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Displacement and Urban Growth: Evidence and Strategies for Sustainable Urban Development. Learning from Partnerships Between City Governments and Aid Partners

Corina Demottaz


date June 29, 2022 | 15:30 - 17:00
Multifunction Hall Room 3
JIPS - Joint Internal Displacement Profiling Service
Integrated Governance in Spatial Planning for a More Just, Green, and Healthy Urban Future
NE 123


Most refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are residing in urban settings rather than camps (ODI, 2015; IIED et al., 2021). Influxes of forcibly displaced people in cities pose multiple challenges, both at the onset of a crisis and as many displacement situations become increasingly protracted. Issues include tensions that might arise with the host or other communities, increased strain on urban systems and infrastructure, and IDPs’ integration in day-to-day city management practices. Although displaced communities often stay for longer, forced displacement is often viewed as a temporary challenge requiring a relief response with local authorities often relying on support from aid agencies – operating outside of local urban management and planning systems – to deliver essential services primarily to those displaced.

At the same time, cities provide opportunities for forcibly displaced people and offer conducive environments for finding durable solutions to displacement situations. Understanding displacement-affected communities’ needs and meaningfully engaging them in urban governance, development and solutions planning can also be a driver of positive transformation of cities towards more sustainable and inclusive urban futures. Many city leaders also speak about 'human mobility', to express the opportunities of evolution of societies rather than maintaining status quo.

Achieving such positive win-win situations for cities facing urban displacement requires critical changes in current response. Importantly, it requires evidence-based and joined-up humanitarian, development, and peace approaches that put local authorities and communities front and centre, and that align interventions with urban development plans. 

This networking event will connect city authorities and practitioners from UN agencies, civil society and other areas to discuss tangible approaches for collaboration towards achieving integrated and inclusive longer-term urban development in displacement contexts. Adopting an interactive and diversified format that encourages cross-context exchange and cooperation, the event will be structured as follows:

  • Keynote and spotlight presentations (25’) to share innovative and good practice approaches drawing on examples from the Middle East, Africa and the Americas, including urban profiling and the urban settlements approach, and to critically reflect on them.
  • ‘World café’ discussion (30’) whereby participants are assigned to ‘coffee tables’ (in-person/virtual) to each discuss critical questions around innovative solutions to building and strengthening partnerships, drawing on the approaches and reflections presented.
  • A concluding plenary and closing remark (35’) to consolidate key takeaways from each ‘coffee table’, and put them into the broader context of the discussions under the urban crisis track at the WUF11.


The overall aim of this networking event is to foster and strengthen collaboration between city authorities and with other response actors, by promoting effective approaches for evidence-based, integrated and inclusive responses to displacement in cities, that are anchored in local authority leadership and that support sustainable urban development. More specifically, the event will:

  • Promote replicable approaches and tools, along with actionable insights from their application in diverse urban displacement contexts, that city authorities and other response actors can utilise to generate a shared and nuanced understanding of urban displacement, and to better plan and coordinate joint efforts to address urban displacement
  • Inspire and inform enhanced practice on evidence-based and collaborative approaches across the humanitarian, development, peacebuilding nexus, with and through local authorities and displacement-affected communities

The interactive and diversified format adopted for this event will provide a platform for participants to connect perspectives and experiences from different contexts, and to harvest collective knowledge and concrete pathways that can help progress toward achieving the New Urban Agenda (incl. urban planning and development, governance) and the Sustainable Development Goals (incl. goal 1 on ending poverty, goal 10 on reduced inequalities, goal 11 on sustainable cities and communities, and goal 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies).

Session speakers

Mr. Filiep Decorte (tbc)
Secretary General
Global Alliance For Urban Crises
Ms. Sara Hoeflich
Learning Director
United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)
Ms. Corina Demottaz
Head of Knowledge Sharing & Communication
Ms. Louise Thaller
Urban planning and governance and planning specialist
Urban Settlements Working Group of the Global Shelter Cluster
Ms. Fatma Sahin (tbc)
Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality
Mr. Seki Hirano
Team lead shelter and settlement
CRS - Catholic Relief Services