Headquartered in Geneva, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has 174 Member States and a large “footprint” of over 400 offices worldwide. It is committed to the principle that safe, regular and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. IOM engages in the four broad areas of migration management:
- Migration and development
- Facilitating migration
- Regulating migration
- Forced migration
It works to develop the resilience of all people on the move and local communities, particularly those in situations of vulnerability, and builds capacity within national and local governments to leverage the opportunities of migration and minimize its negative impacts.
Currently, the global estimate is that there are 281 million international migrants in the world. While migration is a global phenomenon affecting all States, its related challenges and opportunities are first and foremost felt at the local level, in cities, which are home to the majority of worldwide migrants.
As a consequence, growing areas of IOM’s work focus on cities, climate change and migration; identifying solutions to protracted urban displacement; and integrated, inclusive local service delivery and governance. As such, IOM routinely works at the local and urban level to empower, support and uphold the dignity of migrants and provide advice on migration-related policy and practices. It carries out a significant number of city-level projects throughout the world in partnership with key UN agencies and local and regional governments including UN Habitat, UNDP, UNHCR and others.
IOM engagement with local and regional governments and local actors
IOM believes that working with local and regional governments (LRGs) and other local actors, both in urban and rural areas, enhances local outreach capacity, understanding of local dynamics and the sustainability of interventions. LRGs and other local actors are often the ‘first responders’ to migration and displacement.
IOM engages with LRGs to:
- Integrate migration into their policies and planning: IOM helps LRGs to include migrants’ voices and perspectives in policies and planning across various areas such as development, health and education. It is essential that these different sectors are coherent and that these policies work together. For example, migrants must be simultaneously included in urban planning, have access to education and be protected by labour regulations.
- Address drivers and structural challenges that compel people to move: IOM works in emergency settings to improve the resilience of cities facing crises related to the environment and climate change, or to conflict or instability. IOM supports LRGs to understand the mobility dynamics facing their territory, identify and resolve structural challenges and make migration a choice rather than a necessity. This is often done through Community Based Planning which ensures migrants, and all community members have a voice in local decision making.
- Maximizing the skills and diversity that migrants bring to the community: IOM provides capacity building, training and support to service providers and city administrators to strengthen more inclusive services that provide opportunities to migrants and communities. This can include a wide range of activities such as providing skills training to migrants; ensuring access to vaccinations and healthcare especially during the pandemic; enhancing pre-departure and arrival orientation for greater inclusion; creating urban service referral systems to identify and support vulnerable residents; carrying out job matching and entrepreneurship training; anti-discrimination training and advocacy to ensure that migrants have equal access to opportunities, regardless of ethnicity, language, disability, gender, administrative status, or any other characteristic.
- Empower local administrators and actors: LRGs are migration governance actors in their own right. With migration increasing becoming an urban phenomenon, IOM empowers them to manage both the positive and negative impacts of migration on the ground. It includes LRGs in the global conversations on migration such as the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) and the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), for instance through the Mayors Mechanism, co-steered with United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and the Mayors Migration Council.
- Foster deeper local-national coordination: National and LRGs should develop policies together, taking advantage of local expertise and knowledge and aligning local and national policies with global priorities. IOM’s work enhances coordination mechanisms between different levels of government, fostering more effective migration policies and better governance across all sectors (e.g., health, education).
Examples of IOM’s engagement with LRGs and local actors
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration
The role of local and regional governments (LRGs) is fundamental to develop and implement effective migration policies and practices. This has been widely acknowledged in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), the first-ever intergovernmentally negotiated UN agreement on a common approach to managing international migration. The GCM enshrines a “whole-of-government approach,” because while the GCM is state-led, LRGs play a critical role in the GCM’s implementation and review processes.
In 2018, over 76 city leaders adopted the Marrakech Mayors Declaration (MMD) “Cities Working Together for Migrants and Refugees,” and committed to implement both the GCM and Global Compact on Refugees. As reaffirmed by the MMD, “migration remains primarily an urban and local phenomenon. While acknowledging that immigration is a State prerogative, cities of every continent are at the forefront of managing the impact of migration as well as the promotion of inclusive, safe and sustainable societies.”
- In IOM’s role as Coordinator and Secretariat of the UN Network on Migration (a UN system-wide support for implementation, review and follow-up of the GCM), IOM supports local actors to engage in GCM global and regional reviews such as the IMRF through for example informal multi-stakeholder hearings. Recalling that LRGs are key allies in the implementation of the GCM, specific recommendations made during these hearings (May 2022) include:
- Consulting cities in the development of national migration and refugee policies, developing joint programmes and financing cities to deliver.
- Enabling meaningful access for cities to future global deliberations, including the 2023 Global Refugee Forum and 2026 IMRF.
- Additionally, launched in 2019, the Migration Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MMPTF) is the only funding mechanism fully dedicated to supporting collective action on migration. It is chaired by the Director General of IOM and governed by a Steering Committee which includes LRGs through the Mayors Migration Council. The MMPTF is fully aligned with the GCM’s 10 guiding principles, and it specifically espouses the people-centred, whole-of-government and whole-of society approaches. For instance, in 2021, 50% of joint programmes and initiatives funded by the MMPTF enter into implementation agreements with LRGs and related entities (e.g., provincial, municipal, district agencies). One of the first programmes financed under the MMPTF is a partnership between local governments in Santiago, Chile and Mexico City, Mexico, which aims to build the capacity of local governments and their stakeholders, as well as strengthen the socioeconomic integration of migrants and refugees through access to decent work, sustainable livelihoods, and social dialogue.
IOM migration tools and services for local and regional governments
- Migration 4 Development (M4D Net) is a global platform for practitioners and policymakers to exchange ideas, develop skills and consolidate partnerships to harness the development potential of migration and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the GCM. A core facet of this work and platform is engaging with local and community leaders. See dedicated sections on working with local governments, key local-level migration resources/guides/tools and local and urban migration projects.
- The Toolkit for Integrating Migration into Urban Development Interventions, developed in partnership with UN Habitat, is intended to provide concise, operational, and user-friendly information and tools to support international cooperation and development actors (working in, or with, the urban development sector) to understand how migration can be reflected in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of development cooperation interventions (i.e. projects or programmes) that have an urban development focus.
- Local Migration Governance Indicators (Local MGI). IOM developed the Local MGI to support LRGs to take stock of the migration policies and strategies they have in place and to foster the dialogue between national and local governments. Based on 80+ indicators, this is a voluntary and consultative process that offers local and regional governments (LRGs) an opportunity to have an introspective look at the policies, programmes, and structures they have in place to manage migration. Since its inception, more than 50 LRGs worldwide have applied the Local MGI, many of which used the exercise to inform the development of policies and capacity-building activities.
- The UN Joint Migration Development Initiative (JMDI) Toolbox and E-course are available to all stakeholders working on migration and development at the local level. Their guidance enables practitioners to maximize the potential of migration for local development by integrating the needs, voice and resources that migrants and diaspora bring to local development.
- The Guidelines on mainstreaming migration into local development planning aim to assist local and regional governments in enhancing their efforts to mainstream migration into all governance areas for enhanced policy coherence in migration and development. These Guidelines achieve this through a set of indicators that show how migration and development-related policies interact across a non-exhaustive variety of sectors. The indicators are accompanied by straightforward questions that practitioners can answer to identify institutional, policy and intervention gaps or weaknesses in mainstreaming migration and development in their local context.
- Success stories: a collection of good practices and lessons learned by local actors harnessing the development potential of migration: it contains a series of case studies by the UN Joint Migration Development Initiative (JMDI) on good practices, lessons learnt and recommendations built on the results and lessons learnt from the JMDI supported projects in eight target countries: Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, the Philippines, Morocco, Nepal, Senegal, and Tunisia. These are evidence-based and can serve to guide other local and regional authorities in implementing similar initiatives.
- Marrakech Mayors Declaration: Cities Working Together for Migrants and Refugees, December 2018.
- IOM 2022 project on Climate Migration in Urban Areas: Challenges, Representations and Inclusion.
- The IOM-UNDP Global Programme on Making Migration Work for Sustainable Development is carried out in 11 countries with the aim to support local-national policy coherence and mainstreaming migration into local level policies. The Programme also carries out local and city projects aiming to support migrants and communities to make migration work for everyone. Read more here and check out the activities in each country.
- Global Migration Data Portal: Migration and Urbanization data page
- The White paper on mainstreaming migration into local developmental planning provides a thorough analysis of what has been done thus far in mainstreaming migration at the local level, and allows for a stocktaking of functioning practices to paint a global picture of working processes, lessons learned and policy recommendations for future mainstreaming exercises.
- Ms Cécile Riallant: Head a.i., Department of Peace and Development Cooperation (integrated city and local solutions), firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ms Cecilia Cantos: Policy and Liaison Officer, UN Partnership Division, email@example.com
- Ms Yoselyn Manzano: Migration Policy Officer and Local Migration Governance Indicators focal person, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ms Joanne Irvine: Head a.i., Migration and Sustainable Development (local governance), email@example.com
- Ms Audrey Hickcox: Knowledge Management and Communications Officer Migration and Sustainable Development (local governance), firstname.lastname@example.org
For the Mayors Mechanism:
- Ms Sophie van Haasen, Coordinator, Mayors Mechanism, email@example.com