Local and Regional Governments talk Migration at HLPF 2021

Local and Regional Governments talk Migration at HLPF 2021

During the High Level Political Forum (HLPF), from 6 to 15 July, local and regional governments (LRGs) reiterated their commitments towards rebalancing the narrative on migration and implementing local actions towards rights-based migration governance, as a keystone to advancing forth on the 2030 Agenda. The Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments (GTF) recalled that the Global Compacts on Migration and on Refugees (GCM-GCR) are critical roadmaps to achieve the 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Migration is intersectional to all global agendas, including climate change. On HLPF Day 1, cities showcased their commitment to address this intersectionality, at the multipartner official HLPF Side Event on Climate and Human Mobility: Working with Mayors to Advance SDGs 10 and 13, where local and national governments collectively reflected towards mitigating the impacts of climate change on human mobility.

With the commencement of the HLPF 2021, July 6 also marked the onset of the Local Government Takeover of the It Takes a Community campaign, by the GFMD Ad Hoc Working Group on Public Narratives on Migration, a multi-stakeholder initiative to promote a balanced and evidence-based public narrative on migration. From July 6 - 15, the Local Governments of Dublin, Mechelen, Palmerston North, Whanganui and others helmed the social media campaign, sharing positive accounts of migration in their territories and local actions towards the global migration goals.

The meeting of the Global Taskforce of local and regional governments, which was the starting point of the local governments’ delegation at the HLPF, had Vittoria Zanuso, Executive Director, Mayors Migration Council (MMC), reiterate the linkages between the Global Compact on Migration and the SDGs, and called on all networks of local and regional governments to ensure better financing for local and regional governments to respond to the needs of all citizens, regardless of migration status. 

As part of the campaign’s LRG takeover, the GFMD Mayors Mechanism also organised on July 9, The Power of Migration Narratives, an interactive national-local dialogue between David Hickey from the Government of Canada and Nadia Bastien from the Government of Montreal, hosted by Emilia Saiz, UCLG Secretary General. The conversation spotlighted Canada and Montreal’s respective #ImmigrationMatters and Closed Doors campaigns aimed at promoting a positive narrative on migration through a human-rights and equity-based approach, raising awareness on issues faced by migrant populations and the contributions of these efforts towards the global goals.

Migration builds communities and hence must be perceived as natural. We must make our narrative on migration positive and personal, to garner a collective resultEmilia Saiz, UCLG Secretary General.

The Montreal 2030 strategic plan places human rights and equity at the centre of every decision; such formal commitments are crucial to shift the narrative on migrationNadia Bastien, Director of the Office of Diversity and Social Inclusion, City of Montreal.

Our intent is to reinforce not how immigrants succeed, but how communities succeed from immigration” David Hickey, Director General, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Government of Canada.

At the LRG Day session of July 9, Julian Pfaefflin, Senior Policy Specialist from IOM reiterated the Call to Local Action by UCLG, IOM and the GFMD Mayors Mechanism to emphasise the important role of LRGs in multilateral migration governance and asserted local actions as key contributors to the SDG target 10.7 on facilitating orderly, safe, and responsible migration and human mobility, which forms the crux of the GCM.

At the LRG Forum of July 12-13, LRGs reiterated their organised commitment towards the localization of the GCM-GCR with all universal development agendas. In this regard, the Joint HLPF Statement by the Global Taskforce Joint constituency of LRGs and the HLPF Statement of the United Nations Network on Migration (UNNM) appealed to UN Member States for a Whole of Government and Society dialogue, reporting and coordination towards the Global Goals and an uninterrupted support in ensuring equitable, inclusive and fair healthcare and human rights protection to all, regardless of migration status.

Showcasing local action on migration

Concurrently, the 5th “Towards the Localisation of SDGs” report, facilitated by the Global Taskforce, also showcased migrant and refugee-inclusive local practices, particularily towards SDG Goal 10 on reducing inequalities, in the cities of Rabat, Barranquilla, Ouagadougou and others.

Further practices towards local migration governance, with an emphasis on the SDG 10, by the cities of Espoo, Turku, Scotland, Bristol, Mannheim, Ghent, Basque Country and Hamamatsu and particularly Los Angeles, New York City, Helsinki and Barcelona towards the SDG target 10.7 on facilitating orderly, safe, and responsible migration, were reported in the Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, in close connection with Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). 

Beyond SDG 10.7, the Voluntary Local - Subnational Review (VLR-VSR) Days events from July 14-16 showcased local progress on further migration-related SDG targets, as urged by the UNNM-Group of Friends on migration (GoF) HLPF Side Event VNR Lab on Migration. Significant migrant and refugee-inclusive contributions towards SDG 4 - universal access to education, SDG 8 - decent work, SDG 11 - inclusive and sustainable cities and SDG 16 - peace, justice and strong institutions, were reported in the cities of Pittsburgh, Ciudad Valles, São Paulo, Taipei City and Guangzhou. 

Helsinki-Finland, Uruguay-Montevideo, Sweden-Uppsala, Germany-Mannheim and Spain-Barcelona are also exhibiting a national-local synergy and policy coherence towards addressing Migration with the 2030 agenda. Bristol and Mannheim are also fostering migrant participation in their city vision and strategies. 

These contributions towards the recognition, inclusion and care of migrant populations, also by Grenoble, Barcelona, Valencia, Sousse and Seine Saint-Denis, as spotlighted in the MC2CM Peer Learning Note on Local Citizenship and Migration, reiterate the commitment of LRGs towards making cities and communities inclusive for all.