Economic Inclusion Press Release

Global Mayors Deliver Critical Momentum at UN Refugee Conference  

From Zürich to Bristol to Amman to San Antonio, world mayors meet in Geneva to discuss progress towards the UN Global Compact on Refugees at 2023 Global Refugee Forum. 

Mayors bring 100 pledges that support forcibly displaced people in urban areas, including humanitarian relief, socio-economic support, and inclusive climate action. 

Mayors Migration Council and partners announce $80 million in financing pledges to support local governments and accelerate local delivery of Global Compact. 

Geneva, Switzerland — This week, mayors from all over the world are meeting in Geneva to participate in the 2023 United Nations Global Refugee Forum (GRF), the global review of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), to turn the  agreement adopted by national governments in 2018 from aspiration into action. Together, mayors are delivering 100 pledges to the Forum that make a tangible difference in the lives of refugees. The Mayors Migration Council (MMC) and partners are standing with them in solidarity and announcing $80 million in funding targets to support city-led action for migrants and refugees.  

More and more refugees look to cities for safety and opportunity, with 70 percent of forcibly displaced people turning to cities. Cities are also where today’s most pressing global challenges play out, from the climate crisis to growing inequalities and political polarization. More than one of every 73 people on Earth is forcibly displaced — a historic high of 114 million people. In just the past 12 months, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) declared a record 46 emergencies across 32 countries.  

“From implementing local housing projects to sheltering those displaced and ensuring their access to schools and other critical social services, cities are at the helm on creating open, inclusive, and supportive environments for refugees and IDPs,” said Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).  

The MMC was founded in 2018 to help mayors influence the GCR to ensure that the final draft of this foundational UN agreement reflected cities’ priorities and their vital role in building effective refugee responses. The mayors’ pledges in support of the GCR are the result of a Call to Local Action for Migrants and Refugees organized by the Mayors Mechanism — a partnership between the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), Mayors Migration Council (MMC), and the UN Migration Agency (IOM) — in collaboration with UNHCR.  

“Local and regional governments play a critical role in meeting the challenges of the future,” said Amy Pope Director General UN Migration Agency. “In my new role as Director General, I’m committed to building a UN Migration Agency that works hand-in-hand with the local government to serve migrants and displaced people. From addressing the impact of climate change on human mobility to building job opportunities and migration pathways, cities are critical partners.”   

The measures championed by mayors are featured in the Second Report on Local Action for Migrants and Refugees. Examples include:

  • Support for refugee reception and inclusion in Gaziantep (Türkiye), Bucharest (Romania), and Renne (France), and more. 
  • Support for refugee jobs and livelihoods in Kampala (Uganda), Barranquilla (Colombia), Montréal (Canada), and more.  
  • Support for refugee education and early childhood development in Milan (Italy), Guayaquil (Ecuador), Ramallah (Palestine), and more. 
  • Support for climate action in refugee hosting areas in Amman (Jordan), Nyamagabe (Rwanda), and Nairobi (Kenya), and more. 
  • Support for countering discrimination and xenophobia in Nilüfer (Türkiye), Dallas (US), Terrassa (Spain), and more. 

Over the course of the week, mayors will participate in official sessions to share their policy expertise and on-the-ground experience. Mayors’ pledges will be announced in the GRF Plenary at 15:00 CET on 14 December 2023 (livestream here), and presented at the GRF High Level Event on Solidarity in Cities: Learning from Mayors on Refugee Inclusion in Urban Areas from 11:00-12:30 CET on 15 December 2023 (limited access zoom livestream). 
​​“Bristol, like many cities, is a proud City of Sanctuary but we need to have the opportunity to shape the national and international context in which we work” said Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, UK. “That’s why I co-founded the Mayors Migration Council and pledged to deliver the Global Compact on Refugees at the first Global Refugee Forum in 2019. Now, in 2023, global mayors are ready to deliver new pledges for refugees and call for greater investment in city-led solutions.” 

Despite the political commitment of local governments, municipal access to finance is a major barrier to local action for migrants and refugees, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where 90 percent ​​% of forcibly displaced people live. In 2022, only 1.2 percent of total international humanitarian assistance was given to local and national actors, including cities — the target was 25 percent. 

“To address the critical shortfall in funding for local action and model behavior for others to follow, the Mayors Migration Council is pledging to bring the Global Cities Fund for Migrants and Refugees to $50 million – starting with $25 million by 2025,” said Vittoria Zanuso Executive Director Mayors Migration Council. “Only through direct funding of city-led projects can we meet the scale of need for urban migrants and refugees to thrive.”   

Visit  and follow #RefugeeForum and #CitiesGRF on social media for more information.  

For press inquiries, contact Cynthia Nahhas, Communications Associate at the Mayors Migration Council, at  or +1 (917) 246-2586. 

About the Mayors Migration Council

The Mayors Migration Council (MMC) is a mayor-led coalition that accelerates ambitious global action on migration and displacement. With most of the world’s migrants and displaced people living in cities, our mission is to use the power of city-led diplomacy and action to create a world where urban migrants, displaced people, and receiving communities can thrive.  

To achieve our mission, we provide mayors with advocacy, coordination, and communications support to influence policy decisions at the national and international level, and connect city governments to the knowledge, technical, and financial resources they need to accelerate and scale local solutions. 

Created by mayors for mayors, we are a nimble team of political advisors and urban practitioners guided by a Leadership Board of global city leaders, including the Mayors of Amman, Bristol, Dhaka North, Freetown, Kampala, Milan, Montevideo, Montréal, and Zürich. As a Sponsored Project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, our work is made possible by philanthropic and government funders. 

To learn more visit or follow us on X, Facebook and LinkedIn

To learn more, please visit our website or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.      


Mayoral Delegation to the GRF
  • Yousef Al Shawarbeh, Mayor, Amman, Jordan 
  • Marvin Rees, Mayor, Bristol, United Kingdom  
  • Edwards Infante Lopez, Mayor, Carmen de la Legua, Peru 
  • Gilmar de Souza Borges, Mayor, Fundão, Portugal  
  • Sami Kanaan, Mayor, Geneva, Switzerland 
  • Eirini Papadaki, Deputy Mayor, Heraklion, Greece 
  • Uğur İbrahim Altay, Mayor, Konya, Türkiye 
  • Erias Lukwago, Lord Mayor, Kampala Capital City Authority, Uganda 
  • Sanya Kirk Fixer Wilson, Mayor, Koboko, Uganda  
  • Rosa Irene Urbina Castañeda, Mayor, Tapachula, Mexico
  • Flippo Mannino, Mayor, Lampedusa, Italy 
  • Hildebrand Niyomwungeri, Mayor, Nyamagabe, Rwanda  
  • Ron Nirenberg, Mayor, San Antonio, Texas, United States 
  • Corine Mauch, Mayor, Zürich, Switzerland

Biographies can be provided upon request.  


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