This interview has been produced as part of the fourth CMI Urban Hub Newsletter on Territorial and City Development and especially its “spotlight” section on urbanization & migration.
Brigitte Hoermann joined the Cities Alliance Secretariat hosted by UNOPS in July 2018. She is responsible for mainstreaming migration into Cities Alliance operations and providing technical advisory services to the Joint Work Program on Cities and Migration. She has 12 years of professional experience, with a focus on labor migration in both rural and urban areas in Asia. This experience built her knowledge of the challenges and opportunities of facilitating a supportive framework for migrants, their families, and receiving destinations as well as to mainstream migration across development programs. She holds a PhD in economic and social sciences and a Masters’ by Research on international development. She worked on the migration–development nexus as a researcher, practitioner, and grants manager of a USD 17 million migration program in Myanmar for UNOPS. She also worked for several years for the intergovernmental knowledge center for the Hindu-Kush Himalayan region which pioneers collaborative, comparative and interdisciplinary action research among its eight-member countries.
CMI: Why is a focus on the migration-urbanization nexus relevant today?
Over the past six decades, urbanization has increased at unprecedented rates. In 1950, more than 70 per cent of people worldwide lived in rural settlements and less than 30 per cent in urban settlements. As of 2018, 55 per cent of the world’s population is urban (according to United Nations figures). The urban population is expected to continue to grow, with projections that 33 per cent of the world’s population will live in rural and 67 per cent in urban areas by 2050.
Urbanization and migration are important and closely interconnected demographic processes. With an estimated one billion people on the move, migration contributes substantially to the high rates of urbanization observed today.
CMI: What are the most pressing issues at stake?
It is expected that almost all the growth in the world’s population over the next few decades will take place in urban centers in low- and middle-income countries. This is particularly challenging due to existing high poverty rates and deficits in the provision of basic services. The result is that the bulk of urban growth is informal and unplanned, leaving poor residents, migrants and their families with limited access to the full range of resources, services and opportunities that cities can offer, including formal housing, employment, health care, education and social support systems. Failed planning and management of migration inflows can lead to tensions between new migrants and the existing, settled population over access to services, socio-economic opportunities and cultural practices.
CMI: What are the main actions that Cities Alliance's new joint work program would carry out and what are the expected results?
Cities Alliance manages and delivers its work programs through operational country/city windows and a normative global window: (i) Country Programs are implemented in partnership with national and sub-national governments and operationalized through Cities Alliance members and partner organizations active in the country; (ii) The global window has four thematic lenses: equitable economic growth, gender, resilience and migration.
The overall objective of the new joint work program on cities and migration is to enable partner cities, local governments, host communities and migrants to manage challenges linked to migration and unlock its potential at the place of destination and origin of migrants through the generation of new knowledge as well as analytical and collaborative approaches.
In order to achieve an improved understanding on the interlinkages of cities, migration, and development, the Cities Alliance will build a body of research, policy-relevant data, and evaluations of existing approaches and policies from local to international level to bridge science with policies and advance effective practice on the ground. Based on improved knowledge and strengthened partnerships, the Cities Alliance will support pilots to advance practice. Pilots are designed in the spirit of action research, which is conducted by and for those who seek to implement evidence-based, improved or new practices. Key lessons from these pilots will be disseminated at the local, national, and global level and directly influence operations of Cities Alliance’s extensive Country/City Programs.