01.12.2011 - Social and Human Sciences Sector

UNESCO represents the Global Migration Group at the Global Forum on Migration and Development

© Flickr/Atti-la - Migrant worker from Myanmar

For the first time, UNESCO participates in the Opening Session of the Global Forum on Migration and Development’s (GFMD) Concluding Debate in its capacity as Chair of the Global Migration Group (GMG), held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva (Switzerland), from 1 to 2 December 2011.

The Concluding Debate, which is the fifth meeting of the GFMD since its creation in 2007, is a two-day event. Over 160 UN Member States and 30 GFMD Observers are gathering to discuss the results and conclusions of 14 thematic meetings held around the world in 2011 under the central theme, “Taking Action on Migration and Development – Coherence, Capacity and Cooperation”. Pilar Alvarez-Laso, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO, is delivering a statement on behalf of Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO.

The debates will focus on three thematic clusters:

  • Labor Mobility and Development;
  • Addressing Irregular Migration through Coherent Migration and Development Strategies; and
  • Tools for Evidence-based Migration and Development Policies.

This event provides the opportunity to identify and discuss the implications of the GFMD process for policy and cooperation initiatives at national, regional and international levels. Simonetta Sommaruga, Federal Councilor of the Federal Department of Justice and Police, and Eduard Gnesa, GFMD 2011 Chair Ambassador, will lead the Swiss Confederation in welcoming about 500 government delegates dealing with migration and development issues, as well as representatives of different international organizations, including members of the GMG, international foundations, Regional Consultative processes, and other non-governmental actors.

A press conference will follow the Opening Session to highlight the main outcome of the UNESCO Chairmanship of the GMG in the second half of this year: the first UN-wide statement on the Impact of Climate Change on Migration, adopted at the Principals’ Meeting on 15 November 2011 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

The GMG statement recommends that:

  • Migration should be recognized as a key adaptation strategy to environmental risks;
  • The most vulnerable should have access to the option to migrate;
  • Immigration policies should take into account environmental factors;
  • New venues for legal migration should be explored.

The statement also recommends that special attention be paid to the human rights of people affected by the consequences of climate change and for greater focus on exploring the relationships between climate change and human mobility. The Global Migration Group can assist the Least Developed Countries in responding to the effects of climate change when migration and mobility is mainstreamed in national adaptation plans and development strategies.

The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) is an initiative of United Nations Member States to address the growing importance of migration and development interconnections in practical and action-oriented ways. It is an informal, non-binding, voluntary and government-led process that marks the culmination of more than a decade of international dialogue. It reflects the progressive acknowledgement of the limits of a strictly national approach to migration questions and implications at the global level in an intergovernmental framework. In view of the societal implications of these issues, civil society representatives have been involved from the outset in the whole process.

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