70th Session of the UN General Assembly Second Committee Agenda Item 21: Implementation of the Outcome of the UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat III) and Strengthening of UN-Habitat
Chair, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’d like to begin my intervention by welcoming the enhanced interactions between UN Habitat and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) over the past few years. We were pleased to welcome UN Habitat as an Observer to IOM at the IOM Council in November 2014, and were similarly glad to be represented at UN Habitat’s Governing Council earlier this year. We were honoured to have UN Habitat’s Deputy Executive Director – Dr. Kacyira – attend IOM’s International Dialogue on Migration which took place just last week, focusing on the theme of “Migrants and Cities”. Numerous mayors and local authorities’ representatives, Ministers, international organizations, NGOs, academia and private sector representatives joined a debate on the link between migration and cities and the role of local authorities in migration policy making.
We are delighted to contribute as a member of the UN Task Team on Habitat III, through which we co-lead the drafting of an issues paper on migration and refugees in urban areas, and co-moderated the Urban Dialogue on social cohesion and equity. IOM will convene an expert group meeting on migration to feed into the work of the Habitat III Policy Units. We look forward to discussing with the Habitat III Secretariat the final details thereof.
It is in that spirit of collaboration that we offer two points that we hope can be further reflected in the ongoing discussions on Habitat III.
First, the New Urban Agenda must recognize migration as a key driver of cities’ growth. In many parts of the world, migration is driving much of the increase in urbanization, making cities much more diverse places in which to live. In policy terms, this means that cities must plan for and manage the challenges of population growth and increased diversity of cities, and should include migrants in those processes.
A key lesson from our Migrants and Cities Conference was that cities can be important actors of migration governance and are well placed to play a central role in the planning and provision of policies on migration and urbanization. Participants also highlighted the role international organizations such as IOM have in assisting local authorities at the policy, research and operational levels. IOM launched at the Conference its 2015 World Migration Report on “Migrants and Cities: New Partnerships to Manage Mobility”. The report offers practical and constructive examples on how migration and migrants are shaping cities and how the life of migrants is shaped by cities, their people, organizations and rules.
Second, migrants must be recognized as a category of individuals with specific needs, but who can also be agents of development when policies are in place to protect their rights and empower their full participation. Migrants make significant, essential contributions to the economic, social and cultural development of their home and host societies. But challenges can and do arise, including when migrants face discrimination or xenophobia, or when they don’t have access to employment, housing or social services. There is an ongoing need for policies that promote migrants’ integration in local communities, and that combat the rise of discrimination, xenophobia and racism. And we learnt from last week’s Conference that local authorities, with their first-hand experience with migrants, can contribute significantly to changing the narrative and improving the national public perception of migration.
Habitat III is an opportunity to promote a new model of urban development that integrates all facets of sustainable development – of which migration is a key component.
We look forward to continuing our strengthened partnership towards Habitat III, and offer our support to all stakeholders in this respect.