G20-GFMD-GMG Joint Event

3 June 2015, Izmir, Turkey–A joint meeting of the G20, Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), and the Global Migration Group (GMG) took place in Izmir on 3 June 2015, at the margins of the G-20 Development Working Group meeting. The joint event was hosted by the Government of Turkey, concurrent Chair of the G-20 and GFMD for 2015.

Mr. Kerem Divanlıoğlu, Deputy Director General for Multilateral Economic Affairs of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ms. Esen Altuğ, Deputy Director General for Migration, Asylum and Visa of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, represented the G20 Presidency and the GFMD Chairmanship, respectively. The GMG Chair 2015, World Bank, was represented on the other hand by Ms. Sonia Plaza. Joining the leadership of the G20, GFMD and GMG at the panel were Ambassador Eva Åkerman Börje, previous GFMD Chair Sweden, and Mr. Tunç Angılı, Head of Department, Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.The first G20-GFMD-GMG joint meeting reflected on ways to leverage migration, remittances and diaspora for financing sustainable development, and on how to implement relevant post-2015 UN development targets.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Altuğ highlighted the fact that 55 per cent of the world’s migrants – or 128 million people – live in G20 countries, and that remittances to and from G20 countries account for almost four-fifths of global remittance flows.

These figures were based on a report, How the G-20 Views Migration,” which was prepared by the IOM at the request of the Turkish Chair. The numbers speak about the massive impact of migration in G-20 countries, and the leading role that G20 members play in addressing migration and development related challenges and opportunities. 

According to Ms Altuğ, GFMD discussions noted that the challenge of bringing in more development policymakers and practicioners to the GFMD table was partly an issue of policy coherence within governments. Hence, the Turkish Chair resolved to reach out to agenda-setting processes like the G-20, while promoting thematic synergy and coordination of programs and activities between the GFMD and the GMG.Ms Altug, also emphasized the need to design more efficient and affordable financial services for migrants and their families, so that they will have the option to invest in small and medium sized enterprises. 

Speaking on behalf of the G20 Presidency, Mr. Divanlıoğlu shared about the huge responsibility for Turkey of chairing the G20 process in 2015, following in the big footsteps of Australia, previous G20 Chair. He agreed with the Turkish GFMD Chair’s comment that 2015 was a real pivotal year for development, with two upcoming crucial events – the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development in July in Addis Ababa and the announcement of the Post-2015 Development agenda in September.

Under the Turkish leadership, the G20 in 2015 focused on ensuring inclusive and robust growth through collective action. The G20 Turkish Presidency’s priorities were encapsulated in three i’s: inclusiveness, implementation, and investment for growth. To achieve this, the G20 Turkish Presidency welcomed outreach efforts and dialogue with all concerned stakeholders, including the GFMD.

Ms. Plaza made a presentation on the GMG’s ongoing work on leveraging migration and diaspora for financing for sustainable development. According to latest World Bank estimates, there will be some 250 million migrants in 2015, majority of them moving across South-South corridors. She stressed that evidence-based research indicates that the most tangible links to poverty alleviation and development is remittances, with $ 440 billion compared to only $ 135 billion of overseas development assistance. In fact, in 2014, remittances were considered as the most stable source of funds for many developing countries.

The main issue for all concerned actors, she lamented, was the high remittance costs in certain corridors. The GMG under the chairmanship of the World Bank in 2015 has undertaken various efforts to promote remittance cost reduction by engaging not only the policy makers but also the private sector and financial institutions and harnessing new technologies to bring down the costs. The aim is to reduce by 2020 the remittance cost to 5% across all corridors and, ultimately by 2030 to only 3%. She also drew attention to the potential of tapping diaspora savings through diaspora bond issuances, reducing recruitment fees paid by low-skilled migrant workers, diaspora philanthropy and securitizing future remittance flows for investment purposes.

G20-GFMD-GMGAmbassador Åkerman Börje, for her part, reiterated the important role that the G20 can play in delivering low-cost remittances to support the Post-2015 development agenda and the financing for development processes. Aside from reducing remittance costs, she saw a possible contribution from G20 governments in terms of mainstreaming policy coherence within governments (across sectors and ministries, etc), as well as in promoting the empowerment, rights and opportunities for migrants. She urged the G20, GFMD and GMG to continue working together to maximize the positive development effects of migration.

Mr. Angılı added that migration has a strong dimension in relation to development. While the G20 does not have a migration work stream, promoting inclusive growth and addressing inequalities is a key priority. This translates into policies on reducing unemployment and integrating migrants in the economy. Most significantly, the G20 has done a lot of work on remittances. Aside from agreeing on a target of 5% on remittances, the G20 under the Turkish Presidency also adopted a plan on facilitating remittance flows wherein member countries were asked to develop their individual country plans to increase efforts to reduce remittance costs. These, he remarked, were high level deliverables that could contribute both to the financing for development and post-2015 development agenda.

During the open discussion, participants from governments and international organizations urged the G20 to exercise political leadership by broadening its agenda on migration and considering also the possibility of reducing recruitment and migration costs. They praised the Turkish Government for taking advantage of both the G20 and the GFMD processes in advancing the agenda on migration in 2015. Many expressed support for a continuing dialogue and cooperation between and among the leadership of the G20, GFMD and the GMG to address other issues of common interest beyond the concurrent Turkish Chairmanship of the G-20 and the GFMD.