High-Level Conference "Promoting an Inclusive Urban Agenda for Refugees and Migrants"
UNESCO, the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation and the European Coalition of Cities against Racism (ECCAR) will convene on 22 November 2016 from 10am to 1pm in Athens, Greece, for a High-Level Conference on the theme “Welcoming Cities for Refugees: Promoting Inclusion and Protecting Rights”. The event aims to advance the debate on gaps in current responses to the situation of migrants and refugees in Europe and to enhance good governance initiatives at the city level.
The conference is linked to an ongoing partnership between UNESCO, the M.V. Vardinoyannis Foundation and ECCAR, launched last May. Drawing on ECCAR’s own commitment to an anti-racism welcoming culture, the initiative on “Welcoming Cities for Refugees” aims to promote a better understanding of current trends, approaches, obstacles and challenges and to empower municipal authorities and local governments to conceive and implement an inclusive urban agenda for refugees and migrants.
The Conference will be graced by H.E. President of the Hellenic Republic. The opening ceremony will feature Ms Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, Ms Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Ms. Odeta Nishani, First Lady of Albania and Ms. Andri Anastasiadis, First Lady of Cyprus.
It will be followed by two interactive panel sessions contrasting the the realities of refugee and migrants reception by cities in Greece and elsewhere with the participation of Mayors from Greece (Lesvos and Maroussi), UN dignitaries, experts and civil society representatives. This part will be introduced by Mr. Yannis Mouzalas, Alternate Minister of Immigration Policy of Greece, and the Right Honorable Adrianne Clarkson, former Governor of Canada.
On this occasion, Ms Irina Bokova will receive the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Award 2016.
An integral part of the conference is the press launch of the joint publication “Cities Welcoming Refugees and Migrants: Enhancing effective urban governance in an age of migration”. This publication, authored by the Global Migration Policy Associates, contains a thorough mapping and analysis of issues, drawing inter alia on responses by 21 ECCAR member cities to a relevant survey. The publication proposes a framework checklist of 12 main features of a welcoming agenda for refugees and migrants at the local level.
The following day on 23 November 2016 an Experts’ Meeting will take place. A group of experts, as well as UN, city and civil society representatives will discuss the preparation of an operational handbook for municipal authorities.