Ecuador Chair convenes first GFMD preparatory meetings

19 – 21 February, Geneva — The Government of Ecuador kicked off its 2019 Chairmanship of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) with the first GFMD Preparatory Meetings and Roundtable Team Consultations at the Palais des Nations. The three-day GFMD meetings took place two months after the adoption and formal endorsement of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), and one week before the New York Migration Week (Feb 26 to 28). The meetings convened over 100 UN Member States and some 20 GFMD Observer organizations.


Preparatory Meetings of the GFMD Troika, Steering Group and Friends of the Forum (19-21 Feb)

The main focus of the meetings of the various GFMD support structures – the Troika, Steering Group (SG) and Friends of the Forum (FOF) -- was the proposed GFMD 2019 Concept Paper and Work Plan which is organized under the overarching theme, “Sustainable approaches to human mobility: Upholding rights, strengthening state agency, and advancing development through partnerships and collective action.”

In addressing the SG and FOF, respectively, Ambassador Santiago Chavez Pareja, Vice Minister for Human Mobility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, and designated GFMD 2019 Chair, underlined that the Ecuador GFMD Chairmanship – from 1 January to 31 December 2019 – comes at a critical juncture, when the adoption of the two Global Compacts for Migration and Refugees did not receive universal endorsement and, especially in the case of the GCM, have generated different viewpoints in some countries. In this respect, the Chairmanship of Ecuador will play a bridging role to nurture common ground among governments who may have different perspectives on the GCM, and to further strengthen the dialogue among the GFMD stakeholders, including with the local authorities and the academia.

The day-long Steering Group Meeting on February 21 focused on the conceptual and strategic discussions of the proposed 2019 agenda and work plan of the Chair and the GFMD Ten-Year Review report that was presented at the Marrakesh GFMD Summit. Dr. Steffen Angenendt, one of the experts commissioned to lead the Review process, presented the report’s findings and recommendations, which point to a 3-P vision for the GFMD in the future—a space for “Policy, Partnerships and Peer Review.”

The Friends of the Forum Meeting, on the other hand, on February 21 reported the major outcomes that emerged from the SG Meeting discussions a day earlier. It began with a presentation of the outcomes of the Eleventh Summit Meeting in Marrakesh. Mr. Ahmed Skim, representing the Moroccan GFMD Co-Chair, shared that the Summit in Marrakesh was a huge success, with the attendance of over 2,000 delegates, including high-level officials of governments and international organizations. (See the Summit Digest (EN/FR) for the highlights of the different summit sessions.)

At the FOF Meeting, Mr. Bela Hovy, Chief of the Migration Section of the Population Division of the UNDESA briefed the GFMD community on how to prepare for the upcoming Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) at the 2019 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF). He underscored the importance of strengthening the focus of the VNRs on migration-related issues and initiatives to enrich their contribution to the review and follow up of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The SG and FOF meetings served as the first opportunity to share the preliminary details of the upcoming GFMD Thematic Workshop on the National GCM Implementation (March 21-22, Geneva), to invite Member States to pledge technical and/or financial support to the GFMD 2019 Work Plan, including the call to co-chair and participate in the six Government-led Roundtable sessions.

In both the SG and FOF meetings, the current draft GFMD Recommendations to the 2019 HLPF was presented by Germany as Co-Chair of the Working Group on Sustainable Development and International Migration (formerly Ad hoc Working Group on the 2030 Agenda and GCM). Representatives of the GFMD Civil Society, Business Mechanism and the recently established Mayors Mechanism introduced their planned activities and budget for 2019. A common appeal was made by the different mechanisms for participating governments to look at sustainable ways of funding the GFMD-related processes.

Finally, the UN Network on Migration Secretariat, provided an update on the current status of the Network, including its TORs. The Network stands ready to explore thematic synergy, develop partnerships, and draw inputs from the wealth of knowledge and expertise that the GFMD has accumulated through the years.  


Government-led Roundtable Team Consultations

Also on 21 February, after the Friends of the Forum Meeting, six government-led Roundtable Team Consultations were organized based on the three main themes of the GFMD 2019, as follows:

  1. Joint responses to mixed migration flows: Partnerships and collective action to protect rights;
    1. Roundtable Session 1.1: Providing legal pathways from crisis to safety
    2. Roundtable Session 1.2: Facilitating social and economic inclusion
  2. Migration narratives and communication: What role, responsibility and resources do governments have?
    1. Roundtable Session 2.1: Shaping public narratives on migration and migrants
    2. Roundtable Session 2.2: Communicating effectively with migrants
  3. Addressing human mobility as part of urban and rural development strategies.
    1. Roundtable Session 3.1: Supporting arrival cities through policy coherence and multi-stakeholder partnerships
    2. Roundtable Session 3.2: Harnessing migration for rural transformation and development

Members of the GFMD Ecuador Task Force served as RT coordinators, steering the discussions in each session and updating interested delegations on how they can take part and contribute in the upcoming consultations (May and September). Around 60 Member States and 17 GFMD Observers participated in the first RT consultations, offering multi-stakeholder perspectives on the RT topics and sharing relevant lessons learned and concrete measures taken by their respective governments and organizations.

The sessions also clarified the mandate and deliverables of the government-led RT teams. In accordance with the 2019 Terms of Reference, each RT team is responsible for preparing a concise background paper to inform the Quito Summit RT session and deciding on the format and structure of the actual discussion. A number of countries stepped forward to serve as RT session Co-Chairs or rapporteurs. (See this preliminary list for the overview of RT Teams composition.)