2023 Year in Review

Praia Nova, Beira, Mozambique. Photo credits: Samer Saliba

Dear Friends,

The Mayors Migration Council (MMC) was founded in 2018 by visionary city leaders during the negotiations of the UN Global Compacts for Migration (GCM) and on Refugees (GCR) with a clear mandate: help cities get a seat at the policymaking table and turn these landmark agreements into reality.

I assumed the role of Executive Director in December 2019, during the Global Refugee Forum (GRF), the first-ever global review of the GCR, at a time when mayors were largely excluded from official discussions. Representing the mayoral stakeholder group in the official plenary, I promised that next time, a mayor would address member states directly. 

Four years in, we realized this promise. In December 2023, Mayor Marvin Rees of Bristol spoke in the plenary on behalf of the whole mayoral delegation, with other mayors cheering from the floor. This marked a historic advancement for local governments worldwide, actualizing the vision of our founding mayors.

With this seat at the table, mayors showed up with an unprecedented number of commitments. Compared to the 12 city pledges in 2019, in 2023, they announced over 100 city pledges along with $80 million in financial commitments for city solutions —from supporting refugee children in Amman, to creating green jobs for refugees in Kampala, to providing humanitarian and legal aid to asylum seekers in San Antonio, or building local-national coordination systems in Zurich.

The 2023 GRF capped a year of significant progress for the MMC. We engaged mayors from nearly 100 cities worldwide, expanding our reach to over 250 cities globally. This includes Mayor Ron Nirenberg of San Antonio, United States, who joined the MMC Leadership Board to bring the voices and experiences of American cities to global policy discussions.

Our coalition has not only secured greater access to diplomatic processes but also influenced global and national policy positions, from the UNFCCC’s loss and damage agreement, to USAID’s support for Latin American cities. We have also unlocked millions of dollars in direct investments to cities, bringing the total to over $33 million. Part of this is through the Global Cities Fund for Migrants and Refugees, which is now providing direct funding and implementation support to city governments delivering solutions on climate migration, early childhood development, economic inclusion, and more. 

This is what we call the “elevator model” of the MMC: bring mayors up to influence international decision making and bring resources down so they can deliver local solutions at scale, while building evidence of city leadership in action and feeding positive narratives on migration.

In 2023, we saw this approach in action. But we have also seen that, as urban migration and displacement become the new normal, we have only scratched the surface. The demand for our work is increasing, many national governments still limit local action, and the municipal finance gap is still too wide.

As we move into 2024, our focus will be on shaping our 2025-2030 strategic direction, while continuing to deliver impact and build momentum. We aim to elevate city leadership and advocacy in critical areas such as economic inclusion and other complementary pathways, expand mayoral diplomatic efforts beyond GCM and GCR processes, and broaden the reach of the GCF and other municipal finance offerings. We also plan to strengthen our research and innovation capacity to support evidence-based migration narratives, and to diversify our governance by adding new voices from affected communities.

I am grateful to our mayors for their proactive leadership, our donors and partners for their trust and support, and the MMC team for their relentless dedication. Here’s to another impactful year together.

Vittoria Zanuso

Executive Director, Mayors Migration Council

2023 Impact

Learn More


Unlocked for city-led solutions


Cities engaged all over the world


Global policy positions influenced


City Commitments

2023 Achievement Highlights:

Securing historic mayoral access to the review of the UN Global Compact on Refugees.

In December 2023, the MMC mobilized 15 global mayors, including Amman, Bristol, San Antonio, and Zürich, to participate in the official program of the 2023 UN Global Refugee Forum (GRF) in Geneva, Switzerland. Joining national governments, refugee leaders, and the private sector, mayors assessed their progress towards the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) and delivered local commitments to action, including new humanitarian aid and reception support, refugee jobs and livelihood programs, and inclusive climate action in refugee hosting areas. Speaking on behalf of all mayors at the GRF plenary, the Mayor of Bristol announced more than 100 city pledges and $80 million in financial commitments for cities collected through the Call to Local Action for Migrants and Refugees (CTA), the official pathway for cities to commit to the Global Compacts. This participation marked an historical advancement for local governments, who were largely excluded at the first GRF in 2019.

Shaping national and global agendas on climate migration.

At the first-ever Cities Summit of the Americas (CSOA), hosted by the US Government in April 2023 in Denver, Colorado, the MMC organized a closed-door roundtable discussion on climate migration, bringing together representatives from the US Department of State, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and mayors from cities such as Barranquilla, La Palma, and Port of Spain. As a result of this engagement, USAID announced a $1 million investment to address climate migration in Latin American cities with the advisory support of the MMC. At the closing plenary, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a keynote address celebrating city leadership on climate and migration. In June, the MMC also brought city voices at the preparatory consultations for the Global Forum for Migration and Development (GFMD) chaired by the Government of France. As a result of this engagement, climate migration and multi-level governance were included as key themes for the 14th GFMD set to take place in early 2024. Building on this momentum, the MMC mobilized mayors from the C40-MMC Task Force on Climate and Migration to participate in  the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in December in Dubai, UAE. Here, the MMC and C40 released the first-ever report on urban Loss and Damage and secured speaking engagements for the mayors of Amman, Bristol, Freetown, Dhaka, and Paris, who used this platform to advocate for policy change and urgent investments in cities. These efforts contributed to the formal recognition of migration in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s funding arrangements for the landmark new UN Loss and Damage fund.

Building a marketplace of city-led solutions with the Global Cities Fund for Migrants and Refugees.

On World Refugee Day in June 2023, the MMC announced six new city grantees of the Global Cities Fund for Migrants and Refugees (GCF) delivering solutions for children and caregivers: Amman, Jordan; Dunaivtsi, Ukraine; Guayaquil, Ecuador; Milan, Italy; Montevideo, Uruguay; Ramallah, Palestine. This announcement brings the fund to a pipeline of 28 city grantees worldwide, far exceeding the MMC’s goal to fund 22 cities by 2022. Building on this milestone, the MMC released a Progress Report spotlighting the successes of the fund, including that 90 percent of cities who benefited from the GCF have already used this seed funding as proof of concept to unlock millions of dollars in additional investments to continue or expand their projects. In September, the MMC convened foundation CEOs and mayors, including Amman, Barranquilla, Bristol, Dhaka North, Freetown, Milan, and Quezon City, on the sidelines of the 2023 UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City to discuss new frontiers to localize funding for migrants and refugees. This discussion led to a shared vision to bring the GCF to $50 million, starting with $25 million by 2025, to support more cities, deepen its impact, and drive more funders and donors to invest directly in local governments.

Galvanizing mayoral leadership on migration and displacement.

Over the course of 2023, the MMC engaged mayors of nearly 100 cities worldwide, including 45 new cities never engaged before. This includes the Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Ron Nirenberg, who joined the MMC Leadership Board in place of MMC founding member Eric Garcetti, former Mayor of Los Angeles, California. MMC Leadership Board mayors met on the sidelines of the GRF to welcome Mayor Nirenberg and set their strategy for the years ahead in consultation with refugee leaders. Key priorities discussed include changing narratives on migration and displacement, exploring the role of cities in labor mobility and other complementary pathways, and diversifying the MMC’s governance to include the voices of refugee and migrant leaders with lived experience.


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