Fifth Meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development
29 November to 2 December 2011, Geneva, Switzerland


The fifth GFMD meeting, dubbed as the GFMD 2011 Concluding Debate, was hosted by Switzerland on 1-2 December 2011 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The two-day meeting was chaired by Mr. Eduard Gnesa, Swiss Special Ambassador for International Cooperation in Migration, and attended by over 500 delegates from governments, international organizations and civil society.

Under its overarching theme, “Taking Action on Migration and Development – Coherence, Capacity and Cooperation”, GFMD 2011  pursued three key objectives:

  1. to focus on action by drawing on the concrete experiences of migration practitioners “on the ground”
  2. to do this in partnership with GFMD participating governments, while also involving regional and inter-regional processes and bodies, international organizations and civil society
  3. to decentralize the GFMD activities, but bring back their results to a transregional meeting at the end of the year, through the GFMD Concluding Debate, thus preserving the global character of the process.

Making GFMD 2011 a year dedicated to action, Switzerland took the innovative step of organizing a series of 14 thematic meetings in various regions around the world under three thematic clusters:

  • Cluster I - labour mobility and development
  • Cluster II - addressing irregular migration through coherent migration and development strategies
  • Cluster III - tools for evidence-based migration and development policies.

GFMD 2011 Logo

From January to October 2011, the GFMD process held meetings in several countries where over 1200 participants comprising of governments, international organizations and civil society representatives sought to make policies and programs work “in the field”. Through this regional and thematic approach, the 2011 Global Forum gathered experiences from practitioners on the ground that were fed into the global discussions in a final meeting held in Geneva.

The GFMD 2011 saw further strengthening of consultation and cooperation with international organizations, in particular the Global Migration Group (GMG), and with civil society. The ‘Common Space’ arrangement, launched at the 2010 GFMD, was continued to enable governments and civil society to have a friendly and useful exchange of different perspectives on common challenges.

Furthermore, GFMD 2011 laid the groundwork and successfully completed the first phase of the assessment of the functioning and impact of the GFMD. A key finding was that some 80% of responding governments expressed great or general satisfaction with the GFMD process and that an overwhelming majority of the responding governments believed that the GFMD, as a global platform, offered added value compared to other fora, institutions or processes that deal with the same issues. The assessment also served as a basis for the discussions of the second phase of the process led by the Government of Mauritius.

GFMD 2011 also promoted the Platform for Partnerships (PfP), a recent mechanism aimed at promoting better evidence-gathering and knowledge-sharing between countries, international organizations and other stakeholders. From the first working session on the PfP organized in Puerto Vallarta in November 2010, a number of milestones have been reached, including thirteen Migration and Development (M&D) practices shared and showcased on the GFMD website and two M&D Calls for Action realized into tangible projects (i.e,. Migration Profiles and Handbook on diaspora engagement).

The GFMD 2011 maintained the “tried and trusted” features of the Forum. Similar to the traditional thematic roundtables, the Concluding Debate working sessions on the Platform for Partnerships and the Relationship of the GFMD with Non-Governmental Actors provided the opportunity for in-depth discussions about migration policy matters of global relevance.

Some 40 recommendations came out of the GFMD 2011 Concluding Debate, calling for further dialogue and action by all concerned stakeholders, as the GFMD Chairmanship was handed over by Switzerland to the Republic of Mauritius.