 100RC member cities – including Los Angeles, Montreal, Athens, Thessaloniki, Amman, Paris, Ramallah, and Medellín – and global migration experts like International Rescue Committee

NEW YORK, NY 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) – today released a guide to help the world’s cities confront the growing challenge of global migration in the 21st century. The report points to programs being implemented in cities across the globe that demonstrate how to best integrate migrants into their new homes, while also creating benefits for all residents. They include a program in Montreal, Canada that helps small businesses with recruitment challenges extend economic opportunity to migrants while strengthening their own businesses; a program in Amman, Jordan that is improving solid waste infrastructure to deal with a large population influx, while reducing CO2 emissions and creating jobs; and a program in Los Angeles that is bolstering services at its public libraries to assist migrants on the path to citizenship. The report points to the programs as tangible, replicable examples that can benefit all global cities.

The report, “Global Migration: Resilient Cities at the Forefront,” arrives as forced displacement is at an all-time high, with over 60 million people worldwide currently fleeing their homes, compared to 40 million at the time of World War II, and as more than 244 million migrants have recently settled worldwide – mostly in cities with already strained resources. An annual average of 21.5 million people have been displaced by climate-related natural disasters—such as floods, storms, wildfires, extreme temperature—each year since 2008. Thousands of others are forced to move by slow-burning disasters, such as droughts or coastal erosion linked to sea level rise.  Today, cities are home to over 50 percent of the world’s population, and are expected to absorb another 2.5 billion people by 2050. This population influx is expected to include hundreds of millions of migrants voluntarily leaving their homes in search of opportunity.

Read the full report here: www.100resilientcities.org/Migration

“Mass migration is rapidly changing our world, and cities need to embrace integration, not isolation, to successfully address new challenges,” said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities. “Cities must meet the crisis head on, and seize this critical opportunity to become more resilient by implementing creative solutions that uplift struggling populations and build greater social cohesion.”

The report was developed during the “100RC Network Exchange: Cities and the Global Migration Crisis” that took place in Athens, Greece in September 2016, and involved the collaboration of eight 100RC network cities who have experienced both the sudden and long-term effects of migration, including Los Angeles, Montreal, Athens, Thessaloniki, Amman, Paris, Ramallah, and Medellín.

“The Athens Network Exchange made evident that we must be more swift in changing gears: quickly move away from dealing with migration as a humanitarian crisis managed by national governments or international organisations, to embracing migration patterns as a permanent part of our urban landscape and an opportunity to build urban resilience,” said Eleni Myrivili, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Athens, Greece, host of this 100RC Network Exchange.

Most voluntary and forcibly displaced migrants move to cities, where they can live in anonymity and find support from existing networks of fellow migrants. In the United States, 92 percent of migrants live in urban areas, as do 95 percent in the United Kingdom and Canada, and 99 percent in Australia.

The report illustrates four best practices that collectively emphasize the need for cities to develop better local, national, and international partnerships to successfully integrate newcomers. They are:

  • Plan for a Dynamic Future: By embracing global migration as a permanent feature of the urban landscape, adaptive cities prepare, transform, and thrive in the face of a dynamic future. To transform migration into opportunity, cities must develop strategies and resources dedicated to the successful integration of new populations, such as incorporating migration considerations into the design of key services and infrastructure and/or establishing a city-level office dedicated to the successful integration of newcomers.
    • For example: Amman, strained by a massive influx of Syrian refugees, is taking steps to improve its solid waste infrastructure to address a 25 percent increase in the levels of waste caused by the sharp population boom. The city is linking this investment to a comprehensive program to reform the solid waste sector to manage solid waste more efficiently, generate renewable energy, reduce CO2 emissions, and create new jobs for the whole population.
  • Embrace Newcomers: By welcoming and integrating migrants, inclusive and cohesive cities become better places for everyone, especially their most vulnerable residents. Cities must promote programs that encourage social cohesion and welcome migrants as a core part of the city through public education or establishing programs that foster regular interactions between new and existing populations.
    • For example: Los Angeles has launched a “Path to Citizenship Program” in the city’s public libraries, creating opportunities for newcomers to learn about the immigration process and to obtain services. All 73 libraries have trained librarians and citizenship corners to provide information on how to become a citizen.
  • Thrive Together: By valuing and developing the talent of migrants, equitable cities create opportunities for all residents. Cities must provide policies – such as initiatives that improve access and reduce barriers to financial services – that create more economic opportunity for migrants to lead successful lives.
    • For example: Montreal has launched the “Employ Nexus and Professional Sponsorship Program,” which encourages small businesses with recruitment challenges to hire, and offers immigrants facing employment barriers 6-month internships to get work experience in the sector corresponding to their training. This not only provides economic opportunity for migrants, but strengthens the health of small businesses as a whole.
  • Lead for Change: By partnering with local, national, and international actors, cities can create an urban environment that more effectively integrates newcomers. Cities must pursue partnerships with other public and private actors to best leverage the arrival of new populations and fill policy gaps that may exist.
    • For example: Paris has created welcome centers for refugees within the city boundaries, and has developed “Mobilizing the Paris Community for Refugee Welcome” plan, a strategic document that leverages current city competencies for managing other vulnerable groups, such as unaccompanied minors or the homeless, and applies them to the refugee population.

“The Global Migration: Resilient Cities at the Forefront guide is a product of a collective effort of cities like Thessaloniki, dealing with different aspects of immigration around the world that joined forces and shared knowledge to create a new paradigm of urban development for the 21st century,” said Yiannis Boutaris, Mayor of Thessaloniki, Greece. “Cities once again are taking the lead and becoming the beacon of social innovation and solidarity globally.”

The report was also developed with the additional expertise of 100RC platform partners including the International Rescue Committee, MasterCard, and ESRI, and organizations including the International Organization of Migration, Welcoming America, the Brookings Institution, Mercy Corps, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Read the full report here: www.100resilientcities.org/Migration

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About 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation 

100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic, and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each of our cities who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a Resilience Strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges. For more information, visit: www.100ResilientCities.org.

Contact: Andrew Brenner (ABrenner@100RC.org; 646-612-7236)