Bangladesh GFMD Chair calls for a transformative migration agenda

On 4 February, Ambassador Md. Shahidul Haque, Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh, GFMD 2016 Chair-in- Office, led the first meeting of the Friends of the Forum (FOF) in Geneva, in preparation for the 9th GFMD Summit to be held in Dhaka on 10-12 December 2016. As 2016 marks the first year after the adoption of the Agenda, the Bangladesh GFMD Chairmanship will be organized under the overarching theme “Migration that works for Sustainable Development of All: Towards a Transformative Migration Agenda.”

Ambassador Haque called upon Member States to join efforts towards developing a transformative migration agenda while ensuring the achievement of migration-related goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

“I think GFMD was created to discuss difficult issues in the changing context and try to bring in a consensus, whichever it goes. To live up with that spirit, I think we have done a great service to the issue of migration and migrants; but time has come when we need to look at the hard issues and try to create a new narrative.“ - Amb. Md. Shahidul Haque

GFMD 2016 Thematic Agenda and Work Plan

Delegates congratulated the Government of Bangladesh for taking on the GFMD chairmanship and expressed support for the proposed Roundtable (RT) themes – RT 1: Economics of migration, RT 2: Sociology of migration and RT 3: Governance of migration. Each RT will have 2 sub-themes, some of which have not yet been explored in previous years.

As explained by Ambassador Haque, the GFMD 2016 work plan includes a number of new elements in the GFMD process. Pursuant to the recommendation of the 8th GFMD Summit Meeting in Istanbul, an ad hoc Working Group (WG) on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will be established to lead the process for the GFMD to actively participate in the implementation, review and follow up of migration-specific and migration-relevant goals and targets. The WG will be co-chaired by Bangladesh and Switzerland, and will include other member states from different regions.

In addition, GFMD 2016 will oversee the pilot of the new GFMD-Business Interaction Mechanism, with the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) providing its support structure and coordinating all activities. This new initiative – also endorsed at the 8th GFMD Summit -- signals the recognition of the crucial role that businesses play in migration in general, and at the GFMD table, in particular, without taking away from the long-established civil society process within the GFMD.

Highlights of the first GFMD 2016 FOF Meeting

The first FOF meeting drew a total of 150 delegates representing 106 governments and 30 delegates representing 20 international organisations. The Chair was assisted at the panel by the GFMD Troika (GFMD 2014-2015 Chair Turkey, and GFMD 2017-2018 co-chairs Morocco and Germany) and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration, Mr. Peter Sutherland.

During the meeting, the Turkish GFMD 2014-2015 Chair, represented by Ms. Esen Altug, Deputy Director General for Migration, Asylum and Visa of the Turkish MFA, reported on the highlights of the GFMD 2014-2015 process. Under the Turkish Chairmanship, the GFMD advocated actively for the inclusion of migration in the 2030 development agenda. GFMD 2014-2015 discussed controversial issues such as forced migration and lowering migration costs, and caused the first interaction between the GFMD and the G-20 in an effort to strengthen partnerships with other relevant actors.

For his part, Mr. Sutherland expressed his view on the potential role of the GFMD in the forthcoming UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Refugees and Migrants on 19 September in New York. He underlined that proximity does not define responsibility and states must strengthen their cooperation if viable solutions to the migration crisis are to be found.

“Through this embryonic structure, the GFMD, should be expressing also the concern about those who are sometimes described in simplistic terms as economic migrants... A lot of the achievement and the references to migration and the recognition of migration in the SDGs is attributable to a dynamic which had its support and development here, in the Global Forum, and it just shows, how you can do it.” -Peter Sutherland

Towards the end of the session, Ms. Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, 2016 Chair of the Global Migration Group (GMG) addressed the Friends of the Forum by audio. She affirmed GMG’s support for the GFMD in building on the evidence base and offering a ‘gendered’ approach to the migration debates and partnerships.

“Women make up approximately half the 2.47 million people who are outside of their countries of birth, and this is one of the 2 areas that there is more gender parity, I believe, in terms of numbers... The scope of policy-making however continues to neglect the adoption of a gender perspective, so this is something that we would like to contribute to correct.” -Lakshmi Puri

The 9th GFMD Summit meeting will be held in Dhaka on 10-12 December 2016. The calendar of activities leading up thereto consists of three rounds of preparatory meetings in Geneva, three thematic workshops and GFMD side events at the margins of relevant international processes.

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