Cities Need Financing to Manage Climate-Related Migration

The 2021 UN Climate Change Conference COP26 has to devote more attention to the largely neglected nexus of climate change and migration and better support the actors addressing it – especially municipal governments. An opinion piece by Raphaela Schweiger, program director in the field of migration at the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

Raphaela Schweiger | November 2021
Migration in afrikanische Städte
stock.adobe.com / Anze

City leaders are on the frontline of many issues as they strive to build inclusive societies. They are also battling the realities of the interlinkages between climate change and migration. This includes to increase the resilience of urban residents in the face of climate hazards, to ensure the protection and inclusion of people who move into cities, including due to climate displacement, and to lead a green and just recovery from Covid-19 as well as a climate transition for and in partnership with migrants and affected communities. This is not an easy task.

Luckily, mayors and local stakeholders are stepping forward with good ideas, established practices and concrete policy recommendations. Cities are proving they can develop inclusive solutions at local level and contribute to sustainable policymaking internationally. At the level of international city diplomacy, their efforts are spearheaded by the Mayors Migration Council (MMC), a mayor-led organization to influence global responses on migration and displacement, in collaboration with C40 Cities Leadership Group (C40 Cities), a network of 96 cities (with 700 million inhabitants) that are committed to urgent action on climate change.

Raphaela Schweiger
Michael Fuchs

About the author

Raphaela Schweiger is program director in the field of migration at the Robert Bosch Stiftung. The Foundation's objective is to help shape migration policy, governance and practice through far-sighted, inclusive approaches that center around human dignity as a guiding principle.

Recognizing the urgent need to build practical knowledge on this frontier policy space, in June 2021, the MMC and C40 Cities launched the C40-MMC Global Mayors Task Force on Climate and Migration, guided by the mayors of Barcelona, Bristol, Dakar, Dhaka North, Freetown, Houston, Los Angeles, Lima, and Milan. The C40-MMC Task Force recently published ten key principles to accelerate local, national, regional, and global responses to the climate crisis and human mobility in cities. And at COP26, the C40-MMC Task Force announced a forward-looking Action Agenda on the topic. Recognizing that the climate crisis disproportionately impacts migrants, displaced people and other vulnerable and marginalized groups, its core principles promote inclusive and equitable climate action, encourage cities to lead by example and advocate for direct funding for municipalities.

To support this vision, the Robert Bosch Stiftung at COP26 announced a new $1,000,000 USD contribution to launch a new chapter of the Global Cities Fund (GCF). Starting 2022, the Global Cities Fund for Inclusive Climate Action in African Cities, spearheaded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the MMC in partnership with C40 Cities, will support city-led projects that promote inclusive climate action in collaboration with local migrant-led partners in African cities.

Our hope is that this initiative will encourage governments and philanthropic funders to join us and do more for cities, their residents and those affected by climate change. There are no quick, one-size-fits-all solutions, only multi-pronged approaches that put people at the center of climate action. It is time to give cities the attention and the financial resources to make climate-induced migration humane and sustainable.

This will pay dividends as cities can contribute a great deal to fighting climate change. Cities are building knowledge for inclusive climate adaptation mechanisms, they are innovators in search of new, inclusive solutions, they are willing and able to take collective action across regions and continents.

In Dakar, Senegal, for example, the city government wants to establish a city migration policy, and work with migrant and youth groups to promote a more inclusive and greener economy within the city. The city government of Lagos, Nigeria, is aiming to establish a new Lagos Social Support Office to connect those displaced from rural areas of West Africa due to the climate crisis with existing relief and social support programs throughout the city. Mayors are already stepping in to help their most marginalized communities, but they do not have to face this alone.