The key role of cities and local and regional authorities has been duly recognized in the recent report issued by the former UN Special Representative on Migration

Mar 16, 2017
JMDI Focus area:
Migration and Local Governance
In this report, the former UN Special Representative on Migration, Peter Sutherland, acknowledges the important role of cities and local and regional authorities in managing migration. As a recommendation moving forward, Sutherland calls on the empowerment of cities and local government to ensure that best practices are shared, while referring to the Mayoral Forum as a good practice to be supported. Moreover, Sutherland calls on other support structures, such as the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), to include and elevate the voices of local government officials in national and global discussions on migration.





Peter Sutherland speaking at the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD)


This report is a true testament to the key role of cities and local and regional authorities in managing migration “who are often at the forefront of integrating new arrivals” (43). Indeed, the report acknowledges that local and regional authorities are at the forefront of migrant reception and integration and puts forward a specific recommendation 14 to: “empower cities and local government” by creating a “dedicated initiative for cities and regions (76a),” built upon the practices of the JMDI,  in order to effectively share good experiences and lesson learnt from the local level. Addtionally, the importance of “equipping local governments with the necessary prerogatives and resources for integrating newcomers, to designing international fora and partnerships that can facilitate policy coordination and convergence in critical areas” is recognised by Sutherland (41). This acknowledgement of the critical role of local authorities, as well as civil society[1] and the diaspora,[2] in migration management is greatly welcomed by the JMDI.


Group picture with all participants of the JMDI training session at the 3rd Global Mayoral Forum in Quezon City, Philippines;
Photo: Courtesy of the Asian Development Bank


Moreover, the report recommends that support structures should be further institutionalised to encourage exchanges among local governments (43) and between local and national governments. Thus, Sutherland recommends that “representatives of local authorities [...] be systematically included in national delegation at international meetings on migration (76b),” such as the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) (see recommendation 14).


JMDI Knowledge Management Expert Joanne Irvine was a co-rapporteur for two working sessions at the 2016 GFMD Civil Society Days in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


The added value of the local dimension and the need for a multi-level and coordinated response to migration is also recognised in the “call for continued support for the Mayoral Forum on Mobility, Migration and Development (76c)” (see recommendation 14). The JMDI welcomes this call for support and the recognised value of this forum – a forum which the JMDI has supported, along with UNITAR, KNOMAD, IOM and SDC partners, since its inception in 2014. The upcoming Mayoral Forum on Mobility, Migration and Development is now set to take place in Berlin back to back with the upcoming 2017 GFMD in order to link up these two processes. More information will by provided by the JMDI on this soon.

Sutherland concludes his report by once again acknowledging that migration-related problems must incorporate a bottom up approach (89), so that new ideas can be developed and implemented to later influence national and global discourse and policy. As demonstrated in our work, we too believe that this focus on the local and regional level is essential for ensuring sustainable practices and policies.


  • Background

This report was submitted to the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, by the former UN Special Representative on Migration, Peter Sutherland on February 3, 2017. The report provides recommendations for better migration management - inputs that were developed over a two-year period with the support of many experts. In light of the politically binding commitments related to the second United Nations High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (2013), the 2030 Agenda (2015)[3], and the New York Declaration(2016)[4], States have publically acknowledged that the responsibility of migration management should be shared (29). In the New York Declaration, because of this need for better collaboration on migration among stakeholders (12), States initiated a two-year process for developing a global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration. The aim of the compact is to set standards for migration governance, to be upheld in national, bilateral, and regional contexts (12). As such, in this report, Mr. Sutherland presents a timely and important roadmap to improve migration governance and feed into the development process of the Global Compact. Mr. Sutherland believes that all relevant actors, including interior ministries, local authorities, and non-government entities, should be included in the process of negotiation (13) and coalition formation, so that shared priorities are advanced among a larger number of relevant stakeholders, with the hope of making the Global Compacts as effective and comprehensive as possible (14).

The objective of this report is to demonstrate that migration does not have to be a “source of conflict” between or within States. In the introduction of this report, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Migration, Peter Sutherland, explains that migration can be better managed through international cooperation to ensure that migration is facilitated in a safe and legal manner. In the second part of the report, commitments between States and migrants, among States, and between States and other stakeholders are referenced as a basis for five agendas of action: A) Managing crisis movements and protecting migrants in vulnerable situations; B) Building opportunities for labour and skills mobility; C) Ensuring orderly migration, including return; D) Fostering migrant inclusion and development benefits; and E) Strengthening governance capacities. Then recommendations are put forward on how States, along with other relevant actors, should approach migration to address these priorities. These recommendations are practical and are intended to ensure the delivery of the 2030 Agenda and inform, as well as advance, the Global Compact on safe, orderly and regular migration to take place in 2018 (48).



For more information see:

  • Upcoming GFMD
    • To take place from June 28, 2017 – July 01, 2017 in Berlin Germany.



  • Synthesis Report in Context of Third Global Mayoral Forum: Civil Society Consultation on Migration and Local Development
    • This report was written and presented during a special session dedicated to the role of civil society in supporting cities in harnessing the potential of migration for local development at the Third Global Mayoral Forum on Human Mobility, Migration and Development hosted by Quezon City, Philippines in 2016. The report is the culmination of three consultation processes carried out in preparation to the Forum by the JMDI together with its partners UNITAR, IOM, KNOMAD of the World Bank and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, in close cooperation with the civil society organization Global Coalition on Migration and Migrant Forum in Asia. These consultations gathered and consolidated the long-standing experience, good practices, lessons learnt and expertise of 70 civil society organizations and migrants’ associations worldwide on the topic of managing migration for local development. The report brings all this experience together and provides a set of policy and practical recommendations for cities and other local and regional authorities on how to manage migration for local development and outlines what services and supporting roles civil society can provide.



[1]Civil society has been a great source of hope: In the face of widespread hostility towards migrants and refugees, private citizens, NGOs and businesses are responding with an admirable display of solidarity and mobilisation. They rescue people at sea; help with the reception and integration of refugees and migrants in local communities, sometimes by hosting them in their homes; offer legal aid, so migrants can claim and defend their rights; provide translation services, language learning, training and internship opportunities; and much more.” (43 – under commitments between states and other stakeholders)

[2] “States are not the only decision makers on migration. Family ties, diaspora networks and the private sector are driving much of international migration” (43 – under commitments between states and other stakeholders)

[3] “In 2015, the leaders of all the UN’s Member States agreed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) —a set of universally applicable commitments (including the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development) for improving the lot of people and the planet, to be achieved by the year 2030” (10)

[4] “On 19 September 2016, world leaders gathered for a summit in New York to address “large movements of refugees and migrants”.” (12)