GFMD Reflection on Migration-related SDGs in the Agenda 2030

GFMD Side Event, HLPF 2017

12 July, New York -- At the margins of the 2017 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), the German-Moroccan Chairmanship of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) hosted a side event. The event presented the GFMD’s substantive input – from a migration perspective – to the 2017 HLPF topic of “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world.”

In opening the event, Ambassador Götz Schmidt-Bremme, representing GFMD Co-Chair Germany, highlighted the rich expertise on development-oriented migration policies that the GFMD, as a multi-stakeholder process, including civil society and private sector, has accumulated since its foundation in 2007. With a view to SDG target 10.7, he stressed the need to align with international processes in order to create synergies when it comes to facilitating safe, orderly and regular migration.

GFMD Side Event at the High-Level Political Forum in New York, 12 July

For her part, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for International Migration, Ms. Louise Arbour, emphasized that the SDGs recognize the positive contribution of well-managed migration to sustainable development in countries of origin, transit and destination by including a number of migration-related targets. Remittances for example, amounting to $429 billion dollars in 2016 and mostly sent to countries of origin and used by families to invest in health, education, sanitation and housing, have lifted millions of families out of poverty. Ms. Arbour described that remittances allow families to reach their “own” sustainable development goals.

She underlined that the NewYork Declaration, adopted in September last year, provides yet a new commitment with stepping towards a Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration in 2018. The Global Compact should therefore be framed in a way that contributes to the implementation of the migration elements of the 2030 Agenda. If supported by operational commitments, robust follow-up systems, and coherent policies at the national level, she believed that the Global Compact could accelerate action such as to reduce to less than 3 per cent the transaction costs of migrant remittances and eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than 5 per cent, as required by SDG 10.c.

GFMD Side Event, HLPF 2017

A panel discussion with international migration experts and policymakers followed, moderated by Dr. Kathleen Newland of the Migration Policy Institute. Mr. Andreas Pfeil, of Germany’s Permanent Mission in New York, explained the explicit and implicit links of migration and the 2030 Agenda, as illustrated in GFMD’s report to the HLPF. He also shared about Germany’s recruitment programs for foreign nurses, in accordance with the ethical recruitment code for medical workers. This, he said, is a concrete example of how to achieve SDG 3.c by preventing care drain and leveraging migration gains, thus making the migration of health workers more development-oriented,.

Asked what GFMD 2016 Chair Bangladesh would like to see in the GCM that would reconcile the interests of countries of origin and destination, Ambassador Masud Bin Momen, Permanent Representative to the UN in New York mentioned, inter alia, the timeline, financing for the GCM outcome and its implementation, areas of complementarity between the GCM and the Global Compact on Refugees, engagement of the GFMD as a policy body in the GCM follow up, and promoting a positive narrative of migration.

Putting the labor perspective into the discussion, Ms. Deborah Greenfield, Deputy Director General for Policy of the International Labour Organization (ILO), stressed that without a strong labour migration governance at national, regional or international levels, safe, orderly and regular migration and improved outcomes for migrant workers cannot be achieved. To this end, the recent International Labour Conference affirmed the following principles: a) labor migration governance must be based on international labour standards; b) creation of decent work opportunities for migrants and the national population; c) fair recruitment; d) effective skills recognition policies; e) a whole-of-government approach to labor migration governance and f) effective freedom of association rights.

HLPF Event HLPF Event

Mr. El Habib Nadir, representing GFMD Co-Chair Morocco, talked about how the GCM can improve protection for those people who are compelled to move and other vulnerable migrants. Mr. Nadir imparted the key outcomes of the thematic workshop on climate change and human mobility held in Rabat in May. There were divergences, he said, with regard to the knowledge, data and research of the phenomenon. At the same time, the lack of legal status poses challenges in providing protection to migrants or refugees or those who fall in between. The workshop came out with 3 key recommendations: a) preventive action; b) assistance and support for affected peoples; and c) sustainable return through provision of aid, training, and reconstruction programs.

Dr. Newland then invited the panelists to explain the role of migrant returns in a "safe, orderly and regular" migration system, and if returns can actually contribute to development. Mr. Pfeil answered affirmatively, citing the GIZ program, “Returning to new opportunities,” as a reference. He emphasized, however, that the voluntary nature of return migration is a prerequisite for sustainable integration. Ms. Arbour, meanwhile, highlighted that the short-term remedies in managing migration must not be at odds with the long-term objective, which is to reduce returns and irregular migration and promote more legal pathways. She also cautioned against those who believe that the purpose of increasing overseas development assistance (ODA) is to stop migration. In her eyes, such views only aggravate the negative perceptions about migration. ODA, she emphasized, is offered to promote an environment in which migration is made out of choice in a safe, orderly and regular manner.

Mr. El Habib Nadir closed the event with a strong resolve to further shine the spotlight on the “D” (development) in the GFMD. According to his words, GFMD should follow up on the implementation of the SDGs, and to take into account all related processes where GFMD can present its outcomes. He pledged that the Moroccan Co-Chair will help in preparing national delegations for the negotiation process of the GCM, and give priority to the GCM implementation and follow up mechanisms.

GFMD Side Event, HLPF 2017 Panel

This year marks the GFMD’s first contribution to the United Nations’ High-Level Political Forum. The Co-Chairs hope this will allow the GFMD to continue leveraging its vast expertise and lessons learned under the framework of the United Nations.