Migration and the Open City: the role of culture in enabling inclusive societies

Hall 4, Room D
Partner (s)
Global Alliance for Urban Crisis
World Bank
International Organization for Migration (IOM)
United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)
International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD)
Open Society Foundation

Migration is part of the DNA of cities. However, due to climate change, conflict, natural disasters and economic deprivation the increase and changes in migration flows taking place are likely to accelerate further. How this will change urbanization patterns globally is not yet fully understood.

Although migration and refugee laws and policies are developed at global and national levels, cities which are at the forefront of dealing with the day-to-day challenges generated by migration can maximize on the opportunities it creates for urban regeneration.

History shows that the diversity which characterizes “open cities” such as port cities along trade routes has enriched their culture and identity. Culturally diverse cities tend to be more innovative.

What adaptative strategies can be deployed to create tolerant and cohesive societies and an enabling environment for innovation, economic growth and the protection of human rights for all?

Drawing on the cultural diversity of cities, local governments can work with both civil society and the private sector to identify innovative and practical initiatives which result in better access to public space, housing and livelihood opportunities for all and improves governance to ensure the integration of diverse cultures, thereby maximizing the positive contribution of migration.

Significant and unplanned population influx leaves cities with acute challenges related to service delivery, provision of adequate and affordable housing, provision of livelihood opportunities, maintaining social cohesion, and ensuring a dignified living environment for all inhabitants.


This session explores how the New Urban Agenda can contribute to implementation of the Global Compacts for Refugees and Migration and promote achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by:

  • Exploring the challenges and opportunities presented by increasing migration flows on the shape of urbanization worldwide.
  • Discussing appropriate long term social, cultural, economic and spatial strategies to help cities transform their identities in response to growing diversity, thereby maximizing on the positive contribution of migration.
  • Facilitating the exchange of good practices in promoting inclusive cities and neighhorhoods which build social cohesion, foster economic regeneration and prosperity by leveraging the diversity generated by migration.
  • Exploring how cities and their urban systems can address the influx of migrants in both the developmental and humanitarian contexts as part of longer-term sustainable urbanization strategies.
Guiding Questions
  1. How is migration going to shape the future of urbanization?
  2. What makes cities successful in maximizing the positive contribution of migration, supporting more equal societies (SDG 10) and inclusive and sustainable cities (SDG 11)?
  3. What are some examples of innovative approaches where migrants have ownership and contribute to solutions to the challenges of urban diversity?
  4. What cultural, social, and economic factors contribute to successful inclusion and integration of migrants into host communities
  5. How can local governments and communities be supported in coping with the challenges of large-scale migration in crisis conditions?

Session Speakers