Earlier this month, The Hague Academy organised a new open training course on the topic of Migration and Local Governance. With record levels of migrants and displaced people confronting communities in a number of countries, new challenges have arisen for local governments. Innovative approaches are required in many areas, such as local service delivery, labour market policies and urban planning. This training course introduced the participants to a framework on how local governments can manage these challenges.

The training attempted to link the international context of migration and displacement to the practical reality of local governance. Therefore, the training began with an introduction to the international legal and institutional framework for refugees, migrants & local authorities. The rest of the training focussed more on the practice of local governance, based on experiences form around the world, including Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Uganda, as well as Europe.

There was a clear focus on four key themes in the programme. The first of these was maintaining social cohesion. Since a sudden influx of large numbers of migrants and displaced people can have very disruptive social effects, it is critical that local governments take measures to stimulate integration and social cohesion in the community. Secondly, the training emphasized the importance of urban planning. Expert Jaap Gräber explained how refugees and migrants have created a new wave of urbanisation, which poses a new challenge for local governments. This requires local governments to plan ahead to anticipate future developments. Thirdly, the training discussed the importance of job creation and economic empowerment of migrants and displaced people. The final key theme in the training was making local service delivery more inclusive of migrants and refugees. The training discussed how the existing services can be adapted, but also which new services need to be created that are specifically targeted at migrants and refugees. The practice oriented character of the programme also manifested itself in an extensive discussion where the participants shared their own experiences and made plans on how to implement their gained knowledge in their work.

The training had contributions from experts with an academic background, as well as from experts who are working in the field themselves. This provided the participants with a good mix between theory and practice. The group of participants was diverse as well. It included participants from international organisations and NGOs, as well as representatives of national governments. This led to a rich debate reflecting the wide variety of experiences of the participants including the challenges regarding internally displaced people in Somalia, urban solutions for refugees in Turkey, the specific situation facing Thailand in protecting protect Rohingya refugees and the challenges in camp management faced by the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.