INTA launching a new programme on impacts on sustainable urban development of Mass migration & refugees: 

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INTA is launching a new programme to help cities to host refugees and migrants coming in large numbers. Cities seem to lack the time, the capacities and the means to cope with the great flow of newcomers in an appropriate and sustainable way. Common practices in planning cannot keep up with the rapid change and pressure that newcomers create on the urban system. Additionally, the emergency situation demands an equally urgent response in terms of urban infrastructure and social services. As a consequence the large influx of migrants leads to rethink the traditional ways of planning and introduces a new dimension to urban resilience.

Cities fulfill the role of both a hub for initial reception and transit as well as future anchors to settle down. In this dual function, cities have to manage integration processes simultaneously in the short, medium, and long term. However, expanding municipal services to a large population and without any additional resources overstrains the existing system that governs local housing and labour markets, as well as health and education systems. The challenge of the city is therefore to balance the needs expressed by the foreigners with those of the local people. However this is a rather difficult process since both groups have different priorities. The migrants urge for quick solutions regarding housing and integration issues, while the latter wants to maintain a high standard of living. The solution therefore must be found in temporary and highly flexible projects, which intertwine the urban question with the social one.

Cities that signal a political willingness to bear a part of the burden should be supported on all levels and fronts. As the former United Nations High Commissioner for refugees put it: “What happens in cities is not only important in itself, but it also works as a role model for the rest of the society.” It is in this sense that it is of great significance to make integration a success story for everybody. The urban concentration of refugees opens up a broad range of new opportunities to tackle well-known problems such as demographic changes or labour shortages. However, at the same time strict administrative processes and political grey zones are limiting the full potential of the refugees. For example, the transit camp approach helped cope with the influx of refugees on the move and relieved urban areas of potential impacts. But it also encouraged a temporal presence of refugees in the country, which freezes from the very beginning any approaches leading to new innovative solutions.

INTA, together with its members will look for innovative urbanism and social approaches in dealing with mass migration. In a first phase INTA is engaging European cities and local communities setting up reflection and benchmark that will lead to an international seminar which will be held on August 30-31, 2017 in Malmo, Sweden. Any member or urban stakeholder who would like to get involved is welcome to share their experience with the network.


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