Migration and Sustainable Urban Development

Migrants, internal and international, move to urban areas and to smaller municipalities where they bring diversity but also connect localities within and across state borders. A key message from the World Migration Report 2015 is that urban partnerships among, for instance, migrant groups, local governments, civil society and the private sector are central to addressing the challenges and optimizing the opportunities presented by the growing trend of migration towards cities.

This comparative project focuses on how cities receive and prepare for immigrants, including persons of varying legal statuses, and the effect on local and regional development. Comparative studies across Mistra Urban Futures local interactive platforms (LIPs) aim to understand the challenges and opportunities that migration presents in the face of sustainable urban development.

The project addresses migration and urbanisation from an integrated perspective. As migration studies and urban studies generally are treated as two separate discourses, Mistra Urban Futures has the opportunity to contribute to a new research direction. Here, aspects of sustainable spatial transformation and urban governance as well as constraints of urban-rural development, are seen through the lens of migration.

Mistra Urban Futures Annual International Conference in Kisumu 2017 provided an opportunity for the team members to discuss ideas relevant to the project, with focus on translocality as both an effect of migration and a precondition for planning (Find documentation below).

Questions that present opportunities for collaborative research include:

  • How can cities plan for and adapt to mobility and fluidity?
  • How is temporality perceived on different scales?
  • How do new migrants access urban resources and navigate an (trans-local) inclusion?
  • How do migrants’ agency shape and contribute to cities?
  • How to combat unequal access to the city – in terms of citizenship, boarder control and ethnic/racial discrimination?
  • What does the interconnection between the urban and rural look like in terms of migration? Who moves to urban areas and why?

Previous related activities:

On the theme of migration and urbanization, Erica Righard held an Urban Lunch-time seminar in October 2017. The presentation focused on how migration shapes cities, and how cities shape migration. Find documentation from her presentation below (in Swedish).

In connection to Mistra Urban Futures Realizing Just Cities Conference in Kisumu 2017, Dr. Caroline Kihato held a keynote speech on the theme of translocal urban lifes. Listen to her speech here:

Project members

  • Henrietta Palmer

    Henrietta Palmer is an architect and Professor of Urban Design at Chalmers University in Gothenburg. She is also Deputy Scientific Director at Mistra Urban Futures. Henrietta previously held a position as Professor of Architecture at the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm, where she during a ten years period developed the post-master program Resources, as an interdisciplinary research space on the challenges of our urban futures, with a particular focus on the cities of the Global South. Her current research focuses on the urban transformation processes and the visual language of change. Recently she published Access to Resources – An Urban Agenda (AADR, 2014), which she initiated and edited.


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  • Erica Righard
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Lilian Omondi

Dr. Lilian Omondi is a Researcher at Maseno University.

Stephen Sule

Stephen Sule heads the city department of Physical Planning at the county of Kisumu.

Kristina Grange

Kristina Grange is Professor of Urban Planning and Design Theory at Chalmers, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering. Kristina is project leader for The uneven geography of migration. 

Nils Björling

Nils är arkitekt och universitetslektor på Chalmers arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik. I sin forskning arbetar Nils med teori- och metodutveckling för planering och rumslig omvandling i en lokal/regional kontext.

Eva Maria Jernsand
Helena Kraff

Helena jobbar som forskare med att producera ett antal artiklar för samarbetsprojektet GOLIP-KLIP.

Sandra Lundberg

Sandra Lundberg is an Utvecklingssekreterare at the City of Malmö.

Maria Hellström Reimer

Maria Hellström Reimer is Professor at Malmö University.

Maher Akob

Maher Akob is Manager of the Establishment of Housing and Debt Counseling Unit at Malmö city.