Sometimes it seems that the world lurches from one knee-jerk reaction to another when it comes to migration issues. Political statements, social media commentary, public demonstrations; they batter about opinions, both for and against, often in reaction to an event that involving immigrants or refugees.
Luckily there is also real, measured research and deep thinking about the international movement of people. The Hague recently hosted the International Metropolis Conference 2017 that brought together researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers to share experience, knowledge and analyses on global mobility.
The Metropolis Project is the largest international network of individuals in the field of migration, integration and diversity issues. In a world that is increasingly characterised by the movement of people, there is an urgent need to identify, understand and respond to developments based on measures understanding. At the yearly conferences, discussion among stakeholders draws out best practices, lessons learned and generates advice of lasting value.
The Metropolis conference moves to a different city every year. It is relevant that this conference was hosted in The Hague, where Alderman Baldwesingh explained that 54% of the population has a migrant background. This is a multicultural city that has had recent integration successes. For example, contrary to national trends, the city re-established job centres in low-income neighbourhoods, thereby lowering youth unemployment by 40%.
Many participants said that they enjoyed this Dutch edition. Not only was it well organised, but more importantly, the Dutch hosts enabled frank and occasionally confrontational dialogue. Given the current world-wide tendency toward divisive public debates on complex issues, it is vital that we find time and space for open dialogue, sharing of ideas and respectful debate. Next year, the dialogue continues, in Sydney, Australia.
For more information go to the websites https://www.metropolisthehague.org/
By Diane Lemieux
Photocredit: Nathalie Nuiten