September 18, 2017
Hosted by the City of New York
In Partnership with the Open Society Foundations, Concordia, and Columbia University’s Global Policy Initiative
by invitation only
Cities have long been sites of migration, amplifying the pluralism and community-based innovation that define city life, as well as the complexity of policy responses required of city leaders to serve all residents. Cities often act as the front line in meeting newly arrived migrants’ and refugees’ needs, and are at the forefront of creating longer-term urban policies that foster diversity and inclusion. The NYC Global Mayors Summit invited municipal leaders, civil society, and international stakeholders to discuss how cities overcome obstacles to implementing policies that promote migrant and refugee integration, rights protection, and empowerment; such policies are largely considered fundamental to achieving social integration. The program underlined how, in pursuing social cohesion, cities can reshape national narratives on migration and social inclusion, demonstrating the strength and richness that result from an inclusive pluralism. What is more, as in other areas of international policy making, cities are increasingly collaborating across national borders: sharing ideas, forming coalitions, and challenging their national governments to adopt policies that are proving effective at the local level. The program highlighted the role of partnerships, including city networks and public-private partnerships, in advancing the goals established by cities to comprehensively address the global migration challenge.
City Innovations for Fostering Welcoming Communities
Cities are global innovators in fostering welcoming communities as reflected in migration and refugee policy and practice relating to integration, rights protection, and civic engagement. Examples include New York City’s municipal ID card program, London’s community sponsorship program, and Philadelphia’s welcoming and integration efforts. Through these initiatives, cities are tackling the difficult challenges of personal identification, racism and xenophobia, political representation, and integrated service delivery. Questions to be considered in this session include: are such initiatives (and programs) transferable to other cities? What should cities consider when implementing similar programs? How can cities gauge interest and commitment from host communities and recently arrived communities? Participants will also define the “asks” of national governments and other stakeholders in support of solutions, including private and non-governmental sectors.
Innovations to Overcome Policy Challenges
Social integration is not a marginal issue; it is central to the general welfare and public safety of all city residents. Yet cities are often constrained by national policies in their ability to govern effectively at a local level. While the degree and nature of the obstacles vary, many cities are forced to reconcile disjointed national migration policies with a duty to serve all city residents with equity and care. Questions to be considered in this session are: how do cities overcome legal and capacity constraints to social integration? Who are their partners in these efforts (e.g. consular offices; civil society; private citizens)? What are a city’s most pressing needs when welcoming new arrivals? How do cities navigate legalbarriers to non-discrimination in service delivery? How can constructive city action positively influence regional and/or national legislation?
Advocacy & Global Coalition Building: Working Through City Networks
A number of city networks on migration already exist. Some are long-standing organizations which have grown to tackle migration and refugee policy (e.g. United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)), while others were recently created and now include migration and refugee policy mandates (e.g. Resilient Cities). A growing number of city networks are moving beyond the exchange of best practices to more narrowly focused objectives, such as: providing legal assistance and advice; standardizing welcoming practices and approaches across cities; resettling refugees; building administrative capacities; and channeling information from cities into inter-state policy deliberations (e.g. the UN Mayoral Forum). Selected city networks will present their achievements. Questions to be considered in this session are: how can city networks help city leaders and administrators achieve their goals? Are country/region-specific networks more useful than global networks in helping cities strategize and implement their objectives?
Promising Partnerships with the Private Sector, Civil Society, and the Public
Businesses, civil society organizations, universities, and private citizens around the world are responding with admirable displays of solidarity and mobilization in the face of widespread hostility towards migrants and refugees. Cities will discuss existing and promising opportunities to promote integration, protect rights, and empower migrants and refugees with the private sector, universities, and civil society representatives. Questions to be considered in this session are: how can cities benefit most from partnerships with the private sector and community leaders? What lessons can be drawn from existing models on issues of accountability and transparency? How can public-private partnerships be leveraged? Where should private donors concentrate resources to support cities’ efforts? How does engagement with civil society differ (as a lead or implementing agent)? What are the main constraints?