2015 Catalytic Fund Proposals Reflect Diversity of the Partnership
In March, the Cities Alliance issued a Call for Proposals for our Catalytic Fund with the theme “Migration and the Inclusive City.”
The 2015 Call formally closed on 8 May, with a total of 115 Concept Notes received from a broad range of organisations across the globe. While there was a drop in the overall number of applications – in 2014, we received 243 Concept Notes – there was a significant increase in the number of proposals that met the minimum eligibility requirements.
All eligible proposals are currently being assessed by an external evaluation panel, and the 10-12 selected projects will be announced shortly.
The 2015 Call for Proposals is noteworthy for several reasons. It is the first held since the Cities Alliance opened up the partnership to new types of members, and the increase in applications from international organisations, foundations and academia reflect the new, diverse nature of the partnership. And almost all Cities Alliance members sponsored applications to the Catalytic Fund, making it clear that the Fund is a valued tool that engages the entire Cities Alliance membership.
The theme selected for this year was a bold and innovative one. Migration is generally viewed as an international and national issue, and approaching it from a city perspective is still somewhat of a novelty – despite the fact that migration is a pressing issue whose consequences are mostly felt at the local level.
With this year’s Call, the partnership sought to promote innovative policy responses and practical approaches that adopt an inclusive response to migrants, including access to land, services, employment opportunities as well as recognition and voice. We believe strongly that adopting such policies can benefit cities significantly:
- The city becomes more socially inclusive. Outdated policy frameworks and weak local administrations often result in tensions between new migrants and the existing, settled population over access to services and social and economic opportunities. In some cases, these tensions have led to xenophobic responses or violence. Yet, it is also in cities where solutions for intercultural dialogue, conflict resolution and ethnic tolerance can be found – all of which substantially strengthen the social fabric and long-term potential of both city and community.
- Economic opportunities are created. Cities that provide urban citizenship and opportunities to their new residents stand to benefit as migrants in informal settlements gradually evolve into tomorrow’s middle classes. The flow of money, knowledge and ideas between destination and origin cities can catalyse innovation and development at both ends, potentially making migrants key players in city growth, resilience and sustainability.
- Ignoring migration can worsen poverty and inequality. With nowhere else to go, many migrants end up in overcrowded slums and settlements that lack the most basic services, social protection and access to the labour market. Excluded from the very opportunities they pursue, these men and women are often stigmatised as a problem and prevented from using their energy and enterprise to rise out of poverty. Tackling these challenges and addressing migration at the local level can help therefore reduce poverty and inequality.
- There is a unique opportunity to address gender equality. Nearly half of the world’s international migrants are women. Ignored by most legal frameworks and migration policies, these women tend to experience significant gender, ethnic and racial discrimination, and are often unable to access the labour market or social protection systems – leaving many vulnerable to exploitation. At the same time, women migrants are a driving force for economic prosperity, such as through remittances. By promoting gender equality for migrants, a city can help protect the human rights of its female residents and tap into their considerable economic potential.
- The city becomes more culturally vibrant and diverse. The topic of migration touches upon the very essence of a city: the notion of cities being a melting pot, whose characteristics are determined by their ability to assimilate and empower people of different backgrounds. How a city responds to migration shapes its economic, social and cultural vibrancy.