The GFMD and Civil Society

While the GFMD process is state-led, civil society has directly been engaged in the GFMD from the beginning, principally through recommendations and action plans put forward to governments. Over the past years, civil society has stepped up its role, responsibility, ownership and leadership in the GFMD process. The Civil Society Mechanism is an integral part of the GFDM Steering Group and Friends of the Forum and provides inputs into each Chairmanship on content and format when invited to do so by the Chair. At the same time, it continues to strengthen a global network of migrant rights and development leaders advocating for and contributing to the implementation of GFMD recommendations that improve the lives of migrants, their families and the countries to and from which they migrate. Civil society input to discussion, and dialogue between governments and civil society, is thus recognized as a vital part of the GFMD.


GFMD Civil Society Days (CSD) and Civil Society Preparatory Meeting

Since the creation of the GFMD in 2007 and up until the Quito Summit in January 2020, civil society participation in the GFMD was entirely through the GFMD Civil Society Days (CSD), organized preceding the annual GFMD Summit Meeting of governments. Outcomes of the CSD would be reported during the opening of the GFMD Summit.

A significant evolution for civil society and other stakeholders was introduced by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2020, when the UAE Chair agreed to open the entire Summit to all GFMD stakeholders. As a response, the traditional Civil Society Days (CSD) of the GFMD were re-purposed to a Civil Society Preparatory Meeting (CSPM) taking place prior to the Summit to fully brief and prepare all civil society delegates to engage in the GFMD comprehensively.


GFMD Civil Society Mechanism and Coordinating Office

Since the Swiss chairmanship of 2011, civil society engagement in the GFMD has been self-organized. The CSD / CSPM and other GFMD civil society activities are coordinated by a Civil Society Coordinating Office housed by the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) under the guidance of a Civil Society International Steering Committee (ISC). The ISC is comprised of more than 30 civil society organizations and networks active in migration and development worldwide - at global, regional, national and grassroots levels, with broad sectoral and regional representation.

For more information, please visit the GFMD Civil Society website.

Previous Civil Society Meetings

To find out more about the outcomes of the past Civil Society Days meetings, please view the outcomes documents from each year below:

2020 CSPM United Arab Emirates

2019 CSD Ecuador

2018 CSD Morocco

2017 CSD Germany

2016 CSD Bangladesh

2015 CSD Turkey

2014 CSD Sweden

2012 CSD Mauritius

2011 CSD Switzerland

2007 – 2010 Previous CSD

The GFMD is open to all States that are Members or Observers of the United Nations. Since its inception, the Forum has been advocating for a multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach to fully harness the potential of migration and development.

Members States participate to the GFMD through various ministries whose mandate are relevant to migration and development, including among others:

  • Ministry of Commerce and Trade
  • Ministry of Diaspora Affairs
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Ministry of Interior
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Ministry of Labour
  • Ministry of Youth

Member States have designated contacts that form a part of the GFMD Focal Points Network.

The GFMD and the private sector

As a state-led but not a state-only Forum, the GFMD is primarily concerned with facilitating a dialogue among governments in consultation with other relevant stakeholders in migration and development fields. While the private sector has long been recognized as a vital partner of the GFMD in harnessing the developmental potentials of migration and in addressing its attendant challenges, it was only considered as a distinct and separate stakeholder in the GFMD as a result of the GFMD Assessment conducted in 2012. Before then, the engagement of the private sector was through the GFMD civil society process.

The GFMD Business Mechanism

The Swedish (2013-2014) and Turkish (2014-2015) GFMD Chairs laid the foundation to engage the business sector in a meaningful way. As a result, at the Istanbul Summit Meeting in 2015, participating Member States officially endorsed the establishment of the GFMD Business Mechanism.

Since 2016, the GFMD Business Mechanism has organized a GFMD Business Meeting at the annual GFMD Summit, exploring cross-cutting issues of common concern and interest for business and government policy-makers and practitioners.

The objectives of the Business Mechanism are to:

  • Mobilize business federations from around the world to engage on migration issues;
  • Raise awareness of business federations on the work of the GFMD;
  • Carry out surveys and studies on best practices on business and migration issues;
  • Organize a mid-year GFMD Thematic business meeting;
  • Provide a space for the private sector to actively participate in and contribute to the GFMD Summit meeting, common space and civil society days; and
  • Advocate for business to promote sound migration policies that take into account economic perspectives.

The Mechanism is jointly coordinated by the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and the World Economic Forum - Global Future Council on Migration (WEF GFCM). Together they form the Business Advisory Group, which lead substantial work on a range of topics, particularly: the need for international skills mobility, fair recruitment and decent work, skills matching and certification recognition, the role of entrepreneurship and circular migration for development.  A GFMD Business Secretariat is housed at the IOE, which was established in February 2016 as a pilot project under the Bangladesh Chairmanship of 2016.


In the lead up to the adoption of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), the Business Meeting provided a voice for the business community in the drafting of the Compact, through contributing written content and engaging business speakers in consultations in Geneva and New York, as well as at the Stocktaking Meeting in Puerto Vallarta. The private sector expressed their vision of the GCM as a regulatory environment where migration policies support business and economic development to create job opportunities and economic growth, while protecting migrants’ rights and the domestic workforce. In turn, the important work of the Business Mechanism was recognized in the text of the GCM, which urged the promotion of inter-institutional networks and collaborative programs for partnerships with the private sector, “including building on the best practices of the Business Mechanism developed in the context of the Global Forum on Migration and Development” (Operative Paragraph 34(f)).

For more information, please visit the GFMD Business Mechanism’s website.

The 2018 Business Mechanism meeting, held on 6 December as part of the Marrakesh GFMD Summit, presented stories, reactions and recommendations from both business and governments around the theme Implementation of the GCM: how business will judge success in the 21st century world of work”. Discussion included a focus on, inter alia, the role of business in implementing the GCM, how migration is and will be needed to face the complex skills-gaps experienced by businesses, and whether and how business should advocate more publicly for the benefits of migration.

In 2017, the Business Mechanism hosted a round of global and regional business consultations in line with its four thematic priorities: (1) skills mobility, (2) responsible recruitment, (3) skills matching and (4) entrepreneurship. The Business Meeting also took an active role in the Global Compact for Migration preparatory process by contributing written content and engaging business speakers in the consultations in Geneva and New York, as well as at the Stocktaking Meeting in Puerto Vallarta.

In April 2016 a Business Mechanism Awareness Meeting was held on Enhancing the Public-Private Dialogue on Migration and Development, and in July 2016 the GFMD Business Mechanism Thematic Meeting took place. As a culmination of activities, the first GFMD Business Meeting took place at the Ninth GFMD Summit Meeting in Dhaka, focusing on the role of business in the Global compact for orderly and responsible migration.

Held in Istanbul on 15-16 May, the 2015 Business Meeting established the Business Mechanism as a formal and continuing part of GFMD activities. If was focused on the central theme: ‘Are businesses fit to compete in the global competition for skills? Strengthening public-private dialogue to rethink labor migration policies and international skills mobility in the framework of the GFMD’.

The GFMD Mayors Mechanism

Following the growing emphasis on the need for a whole-of-government and whole-of society approach to migration and development issues, the GFMD has recognized the value of involving local and regional governments (LRGs) in GFMD discussions through the establishment of a Mayors Mechanism in 2018.

First presented at the GFMD Preparatory Meetings in September 2018, the Mechanism was launched officially on 8 December 2018 in Marrakesh at the Fifth Mayoral Forum Meeting, held just after the close of the Marrakesh GFMD Summit.

The Mayors Mechanism formally links LRGs to the GFMD, alongside civil society, the private sector and youth. It creates an entry point for LRGs to influence the GFMD discussions and provides them with opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and exchange. It establishes a platform to interact with States, civil society and the private sector and provides avenues to bolster innovative solutions. The Mayors Mechanism also co-chairs the GFMD Ad-Hoc Working Group on Balancing Public Narratives on Migration, together with the governments of Canada and Ecuador. In 2021, the partnership scaled to also follow the Migration and Refugee Compacts.

The Mechanism is co-steered by:

  • United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)
  • The Mayors Migration Council (MMC)
  • The International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Call to Local Action for Migrants and Refugees

In 2018, with the adoption of the Marrakech Mayors Declaration, LRGs pledged to implement the GCM and GCR in unison, as concrete pathways to achieve Agenda2030. To elevate this continued political commitment, Mayors Mechanism Steering Committee Members — in partnership with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), launched a Call to Local Action for Migrants and Refugees in 2022.

Acknowledged by the UN Secretary-General in his 2021 GCM Report, the Call to Local Action offers a concrete avenue for LRGs to localise the both Compacts and for LRGs to be recognized for meeting global goals.

Piloted in 2019 and launched in May 2022 at the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF), the Call to Local Action mobilised 70 actions and pledges, an effort which will be scaled and elevated ahead of the 2023 Global Refugee Forum and GFMD 2024 Summit.          

Recent GFMD Activities:

The Mayors Mechanism at the 2021 UAE GFMD Summit

GFMD local-national networking session: Enabling local solutions for inclusive COVID-19 response and recovery

  • Concept Note and Agenda [EN]-[FR]-[ES]
  • Detailed Report [EN]
  • Press Release [EN]-[FR]-[ES]

6th Mayoral Forum on Human Mobility, Migration and Development, January 2020, Quito

The establishment of the Mayors Mechanism led to the first-ever integration of the Mayoral Forum into the GFMD in January 2020, Quito and to the formal inclusion of invited local and regional governments (LRGs) in the government-led Roundtables and Common Space. Under the overarching theme ‘From Large Movements to the Global Compacts: Cities as First Responders’, LRGs discussed the implications of the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees in their local and regional contexts, and discussed how to follow through on city commitments in the Marrakesh Mayors Declaration, adopted in 2018.

  • 6th Mayoral Forum Concept note and Programme [EN]-[FR]-[ES]
  • Press Release [EN]
  • RT 3.1 Background Paper - Supporting arrival cities through policy coherence and multi-stakeholders partnerships [EN]-[FR]-[ES]

For further information on past activities, including past Mayoral Fora on Human Mobility, Migration and Development, please consult the Mayors Mechanism' website.

Please visit the Mayors Mechanism website:, or write for more information.

The GFMD Youth Stakeholder Network

Youth participation in the GFMD started under the Swedish Chairmanship in 2013 and has steadily grown over the years. Originally coordinated through the UN Major Group for Children and Youth, in 2017 a dedicated Working Group on Migration was established to bring the voice of youth to migration fora at international level. In 2021, having reached over 179 organizations representing 88,000 youth across the world, the Group re-established itself as the Migration Youth and Children Platform (MYCP), the youth-led constituency for migration issues.

The GFMD Steering Group formalized the participation of youth as a mandated stakeholder of the Forum in July 2021. Acknowledging the importance of the contributions made by children and young people to the dialogue on migration and development, the Migration Youth and Children Platform (MYCP) has been recognized as the official body for the self-organized participation by children and youth in the GFMD. 

In the GFMD, youth engagement is facilitated through different existing structures, including Member States, the three Mechanisms, and GFMD Observers. Furthermore, the inclusion of children and youth as panelists and speakers at GFMD events is encouraged, as well as youth preparatory spaces linked to the Summit. The modalities of participation for youth in GFMD activities are defined together with each individual mechanism or structure, with MYCP serving to source and self-coordinate youth. 

Over the past years, Youth Forums have been organized as preparatory events to the GFMD Summit. These are capacity building opportunities for young people, composed of youth leaders, young migrants, organization and government members, attending the Summit as youth representatives, brought together to discuss migration issues, priorities and solutions. Youth Forums include skills workshops, and preparatory roundtables, and feature expert speakers from UN agencies, prominent stakeholders, and champion countries to support the discussions.

For more information, please visit the MYCP's website or write to

Friends of the Forum

The Friends of the Forum (FOF) - is open to all Member States and some Observers of the UN. The FOF is also comprised of specialized agencies of the UN, international organizations, regional consultative processes and select non-government stakeholders on migration and development issues (see a list of GFMD Observers).

The FOF acts as a sounding board by ensuring all members and observers are informed of Forum-related developments, and advises on the agenda and structure of each meeting. It also discusses other issues of substance, such as those being dealt with by the GFMD Platform for Partnerships and preparatory meetings leading to the annual GFMD Summit.

Participation in the FOF is guided by the defining elements of the Global Forum – voluntary, informal and state-led. Active participation is encouraged to ensure broader ownership of the process. On average, around 130-150 countries attend the GFMD preparatory meetings and thematic workshops, as well as the annual GFMD Summit.