Cities on the Frontline Speaker Series
#19 – Migration and Resilience, the MOVE book
Historically, migration has been an intrinsic part of how humans navigate the world, however, skewed perceptions and misinformation have shed a negative light on the topic resulting in abrasive migration policies around the world. While migration may present certain challenges, it has also proven to be, not only important to the development of communities, but essential.
In the framework of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), this 19th session of Cities on the Frontline, jointly organized by Resilient Cities Network and the World Bank, “Migration and Resilience”, with a special look into book ‘MOVE: the forces uprooting us’ by Parag Khanna, focused on the inevitability and the necessity of migration by discussing its history, its current challenges exacerbated by the pandemic and its future as a key component to building a more resilient and sustainable future.
Parag Khanna, Author of the MOVE book and other bestselling books, Managing Partner at FutureMap, Strategic Advisor to Governments and Global Companies, and TED Speaker, opened the conversation by acknowledging the devastating effects that climate change has and will have on our planet including worsening climate risks such as floods, droughts and sea level rise. This impact, he says, will be a big driver for human migration as people find the need to move in search of areas with greater suitability for habitation. While there are a lot of actions and investment towards mitigation of global warming, Parag highlights the need to also give adaptation measures such as infrastructural adaptation and climate migration the same importance since adaptation has become urgent with a significant part of the world population already being displaced. Climate migration in particular, Parag says, will be one of the principal mechanisms to adapt to climate change, however he warns that there will be a lot of challenges in the future including boarder restrictions, bans and a lack of a common global approach. Therefore, in order to thrive moving forward, civilization must start reconciling the layers of geography of resources with the geographies of people of boarders and of infrastructure, all of which are currently very misaligned. As a final note, Parag stated that, while we may attempt to predict how people will move and what areas will be more suitable in the future, climate is becoming more volatile and systems are becoming more complex and as a consequence we cannot be certain about any place. It is therefore important that we focus efforts not only on mobility of people but on the mobility of civilizations and habitats as a whole.
David Groisman, Chief Resilience Officer and Director of Management Exchange at the Government of Buenos Aires (Argentina) complemented Parag´s presentation by sharing the perspective of an acting city on the topic of migration. David explained that Argentina and more specifically Buenos Aires’s cultural identity has been shaped by migration as Spanish and Italian migrants that were fleeing famine arrived in the country in the 90´s. Buenos Aires therefore, has developed an open-door policy promoting international migration and welcoming people from around the world. Revisiting Buenos Aires’ history, we understant that migration is not something new, however as David pointed out, the impact of migration on receiving countries has shifted and increased due to changes in demographics of migrants, including their place of origin, family composition, job qualification and academic levels. However, even when there are impacts to take into consideration, David assured that migration can also be understood as an economic stimulus since migrants can improve productivity levels, increase innovation and create a growth in wealth. Buenos Aires therefore has taken important initiatives to create incentives for migration offering migrants opportunities to access a good quality of life and providing important tools for their success in the new country. Some of the initiatives David shared included creating incentives for international students and digital nomads, record investments in public works with quality of life at the center of urban planning, adaptations of ID requirements to allow access to basic necessities such as health, education and transportation, among others. David finally concluded that migration is not so much a problem but a reality that needs to be managed. Buenos Aires sees their future challenges aimed at thinking about comprehensive solutions in a resilient way that allow them to better prepare to process the impact of the arrival of new migrants understanding that a enabling a good integration and social participation could lead to a flourishing city that is a well-oiled machine for development and growth.
Author of the MOVE book and other bestselling books, Managing Partner at FutureMap, Strategic Advisor to Governments and Global Companies, and TED Speaker
“We need to put a lot of deep thought into reconciling layers of geography. Geographies of resources, geographies of people, geographies of boarders are terribly misaligned today.”
Parag Khanna’s Presentation
Chief Resilience Officer and Director of Management Exchange at the Government of Buenos Aires (Argentina)
“Experience of other cities in the world has shown us that migration is not so much a problem to be solved but a reality that must be managed. Our future challenges are aimed at thinking about comprehensive solutions in resilient way that allow us prepare ourselves to process the impact of arrival of new migrants working on integration and social participation of migrants as well as providing access to city service allows for the transformation of diversity and interculturality into a machine of development and growth.”