Our first guest in 2021 was Kilian Kleinschmidt - one of the best known and most published experts in the world on migration, development and refugees. In a time in which our world had shrunk and we were mainly concerned with the problems in our own daily lives, he put our mind to this other major global problem: the still ongoing worldwide refugee crisis. Having more than 30 years of experience as a migration expert, Kleinschmidt knows the current state of the refugee crisis as no one else. We talked with him about new tactics and ways to deal with migration in the light of current global developments, migration as a permanent phenomenon, the myth of return, the need to professionalize aid work and how to turn a crisis into opportunities. Together with Killian Kleinschmidt we explored what this means for our migration strategies, urbanisation and our cities.
About Kilian Kleinschmidt
Kilian Kleinschmidt has over 30 years of experience as a development and migration expert. In 2013, he was dubbed the Mayor of Zaatari as manager of the world’s second-largest refugee camp and the largest camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan on behalf of UNHCR. He has achieved the impossible, transforming Za’atari from a chaotic and crime-ridden place to a thriving and stable community ready for its transition to the next phase of its development. The camp has under his leadership become a symbol for new and innovative approaches in refugee and humanitarian management.
Now based in Tunis, he is CEO of “Innovation and Planning Agency” (IPA-Switxboard) and has co-initiated the SDZ Alliance, which promotes innovative cities and settlements for refugees and migrants. He now aims at connecting the millions of poor and dispossessed with the idle and under-utilized resources and modern technologies of the 21st century. He is part of several art projects and various initiatives that aim at global connectivity through the better use of globalization. His work on emerging cities and urbanization is widely recognized.