Insights from the World Migration Report 2024: The Importance of City Leadership in Migration Management

This week, the UN’s International Organization for Migration released its World Migration Report 2024, which provides comprehensive data and insights into global migration trends to help readers understand current and changing migration dynamics around the world.

What the Report Says

The report details that over the past two years, significant migration and displacement events, including conflicts and climate-related disasters, have caused widespread hardship and loss of life worldwide. Additionally, there has been a notable increase in the politicization of migration, particularly in democratic systems like Europe, where anti-immigration sentiment has influenced national election outcomes and public discourse.

But There is Some Good News Too

The report also points to a bright spot: the effective management of migration by city leaders, which creates mutually beneficial opportunities for both the cities and migrants:

“Within States, local and regional governments are increasingly influential in shaping the global migration agenda, collaborating to create the narratives that sustain it. Cities have become central actors in the global discussions on migration, which reflects the fact that their cooperation and activities directly affect the lives of migrants who live in urban areas. For example, the Mayors Migration Council has played a central role in discussions around climate governance, reception and integration. In addition to global, national and local migration governance, transgovernance across levels is emerging in many States, where actors move from one level of governance to another in order to push for their interests or ensure that their interests are protected.”

IOM Emphasizes the Importance of City Leaders in Migration Policy

The report also notes that “although migration policies are often conceived at the national level, they are often implemented in a decentralized manner. In some systems, it is the subnational level that both sets and implements aspects of migration policy. More commonly, it is local level authorities (particularly city or municipality authorities) that are responsible for the provision of services to migrants, a key aspect for the security and well-being of migrant communities.”

Highlighting Additional Areas Where City Leaders Can Make a Difference

The report also highlights a number of areas where additional research and policies could aid cities in managing migration:

  • “Research has focused more on understanding how migration and environmental change relates to climate assessments at the origin of the migrating communities, and less on the receiving communities. Research on migration from Zimbabwe to South African cities suggests that migrants face a high level of malnutrition upon arrival, associated with the difficulties of accessing regular income and the opposition of receiving communities to their presence, often resulting in limited access to regular income. These scenarios raise key questions for further research to understand how rapidly growing cities can feed their populations, including those affected by climate hazards
  • “Policies are also needed to protect migrant communities and promote the fulfilment of their human rights, both while in transit and once they arrive at their destinations. As in-country rural to urban migration compounds with international migration to urban centres, the expansion of safe housing will continue to be a focus of new policies.”
  • “Without adequate adaptation interventions and urban planning, the infrastructure of urban centres receiving climate-related migrants will also be at increased and compounding risk, including the risk of failure in the face of sudden-onset disasters. This is due to increased exposure to climatic events in these urban areas, but also due to low adaptive capacity in place (for example, in expanding informal settlements in risk-prone urban areas). Migrants arriving in coastal cities may be vulnerable to rising sea levels. Different large urban centres are already exposed to water scarcity, a situation that can only worsen without adaptative action as water demand rises in line with the arrival of new migrants and with increasing climate change impacts.”

Find Out More

Want to know more about what city leaders are doing to effectively manage migration?

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