SSI was honoured last November to be invited to join the committee of the International Metropolis Conference (IMC) after we participated in the event for the first time in Milan. Metropolis has a global network of 68 partner organisations in 23 countries. The network is composed of universities, think tanks, governments, service provider agencies and international organisations that work to enhance Metropolis’ collaborative approach on bridging research, policy and practice on migration and diversity.
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis at the International Metropolis Conference.
Members of the IMC include the European Commission, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Swiss Red Cross and UNESCO. Metropolis aims to encourage the production and effective communication of policy-related knowledge among decision makers, thought leaders and practitioners. A key way of achieving this is through the annual International Metropolis Conference that sees a large gathering of experts from academia, government and civil society come together to discuss migration, social integration and diversity. With direct links to the UN, politicians, government department heads and consultants from around the world, the conference is a real opportunity to make things happen.
SSI, in partnership with the Australian Multicultural Foundation and the NSW Government through Multicultural NSW, is bidding to host the International Metropolis conference in Sydney in 2018. SSI is the lead organisation in this bid. SSI's Chair Kamalle Dabboussy and I travelled to Shenzhen in China last week to present Sydney's bid and to participate in the International Committee meeting. Our presentation, which was to gauge interest in Sydney hosting the conference, was very well received. More on that to come!
There was considerable discussion on the next Metropolis Conference to be held in Mexico City in September with the theme ‘Migrants: Key players in the 21st Century’. Did you know Mexico City has more than 22 million inhabitants which is almost the total of Australia's population!
Kamalle and I also attended an International Forum on Global Migration and Development in Beijing organised by the Centre for China and Globalisation, which is a Beijing-based think tank. The main subjects discussed were on how developing countries could learn from developed countries on how to attract and keep international talent. We heard that China ranked fourth in the world on the list of countries sending migrants overseas in 2014. This is evident here in Australia where we see large numbers of international students originating from China.
Figures from the United Nations show a tremendous growth in people leaving their native countries: 232 million in 2013, as opposed to 155 million in 1990. For developing nations, retaining their human capital will increasingly be a major challenge for their prosperity. Finding solutions to challenges like these are at the forefront of the Metropolis conferences. It was a fascinating trip and a great opportunity to network with academics and people from organisations around the globe that are focused on migration. There is a lot of interest in Australia and what we have achieved in the resettlement of refugees and the integration of immigrants.
Hosting Metropolis in Sydney would be a great opportunity for local organisations to show their expertise in meeting international migration challenges, as well as an opportunity to learn and expand their knowledge.
Finally, I couldn’t sign off without saying how impressive Beijing is. We were lucky to have sunny-blue skies under which to eat the great food.