“From Local to Global: Migration’s Challenge with Civilization” Conference organized by Marmara Municipalities Union in cooperation with SOS Malta was held on 16 November 2017 in Istanbul, Turkey in the frame of LADDER Project, with the participation of 20 international experts from 16 countries and representatives from 17 municipalities from the Marmara Region of Turkey. In the conference, policies and practices in the light of the largest mass migration influx and humanitarian crisis after the Second World War discussed in three sessions addressing local, national and regional levels.

After the opening speeches made by Dr. M. Cemil Arslan, Secretary General of MMU, Irene Zanetti took the floor on behalf of ALDA, stressing how crucial local governments are in the day-to-day management of migration, as the work implemented by LADDER migration path points out.

Representatives of Turkish municipalities conveyed their experiences in the first session on “Experiences of Turkish Municipalities: Growing Role of Local Governments in Social Cohesion of Urban Refugees.” In the afternoon representatives of CSOs and central administrations in Turkey contributed to the session on “Management of Migration Flows: Best Practices About Reception and Integration of Migrants in Turkey” by sharing their actions and practices at the national level. Finally, in the last session on “Ignite Talks: Regional Perspectives on Migration” speakers from different countries analyzed the current situation on regional scale and share their knowledge and experiences.

Ms. Lorna Muscat from SOS Malta presented more in depth the activities and accomplishments of LADDER migration path, which works on two levels: advocacy, to raise the voice of local and regional governments and change EU policies; and knowledge production and sharing, to allow multiplication of best practices in communities facing similar issues.

Among the institutions represented in the panels are Istanbul Provincial Directorate of Migration Management, UNHCR, ICMPD, Beirut University. All together, the participants transformed the event into a real exchange between representatives of local governments, practitioners, academics, and experts.

The final and very emotional speech was delivered by Mohammed A. Faris, former Syrian astronaut, who fled his country with his family to seek refuge in Turkey. He said that from up above in space he looked at our planet Earth and did not see Syria, but saw the World, of which we are all sons, and brothers one to each other.

Participants were welcomed by a photograph exhibition by Mr. Mustafa Kocakoç, AFIAP, that set the right mood to starting the debate.