This timeline sets out the major milestones in the process governing bids for International Metropolis Conferences. Within in each step are smaller milestones. Successful applicants should remain in regular contact with the Secretariat and members of the International Steering Committee.
The most prominent and prestigious feature of the International Metropolis Project is its annual fall conference. To date, nineteen successful conferences have been organized in Milan, Copenhagen, Zichron Yaa’cov (Israel), Washington, Vancouver, Rotterdam, Oslo, Vienna, Geneva, Toronto, Lisbon, Melbourne, Bonn, Copenhagen, The Hague, and Ponta Delgada (The Azores), Tampere, Milan, Mexico City, Nagoya (Japan), The Hague, Sydney, and Ottawa. The conferences typically take place over three days, with an additional day set aside for optional study tours.
Metropolis conferences have varied in size, but recent events have attracted between 800 and 1,300 attendees, depending on the locale. Participants constitute a ‘who’s who’ of leaders and stakeholders with an interest in understanding global migration and its consequences for our societies. They include ministers of national and state governments, senior officials from international and supranational organizations, city mayors, leading academic thinkers, government policymakers, researchers and program officers and NGOs engaged in service provision and advocacy.
International Metropolis Conferences are designed to inform participants and to encourage them to engage each other on issues related to migration, immigration, diversity and integration. Both the content and the structure of the Conferences support this objective. The long-term goal is to create a community of stakeholders, to elevate their capacity to understand and to manage migration and its consequences, and to build trust. To this end, the International Metropolis Conferences feature expert panels with participants from a range of perspectives and backgrounds speaking on important topics related to scientific study, policy development and action. Efforts are made each year to broaden the Project’s scope by introducing new leading- edge issues, by adding attendees from new countries, and by acquainting participants with the particular features of the host country’s migration dynamics.
Alongside the expert panels, numerous autonomously-organized workshops as well as board and committee meetings involving stakeholder groups take place within the purview of the Conference. These special sessions bring together anywhere from ten to fifty experts – policy officials, researchers, program officers and NGOs – who wish to explore particular topics in depth or to plan future activities. The workshops are comparative in nature and have proved to be an invaluable venue for international organizations and research teams to discuss their plans and to exchange information on research and practice in a stimulating intellectual environment. Most recent International Conferences have included between 60 and 90 such workshops.
There are no formal restrictions on who may host a Metropolis conference. Preference is given, however, to bidders with a demonstrated interest in Metropolis and in the issues that occupy the Project. This reflects the fact that the International Conference is the premier event by which Metropolis projects influence and advances its international objectives. Bids are evaluated from this perspective. It is not enough to merely demonstrate the financial wherewithal to host a conference. Bids must also advance the interests of both the Project and the prospective hosts in relevant fields of endeavour. Former hosts have successfully used the Conference to draw attention to critical, strategic issues and to advance both research and policy thinking on these issues.
Special consideration will be given to bids from organizations with an affiliation or relationship with the International Metropolis Project as this is considered evidence of demonstrated involvement in the field.
Typically, bids to host an International Metropolis Conference proceed through four stages: (i) an initial expression of interest; (ii) a conference proposal; (iii) progress reports; and (iv) final approval of conference plans. At each stage, the Metropolis International Steering Committee (ISC) is involved in the decision. Details regarding each step are described below along with the criteria that the ISC uses in arriving at a decision.
Expressions of interest to host an International Metropolis Conference may be submitted, in writing, to the Metropolis Secretariat up to five years in advance of the planned event. All expressions of interest will be acknowledged and tabled for discussion at the first available Steering Committee meeting. If the Committee approves, applicants will be invited to submit a conference proposal. In coming to its decision regarding expressions of interest, the ISC will be guided by the following considerations:
None of these elements is essential on its own. Instead, they will be considered in total. Applicants with an approved expression of interest will be notified at least two and a half years in advance of the planned event and will be asked to submit a conference proposal. A maximum of three applicants will be invited to submit conference proposals for any one year.
Applicants whose expressions of interest are approved by the International Steering Committee will be expected to attend a Metropolis International Conference and to present their conference proposal to the Committee at the meeting immediately following the International Conference two years in advance of the planned event.
The decision to provisionally approve a conference proposal will be taken by the International Steering Committee at this meeting. Only one proposal will receive provisional approval for a particular year. Provisional approval constitutes agreement in principle by the Steering Committee that the applicant’s bid to host an International Metropolis Conference has been accepted subject to satisfactory completion of arrangements. The Steering Committee will base its provisional approval of conference proposals on the following considerations:
Once provisional approval has been granted, bidders are expected to participate in Metropolis International Steering Committee meetings and to provide progress reports at the Committee’s biannual meetings. (This also gives prospective hosts an ‘inside look’ at the development and evaluation of other conferences.) Dates, concrete themes, proposed plenary sessions, study tours, and a program of social activities must be presented at the spring meeting of the Steering Committee one and a half years preceding the date of the planned event. Applicants must also provide venue and other logistical details. Evidence of specific and continued progress is necessary to secure final approval of conference plans.
Final approval by the Steering Committee of the conference plans occurs at the fall meeting of the Steering Committee, year immediately preceding the planned event. The Steering Committee will seek assurances that the financial plan is viable, that the necessary organizational capacity exists and that preparations for the conference plans are developing at an acceptable pace. Prior to this meeting, the applicant will work with the Secretariat and members of the Steering Committee to plan the plenary sessions and panelists, and a final program must be presented at the fall meeting of the Steering Committee one year in advance of the planned event.
A Conference announcement with dates, venue, the theme, and an initial call for workshop proposals must be available at the International Conference immediately preceding the planned event.
It is expected that regular contact between the applicant, the secretariat and members of the Steering Committee at biannual Committee meetings and International Metropolis Conferences will produce a relationship of trust and mutual support, facilitating the final approval of the conference plans.
The program that is developed for the International Metropolis Conference blends the particular interests of the Conference host with those of the Project’s broader constituency as reflected by the International Steering Committee. The Project’s interests are represented in discussions with the Conference host by the International Secretariat. Specifically, the Secretariat is empowered to work with the Conference host to develop a provisional Conference program consisting of mutually-agreed themes and speakers. This provisional program is then tabled and discussed by the International Steering Committee at its fall meeting one year in advance of the planned event. The International Steering Committee is an invaluable source of expertise regarding subject matter, presenters and past successes.
Throughout the planning stage, including discussions about the Conference program and speakers, the Secretariat works closely with the host offering support, expertise and access to the Project’s extended network of partners and stakeholders (as well as representing the Project’s interests). This support carries through into subsequent organizational tasks associated with contacting and issuing invitations to speakers. The work is conducted through regular international teleconferences and email.
The Secretariat also works in partnership with the Conference host in promoting and organizing the autonomous workshops and meetings that are a signal feature of International Metropolis Conferences. The Ottawa arm of the Secretariat has considerable experience in working with Conference hosts to prepare the workshop logistics, to screen workshop applications to ensure that workshops conform to Metropolis criteria. These criteria include involving both policy and research participants, as well as at least one non-governmental organization and evidence of international engagement and comparisons.
In terms of planning and logistics, Conference hosts are asked to assume financial responsibility for the following items:
Typically, the expense of mounting an International Metropolis Conference has been met through a combination of Conference fees (progressively structured to encourage attendance by students and NGOs) and grants from domestic sponsors. The Conference fee entitles registrants to Conference registration, Conference meals and the gala evening. Registrants are also typically offered special Conference rates for accommodation at various classes of hotels.
All costs associated with Conference facilities for the main panels, for workshops and for displays of books and related material are solely the responsibility of the Conference hosts. Hosts are also responsible for translation facilities (where required), for production and distribution of Conference related programs and brochures, for domestic promotion, and for organizing and collecting Conference presentations and preparing them for posting on the International Metropolis website. Logistical support for all these endeavours is available from the International Secretariat. The Conference host is also strongly encouraged to develop a Conference website that provides potential registrants with additional information and includes an online registration tool. A link to this website will be posted on the International Metropolis Project website.
The International Metropolis Project will undertake to promote the Conference through extensive and repeated contact with members of its network, through advertising on the Metropolis Project website, through personal contact with prospective workshop leaders and through direct intervention by members of the Metropolis International Steering Committee with their domestic constituencies.
Detailed financial and organizational plans and records are available for past Metropolis Conferences. As well, prospective hosts are encouraged to hold face-to-face meetings with previous Conference organizers. These arrangements can be facilitated by the Secretariat.
Over and above the specific responsibilities detailed above, it is expected that hosts, the International Steering Committee, and the Secretariat will be guided in their strategic decisions and actions by an overriding desire to produce a successful and productive Conference that advances learning and practice in the area of migration and related societal transformations and that advances the long-term interests of the International Metropolis Project.
The most prominent and prestigious feature of the International Metropolis Project is its annual conference. International Metropolis Conferences are designed to:
Both the content and the structure of the Conferences support this objective. The long-term goal is to:
Metropolis conferences have varied in size, but recent events have attracted between 600 and 1,000 attendees, depending on the locale. Participants constitute a ‘who’s who’ of leaders and stakeholders with an interest in understanding global migration and its consequences for our societies. They commonly include:
The International Metropolis Project is best understood as a network rather than as an organization. It is governed by the Metropolis International Steering Committee (ISC) which devolves day-to-day management to the Metropolis Secretariat which has two principal offices, one in Ottawa and the other in Amsterdam. As a network, Metropolis has neither a budget nor a bank account. This means that Metropolis activities, including the annual conference and meetings of the ISC, are funded fully by those organizations that host them. Recognizing the generosity of our hosts, Metropolis strives to ensure that our hosts receive benefits from our events. In practice, this means that conference programs reflect the interests of both the host and of Metropolis, and that these events are managed as partnership. Metropolis hopes that the annual conference offers an opportunity for our hosts to highlight their achievements regarding migration and integration, and to raise in an open, non-partisan manner, the challenges that remain before us all.
Preferred time of year: the autumn, with most conferences taking place in October or November.
Duration: the conferences usually begin on a Monday with registration and optional study tours during the day and an evening welcome reception; the conference itself continues through to Friday at noon. Although this has been the norm, Metropolis is open to modifications to the schedule.
Attendance: between 600-800 persons is normal, with a relatively even divide among academic researchers, officials of government at all levels, and civil society organizations; registration is open to all. Normally, between 50 and 70 countries are represented.
Broad structure: plenary sessions in the mornings of Tuesday through to Friday; workshops during the afternoons; cultural or social events most evenings. Again, Metropolis is flexible on the structure of the conference.
The program: normally, there are two plenary sessions each morning for a total of eight. The issues covered vary according to world events and the location of the conference. The interests of the host are always reflected in the plenary program, and each year we also try to include some issues that are new to the Metropolis audience. The focus is on contemporary debates on migration, integration, and diversity, and the outlook is global. The issues and speakers are selected jointly by the host and Metropolis.
The workshop program usually consists of approximately 60 – 90 workshops spread across the afternoons of Tuesday through Thursday. This means 10 - 15 concurrent sessions of 90 minutes, with two 90 minute time slots each afternoon. The program is developed through an open Call for Workshop Proposals; proposals are adjudicated by a committee established jointly by the host and Metropolis. The workshop program is highly important, because it largely determines registrations.
The study tours are designed to acquaint our participants with the realities of migration and integration in our host city. They usually include meetings with government officials, immigrant- serving organizations or business leaders embracing diversity and employing migrants and refugees, walking tours of areas where (im)migrants live and do business, and so on.
Social and cultural events during the evenings offer opportunities for participants to further engage with one another and to learn more about the host city. Past activities have included music, theatre, comedy, dance, or food and drink, and they normally reflect the facts of (im)migration, integration, and diversity in the host city.
Logistics are handled by the host, often through a conference organizing firm. This includes such requisites as managing the conference website, registrations, securing a conference venue, AV and ICT technologies, light breakfasts and lunches, a closing dinner, transportation to social and cultural events, hotel recommendations, and security.
Finances are the responsibility of the host, although Metropolis will assist with fund-raising if necessary and per capacity. Registration fees are charged to most participants and they normally account for roughly 40% of the total expenditures. Total costs vary according to location, but between $650,000 and $900,000 is common. The expenses of some individuals are covered by the host; these include plenary speakers and chairs, as well as 3-4 members of the Metropolis Secretariat.
Promotion is handled jointly by the host and Metropolis, where the host produces the marketing materials and communications, with input from Metropolis where necessary, and Metropolis distributes to the network through different channels (mass email, social media). The host plays an equally important role in marketing, by making the conference known to stakeholders and the larger public in the respective country / region.
Media coverage is normally managed by the host who in most cases would have much stronger connections with media than Metropolis.