JWP on Cities and Migration

The programme aims to enable partner cities, local governments, host communities and migrants to manage challenges and leverage opportunities arising from migration to cities in low-income countries for sustainable and inclusive development.

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With financial support of the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), the Cities Alliance has convened a Joint Work Programme (JWP) to enable partner cities, local governments, host communities and migrants to manage challenges and leverage opportunities arising from migration to cities in low-income countries for sustainable and inclusive development.

The programme will advance global thinking on the role and potential of cities in low-income countries to manage migration and tap into the opportunities arising from migration to and from secondary cities. It will also seek to encourage a positive narrative on urban migration, seeing migrants and host communities as contributors of local economic growth.  



The Cities and Migration Joint Work Programme aims to generate new knowledge, promote analytical and collaborative approaches to key urban issues, and improve urban practices and policies related to cities and migration. It also aspires to become a local, national, and international coordination platform, knowledge hub and think tank for advocating new thinking on migration.

The programme will have a strong gender component. Migration is a highly gendered process, with women, men, girls and boys experiencing different risks and vulnerabilities. The Joint Work Programme will examine the gendered differences of urban migration patterns and characteristics and build evidence-based knowledge designed to make urban migration safer and rewarding for both males and females. 

The programme is designed to help cities and countries contribute directly to global agendas, including Agenda 2030 and the Global Compact for Migration.

cities alliance


The JWP pursues its objectives through three interlinked approaches:


1. Generating policy-relevant data and knowledge 

This component aims to achieve a better understanding on the links between cities, migration, and development. Cities Alliance will build a body of research, policy-relevant data, and evaluations of existing approaches and policies from the local to the international level. This information will help bridge science with policies and advance effective practice on the ground. 

2. Facilitating partnerships and dialogues to advance practice and policy 

Cities Alliance will build on its core mandate of a convening membership organisation to strengthen or build new partnerships and dialogues across urban migration stakeholders at the local, national, regional and global levels. The goal is to build awareness, capacity and partnerships on how improved migration management can be leveraged for poverty reduction and sustainable development in cities.


3. Supporting pilots for evidence-based approaches and policies

The pilots aim to empower urban migration partners to understand the changes migration brings, and to shift from coping to adaptation strategies that maximise the opportunities migrants bring for sustainable urban development and poverty reduction.

Key lessons from the pilots will be disseminated at the local, national, and global level and directly influence operations of Cities Alliance’s Country Programmes.


The Cities and Migration Joint Work Programme will implement activities at the city and global levels. It will engage in nine pilot cities, with activities designed to benefit both migrants and host communities. While the activities are tailored to the needs and contexts of each city, they typically aim to:

      •   Build more evidence-based knowledge on urban migration; 
      •   Collaborate with local authorities, civil society and private sector to test approaches for improved              management of migration;  and 
      •   Establish space for dialogue among all stakeholders to discuss and address migration issues.

At the global level, the programme will produce several major knowledge products on local migration governance that aim to deliver credible, evidence-based messages to the global discussion on cities and migration. It will also promote the opportunity for secondary cities in low-income countries to share their experiences at the global level. 

The JWP’s activities are centred around four focus areas:

1. Cities and inclusive migration governance. Activities in this area aim to provide data on urban migrants, evidence-based knowledge products, and supported pilot initiatives that enable local authorities to advance the management of urban migration and integration of migrants and social cohesion. 

2. Cities and labour migration. For this area, activities seek to provide data, evidenced-based knowledge products, and supported pilot initiatives on labour migration to improve the capacity and mandate of local authorities and key support partners to receive, manage, and integrate labour migrants.

3. Cities and forced migration. Activities for this area aim to improve data and evidence-based knowledge products for improved management of urban crisis migration, as well as supporting pilot initiatives to demonstrate advanced approaches to migration crisis management. The goal is to help local authorities and key support partners build the capacity and mandate to receive, manage, and integrate involuntary migrants displaced by conflict or environmental shocks.

4. Global partnership and advocacy.  Activities in this area will facilitate cooperation and peer-learning among Cities Alliance members and partners. They will also support  global cooperation, partnership, and advocacy for safe, orderly and regular migration. 


With its diverse membership, the Cities Alliance is in a unique position to mobilise a range of stakeholders with different skills, expertise, and perspectives around the issue of cities and migration. Partners include:

          -   AVSI Foundation

          -   C40

          -   Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI)

          -   International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

          -   The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)

          -   Local community organisations and NGOs in partner cities

          -   Local governments of partner cities (11)    

          -   Metropolis

          -   Oxford University

          -   The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (Chair)

          -   UN-Habitat

          -   United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)

          -   United Cities and Local Governments Africa (UCLG-Africa)

          -   The World Bank