Regional Office in Vienna Responses in a Time of Rapid Changes

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

A renewed commitment to the needs of migrants and to the priorities of member states was forged during the annual meeting of Chiefs of Mission and Heads of Offices from across Southeastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia (SEEECA) at IOM’s Regional Office in Vienna last week.

At a time of turmoil across the world, IOM is developing a new strategic vision to embrace the new migration dynamics and ensure the success of the United Nations Migration Network. The four-day meeting reflected the new migration epoch, with presenters from among the highest echelons in the Organization presiding over lively discussions. In this context, RO Vienna’s lead, in cooperation with the Brussels Regional Office on engagement of the regional UN system for a regional UN Network on Migration was warmly welcomed.

Close attention was paid to institutional and thematic areas, with senior managers and others present developing corporate thinking on identity, policy capacity, staffing, climate change, sustainable development, and the humanitarian/development nexus.

A unique aspect of the event was the inclusion of Regional Directors from the three regions neighbouring the area covered by the Vienna Regional Office (Brussels, Cairo and Bangkok). A highly collaborative day of discussion on inter-regional and trans-regional cooperation saw productive dialogue on such weighty matters as the EU elections, relations with the Asian Development Bank and World Bank, the Chinese One Belt One Road initiative, and the root causes of displacement and migration.

High emphasis was placed on the need for greater institutional accountability in all areas, alongside the increased responsibility that has come from IOM becoming not only an integral part of the UN, but also the secretariat and convener of the new United Nations Migration Network.

The meeting heard that IOM SEEECA region has enjoyed stellar growth since 2012, seeing its budget more than triple, which underscores the need for incremental efficiencies and a greater appreciation for the increased expectations and performance of the regional and country offices, operating with limited overall resources in comparison to competitors. To this end, illuminative presentations on donor relations were given by representatives from several offices from the region and elsewhere.

There was also time for self-reflection, with the organizational Ombudsman delineating his role as an agent of change, who ensures a win-win situation in times of conflict or uncertainty.

The packed programme also included a session on the new global strategic approach to media and communications, and an enlightening session on the increasingly starring role that data collection and analysis is playing in the current migration landscape.

“The use of technology and time management enabled us to have our most efficient and productive Chiefs of Mission meeting to date”, noted Regional Director Argentina Szabados. “It was imperative that we came together to consolidate our grasp of the new global realities and the increasingly significant role our Organization has to play in what is still one of the defining issues of our era. We are re-energized to rise to the challenge and ensure that we maintain and grow our place on the international stage for the benefit of those we serve.”