Pandemic Response Statement

22 by 2022: A Call to Action

The Global Cities Fund for Inclusive Pandemic Response is the Mayors Migration Council’s response to the unmet resource needs of city governments in providing for migrants, refugees, and internally displaced people (IDPs) during Covid-19. We call on international actors focused on migration and displacement to work with the MMC and its partners to provide at least 22 cities with the financial support they need to realize smart and inclusive projects by the end of 2022.

With over 95 percent of reported Covid-19 cases having occurred in urban areas, cities have been most impacted by the pandemic and remain the front lines of our global recovery. While the crisis has affected all people and aspects of society, it has presented unique challenges to urban migrants, refugees, and internally displaced people (IDPs) due to their legal and migration status, their reliance on informal employment, and their restricted access to public health services and benefits. Their experiences are complicated by language and cultural barriers, xenophobia, racism, and discrimination.

In the face of these challenges, mayors and city governments from all over the world have shown leadership in responding to the needs of their migrant and displaced communities during the height of the crisis, especially where national governments have stepped back. But while local leaders are shaping powerful, innovative, and inclusive responses to meet the needs of their communities—such as equal access to Covid-19 testing, direct cash assistance regardless of status, or water and sanitation services in underserved neighborhoods—their needs far exceed their current resources. 

The economic devastation has led to dire budget shortfalls and lost revenue among city governments, with estimates of up to 25 percent in losses globally in 2021 alone, curtailing their ability to deliver critical services and economic opportunity to all of their residents, especially those who need it most. In a January 2021 survey conducted by United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and its partners, 33 municipal finance officials in 22 countries across all continents reported already seeing a 10 percent decrease in their overall revenue and around a five percent increase in expenditure. This “scissors effect” of local government revenue and expenditure will be most felt in cities in developing countries. African cities, for example, could potentially lose up to 65 percent of their revenue in 2021.

While countless cities are being asked to do more with less, there is an inefficiency in the market for international humanitarian and development funding. The majority of investments are directed to international NGOs or intergovernmental agencies, while city governments are often left on the side lines of responses to migration and displacement within their own cities, leaving their potential unrealized. This creates parallel service delivery structures that target migrant and displaced populations in silos and separately from receiving communities, creating competition among different marginalized groups and missing the opportunity to build local capacity in service delivery. 

To meet the charge from cities, the MMC and its strategic partners collectively call on international actors focused on migration and displacement to work with the MMC to provide at least 22 cities to receive direct financial support to implement their projects focused on migrant, refugee, and IDP inclusion by the end of 2022: 22 by 2022. 

The Global Cities Fund Project Prospectus is a tool to help us collectively achieve this goal.  It puts forward over 20 locally led projects from 18 countries with the potential to directly serve over 138,000 migrants, refugees, IDPs, and marginalized receiving communities. With resources channeled through the Fund, these projects are ready for the investment of donors and the partnership of humanitarian and development practitioners active within these cities. In total, these projects put forward inclusive plans, policies, and programs valued at $10,500,000 USD, with millions more dollars offered in-kind by the implementing city governments to ensure their success and sustainability.  

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