8th GFMD Summit concludes: GFMD must play a role in the implementation of Migration-relevant 2030 SDGs

On 16 October, Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru led the concluding session of the 8th GFMD Summit Meeting which took place in Istanbul from 14 to 16 October 2015, in the presence of Ambassador Mehmet Samsar, Turkish MFA Director General for Consular Affairs, Mr. Shahidul Haque, Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh, incoming GFMD 2016 Chair, and Mr. Peter Sutherland, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for International Migration.

Around 600 delegates from 150 countries and 30 international organizations witnessed the concluding plenary session of the 8th GFMD Summit, which began with the Reports on the outcomes of the Roundtable discussions, the special session on the Future of the Forum, and the special session on the Platform for Partnerships. Thereafter, Ambassador Samsar delivered the initial conclusions of the Turkish GFMD Chairmanship, followed by the statement of the incoming GFMD 2016 Chair-in-Office Bangladesh, as delivered by Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque.

"It was an ambitious agenda, but we take satisfaction that progress was made as a result of our collective efforts... During this week-long GFMD discussions that began with the Civil Society Days, we heard 2 recurring themes. These two themes—action and partnership—need to be anchored in specific programs and lead to real outcomes that make a difference in the lives of migrants. - Amb. Mehmet Samsar"

In his closing remarks, Deputy Foreign Minister urged the Global Forum not to forget, in the face of international migration crisis, that migration is generally a positive thing – it has tremendous potential to promote development in origin and host countries, through trade, investment, cultural exchange and powerful new networks of knowledge. But this potential, he underlined, can only be realized by “strengthening partnerships” to make sure that human mobility contributes to sustainable development, as embodied in the overarching theme of the Turkish GFMD Chairmanship.

He enunciated that “International migration is here to stay—a product of two of the most powerful forces in the world: market forces and the universal human urge to achieve a safer, better life for oneself and one’s children. It is up to all of us to work together to promote the positive outcomes of international migration, for people and for countries – and to work against forces that rob migrants of their potential.”

Referring to the new 2030 Development Agenda, expressed in 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which calls for “peaceful and inclusive societies” and for partnerships, the Deputy Foreign Minister called for the GFMD to play a role in developing and vetting the indicators to make sure the migration-specific and migration-relevant SDGs are being implemented effectively.  The GFMD offers a valuable body of real-world experience, and its collection of good practices can be used to learn about ways that the SDGs can be implemented.

He highlighted the fact that the GFMD 2015 roundtable discussions have gone into issues in depth, and come up with practical proposals for policy reforms. They emphasized the connection between wider legal channels for migration and the protection of migrants’ rights. Reducing the costs that migrants bear when they send money home will leave more of their hard-earned money in their own pockets. Reforming the recruitment process will not only save migrants money, but also protect them against exploitation.

Furthermore, the 2015 GFMD for the first time took up the issue of forced migration, in order to underline the need for greater sharing of responsibility for protecting and caring not only for refugees, but also for millions of people who are compelled to cross international borders to escape the effects of man-made or natural disasters. Currently, there is no international framework to protect and assist them through the special circumstances of forcible displacement.

Turkey has followed the example of previous GFMD chairs and worked to include the private sector more fully into the GFMD—both among the participants and as a subject for discussion in the roundtables. The role of employers and of entrepreneurs—especially those from migrant communities and the diaspora—is an important aspect of the connection between migration and development.

Finally, Deputy Foreign Minister Koru underscored the need for continued partnerships, as governments are not the only decision-makers in migration. He concluded, “[E]mployers, recruiters, diaspora groups, and most importantly migrants themselves are among the many actors who shape the reality of migration pattern and outcomes. The GFMD is one of the few places where they come together to share concerns and work on practical proposals. It is one of the most valuable qualities of the GFMD, and we must build on it together.”