The New Mobility: Managing Growth, Security, and Social Justice

Since the 2008 recession which touched most countries in the world, governments and citizens alike have been concerned about maintaining sufficient levels of economic growth to support their standard of living. The jobs and government revenues lost during the recession and the debt crises that followed and that remain to this day have served to remind us that standards of living are fragile. The crisis in the Eurozone and the shaky recoveries in many countries of both the developed and developing world are exacerbated by their ageing societies and shrinking work forces, which point ultimately to their need for international migrants. The need for migrants to sustain standards of living in many countries will bring with it significant policy challenges with regard to security, social well-being, and social justice. The 2013 International Metropolis Conference, which will take place in Tampere, Finland, will contextualize international migration within a framework that looks at simultaneously managing economic and population growth, security, and social justice.

High levels of increasingly complex international migration, the new mobility, have formed the basis of many conferences over the past five years. In Tampere, Metropolis plans to explore the new mobility from the broader context of how contemporary societies should integrate migration in their economic planning as well as their planning for social justice and security. The global economic and financial environment that we will take into account at this conference includes the growing international competition for migrants, especially those with high skills, the development-induced reversal of many migration flows and the high levels of multiple migration that globalization has encouraged, how to manage the unmet demand to migrate from countries with younger populations and high levels of unemployment among young people, and the effects on immigrant integration of the diminishing of the welfare state in many countries as government debt levels force expenditure reductions on social programs and wealth re-distribution.

Tampere is well-known to those in the field of international migration. In the 1999 Special European Council of Tampere, the EU began the process of making freedom, security and justice, including creating common policies on asylum and migration, a top priority. The 2013 International Metropolis Conference will take place, furthermore, in one of the Nordic advanced welfare states, famous for their warm welcome to newcomers, which has helped to foster the migrants' transition from outsider to insider. In the same vein, these socio-democratic welfare states allowed for a mild form of multiculturalism. But with the declining economic fortunes of advanced welfare states, such a smooth reception can no longer be taken for granted. Today, a more assimilationist mood prevails, and impatience over the management of immigration and integration has become de rigueur, as is the case in many other countries throughout the world. More nationalist and anti-immigrant movements are acquiring political influence, and this changing political landscape is significantly affecting immigration and immigrant integration.

Finland has historic connections to Central and Eastern Europe and, especially, to Russia and the post-Soviet states. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet empire fundamentally changed ethnic relations and migratory flows in that region, flows that increased tremendously with the accession of many of them to the European Union. Unfortunately, older forms of ethnic, religious and national loyalties, no longer suppressed by the state, surfaced again, sometimes leading to strife, war, and the persecution of minorities. The situation of Jews, Roma, and Russian speaking minorities are cases in point.

Holding the 2013 International Metropolis Conference in Tampere, Finland, clearly offers us an opportunity par excellence to address global migration issues from the perspective of our host city and country and also from the new perspectives of The New Mobility: Managing Growth, Security, and Social Justice.

Howard Duncan, Executive Head, Metropolis Project