UNESCO Social and Human Sciences
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An International Forum for Research and Policy on Migration and Cities

Contemporary international migration is a powerful and inescapable agent of social change that affects virtually every domain of civic and private life. Overwhelmingly, the major impact of migration has been on cities. Large cities have always been the focal point of social, demographic and ethnic transformations, transformations that are invariably changing the broader society. Greater ethnic, cultural, religious and social diversity is leading to more complex interactions between migrants and the host population, as well as among migrant communities. Innovation and creativity are needed to understand the full effects of migration, to meet successfully its challenges, to capitalize on the opportunities it presents, and to moderate the tensions it produces.

Given the importance of migration, the body of related research is surprisingly small, not spatially-focused and not "client-centred". It provides an inadequate platform for policy development. National idiosyncrasies tend to mask the many similarities on how immigration is transforming urban systems. Understanding better how immigration affects global cities in the advanced industrial world offers the most appropriate analytical platform from which to understand immigration's impact on our societies. International comparative research is needed to deepen our understanding of migration across social, cultural and economic settings and to create a menu of practical policies for national and international decision-making. Over and above that, what is needed is an intellectual engine built for the purpose of problem solving: a network of researchers and decision-makers involving governments and stakeholders in project problem definition and design.

Metropolis is that intellectual engine: a cooperative, international research and policy platform created to examine immigrant integration and the effects of international migration on urban centres.

The project aims to:

  • Integrate research more systematically into policy development by creating an active network of researchers and decision makers and developing innovative and practical approaches to the exchange of ideas between the two.

  • Make existing information on which to anchor policy ideas and programmes available to all levels of government, community organizations and business.

  • Serve as a think-tank, a clearing house, and a coordination centre for internationally comparative research projects, including the active lobby and support for adequate access to relevant statistical and survey datasets.

  • Develop an inventory of "best international practices", identifying the most effective responses to the many practical challenges that face all countries which have significant numbers of migrants entering their large urban centres.

Metropolis is a loose partnership involving governments, research institutes and international agencies. The membership includes public and private institutions from Canada, the United States, Argentina, New Zealand, Israel, Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, and Austria. In addition the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (a Washington-based think tank that specializes in policy research), the Migration Policy Group (MPG, a NGO based in Brussels), the European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations (ERCOMER, an academic research institute - housing a documentation and database centre EDCOMER - based at Utrecht University), the OECD, UNESCO and the EC. The intent is to broaden this partnership circle to include Australia, and other Southern European countries.

Metropolis is trying to develop the principle of networking as a major way of creating a synergy between the research and the policy-making communities. As a network including both governmental as well as academic partners Metropolis is ideally suited to create synergy between already existing networks dealing with similar topics but usually from either a research or a policymaking perspective.

Two research networks that Metropolis has already established productive links with are the Thematic Network on Migrants and Minorities in European Cities (Mig-Cities) and the Multicultural Policies and Modes of Citizenship in European Cities network. The first was launched in the spring of 1996 as a grouping of research teams from eight European countries, co-ordinated by ERCOMER, and funded under the TSER program of the European Commission. The second network is supported under the UNESCO MOST program, has a Steering Committee comprised of seven senior researchers, collaborators in 10 countries, and is co-ordinated by the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations at the University of Warwick (UK).

At present Metropolis is investigating possibilities of collaboration with a policy network called the LIA program (Local Integration/Partnership Action). LIA's main aim is to identify and promote local projects which demonstrate and exemplify good practice in the full integration and advancement of migrant and ethnic minority communities in the public and economic life of their towns. LIA has been conceived and developed by 3 European networks of towns, namely, ELAINE, EUROCITIES and QUARTIERS EN CRISE.

Contact Information

Metropolis International North America
Citizenship and Immigration Canada/Citoyenneté et Immigration Canada (CIC)
365 Laurier WestJournal Tower South C-1839
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1Ll
Tel: +1 613 957 5983
Fax: +1 613 957 5968
E-mail: howard.duncan@9522apx.cina.cic.x400.gc.ca

Metropolis International Europe
European Research Centre On Migration and Ethnic Relations (ERCOMER)
Heidelberglaan 2
3584 CS Utrecht
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 30 2534722
Fax: +31 30 2539280
E-mail: r.henke@fss.uu.nl

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