The Migration Policy Institute is a partner and founding member of the Metropolis Project, an international forum for research and policy on migration, diversity, and changing cities.
Thesis and Rationale
The Metropolis Project's founding premise is that there are is common set of urgent migration-related issues that must receive systematic, comparative, and inter-disciplinary research and policy attention. These issues center on the effects of international migration on large urban centers. Most advanced industrial countries are struggling with developing strategic responses to these effects-both in terms of harnessing the benefits of migration and managing its challenges. Devising ways to address the resulting social and economic tensions and transformations more effectively is a critical public policy challenge that faces all advanced industrial societies, albeit with different intensity.
In its commitment to reflect the interests and priorities of all its partners, Metropolis offers a simple yet ambitious promise: to create a framework for the systematic analysis of the effects of immigration on some of our largest and most vibrant cities-and a process for assimilating the results of that analysis. These cities are simultaneously experiencing the interrelated effects of immense social and economic forces such as technological change, liberalized international trade, labor market restructuring, growing physical and social infrastructure needs, persistent fiscal difficulties, and increasing inequality. Most critically, perhaps, these forces are released in the midst of a brewing social and cultural crisis that for many Metropolis partners seems to challenge the very foundations of the social compact on which western social democracy rests. Metropolis addresses the effective incorporation of newcomers into their host societies. This is the fulcrum on which not only successful immigration programs are judged, but on which successful societies ultimately rest. Effective integration requires better understanding of two sets of issues: (a) the effects of immigration on local communities-including effects on local labor markets, disadvantaged and otherwise marginalized populations, and social and physical infrastructure; and (b) how immigrants and their children become incorporated into societies and relate to other social groups during the process of incorporation-emphasizing processes and mechanisms that work.
Metropolis is intended to serve as a vehicle for identifying a set of coherent responses to one dimension of international migration's most elusive effects: those on the receiving societies' largest cities, where most immigrants concentrate. While the Metropolis partners recognize that policy responses are not easily transferable across different political and socio-cultural settings, they believe strongly that elements of such strategies and, more generally, "best practice" techniques, can be exchanged to mutual benefit. Success in this effort would in turn lay the foundation not only for more thoughtful and measured responses to immigration, but also for the more successful pursuit of the associated public policy goals of successful immigrant integration and, more generally, "good governance" and social peace.
In establishing this multi-country approach to international migration issues, Metropolis hopes to provide policy makers at all levels of government, as well as community leaders, with solid information on which to anchor their policy ideas; and to develop an international inventory of "best practices" that identifies the most effective solutions to the many practical problems that face all countries that have significant numbers of foreign-born persons in their large urban centers. On that basis, Metropolis is expected to become a premier medium for the systematic development, exchange, and dissemination of research and policy information among partner countries, focusing on practical solutions to the more intractable challenges typically associated with international migration.
In order to facilitate the international exchange of information on common issues of interests, the Metropolis Project convenes an annual conference where researchers, policy-makers and practitioners meet and share ideas, analyze and compare research findings, and discuss the policy challenges and implications of their work. Each annual conference also includes extensive organized visits with municipal officials and hands-on stakeholders. This innovation offers Metropolis partners an opportunity to critically engage the conference hosts, and each other, around particular models of integration and ethnic relations.
In addition, the Metropolis Project organizes a variety of inter-conference seminars and workshops where sub-groups of interested policy makers and researchers can plan research projects, discuss and evaluate the results of highly focused research, or otherwise engage in intensive dialogue. Work that has advanced far enough to allow for greater in-depth discussion between the broader community of policy-makers, researchers, and other stakeholders who attend the annual conference have the opportunity to highlight their findings there.
For more information, please visit the Metropolis International web site.
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