Expert Meeting "Empowering cities to implement an inclusive urban agenda for refugees and migrants"
Within the framework of their ongoing partnership, UNESCO, the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation and the European Coalition of Cities against Racism (ECCAR) will convene an Expert Meeting on 23 November 2016 in Athens, Greece.
The purpose of the meeting is to better equip municipal authorities to address knowledge and capacity gaps in their responses to challenges generated by the reception of refugees and migrants.
Local governments are on the front lines in the reception of refugees and migrants. We know that migration today is markedly urban. Nearly half of the total population of international migrants (244 million worldwide in 2015) resides in ten highly urbanized, high-income countries, of which five are in Europe.
As centres of economic opportunity, education, culture and innovation, cities represent greater possibilities to access remunerative work, economic welfare, and social development. At the same time, it is in cities that many working migrants face sub-standard labour conditions, unstable employment, poor pay and lack of social protection, in addition to discrimination and xenophobic hostility. Women migrants are often faced with “triple discrimination” – as women, as unprotected workers, and as migrants.
A study was conducted by the partners and authored by the Global Migration Policy Associates entitled “Cities Welcoming Refugees and Migrants: Enhancing effective urban governance in an age of migration” for the purpose of providing a mapping of the situation with emphasis on Europe. Among others, it highlighted the diverse impact of inflows of refugees and asylum seekers on cities and pointed to housing, education and employment as the three biggest challenges in this respect.
Drawing on the findings of the study, the partners will discuss the preparation of a handbook intended to provide hands-on practical advice on the operationalization of a human rights-based and gender sensitive urban agenda welcoming refugees and migrants.
The meeting will be opened by Ms Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, and the Mayor of Athens. UN experts, representatives of local governments, civil society representatives and academics will feed into the ensuing debates which will be organized around specific chapters of the handbook.
The Experts’ Meeting will be preceded by a High-Level Conference on the same topic that will take place in the morning of 22 November 2016. The Conference will be graced by the H.E. Prokopis Pavlopoulos, President of the Hellenic Republic, in the presence of Ms Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, and Ms Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.