Cooperation of Local Authorities beyond Borders – The Case of Migration and Refugees

Workshop Session 2
October 7, 11:45 – 13:15, Venue: Neue Mälzerei/Kuppelsaal Nord
Language: English

Organisers and Speakers

Jochen Mattern, Project Manager, Sector Programme DeLoG, Coordinator Cluster Decentralisation

François Menguelé, Planning Officer, Good Governance and Human Rights

In many regions of the world, we are currently experiencing a displacement of people, families and entire communities of an unprecedented scale. According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, more people fled in 2014 than at any time since UNHCR record-keeping began, pushing the total number of forcibly displaced people globally to a staggering 59.5 million. The dual phenomenon of migration and refugees attests to the growing demand and aspiration for more democracy, freedom, better livelihoods, peace, safety and security. Yet, the magnitude, complexity and velocity of these demands have outpaced the response capacity of individual countries beyond the traditional welfare state governance paradigm.

This is why a growing number of individual countries have embarked on reforms aiming at transforming or modernising their governance regimes to allow subnational actors, especially local governments, to better play their crucial role in managing huge migration flows and providing basic services. These inclusive governance modalities span beyond the nation-state level to include supranational entities for regional integration (e.g. EU, AU, UEMOA, EAC) and regional associations of local authorities (e.g. Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, United Cities and Local Governments, AU High Council of Local Authorities, CCT-UEMOA). They are opening up new avenues and scope of action to decentralisation reforms which were so far nationally focused.

This applies to sending, transit or receiving countries and regions, and it is first and foremost local authorities that face the consequences of the migration and refugee crisis. Increasingly, local authorities are organising themselves in networks at national, regional and global levels and will play a significant role in implementing the SDGs. They advocate for a greater voice for themselves within regional integration policies and programmes. They also exchange views, practices and initiate joint projects and programmes across borders. Such initiatives bear the potential to increase their influence in making states more resilient to fragility as well as responsive, and accountable to people´s demands. Local authorities have become regional and global players whose contribution can make decentralisation efforts work.

Coinciding with these dynamics is the reaffirmed commitment of our commissioning parties, especially BMZ to address the refugee and migration phenomenon as a priority also within its on-going support to decentralisation reforms. Hence the overarching question is what role can local authorities play within the context of the current regional integration efforts and what are the capacity and resource requirements for them adding value to on-going efforts of nation-states and regional integration bodies?

Overall objective
To explore the role of local authorities in light of current migration and refuge-seeking trends and discuss challenges faced by technical cooperation programmes and reflect on what needs to be done to develop innovative approaches.

Expected outcomes/ specific objectives

to explore the regional, in-country and local-level (cross-border) ramifications of the migration and refuge-seeking phenomenon based on experiences and impressions of both bilateral and regional programmes from different regions

to discuss technical cooperation approaches to migration and refuge-seeking from a local governance perspective, using the continuum between sending, transit and receiving countries as analytical parameters

to gain insight into the experiences, challenges and perspectives of participating bilateral and regional programmes

to reflect on lessons learnt and discuss the way forward in terms of capacity development needs of partners

Guiding questions

How would you describe the refugee/ migration scenario in your country or region?

How are local authorities affected and what are the specific challenges faced by them?

What role can/ should national governments and regional integration bodies play?

Are there any approaches you may have tested or you consider testing within your programme?

Are there attempts to initiate and sustain cross-border cooperation between local authorities?

Which stakeholders do you presently cooperate with and who would you recommend to strengthen ties with in order to address migration and refuge-seeking?

What kind of backstopping/ input would you expect from GIZ headquarters?

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