The idea of creating a global consultative forum on Migration and Development was proposed at the High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development (HLD) on 14-15 September 2006 at the General Assembly of the United Nations by the then Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Kofi Annan. During the HLD, over 140 Member States discussed the global implications of international migration for economic and social development, the interaction between migration and development, and how better migration governance could contribute to development and vice versa, a complex relationship of growing importance in view of the increasing migration flows. There was widespread recognition and support in the UN for the continuation of an open and transparent dialogue on migration and development in an informal, non-binding and state-led framework that would promote practical, evidence-based outcomes and cooperation between governments.
The past ten years of the GFMD have seen the organization of an annual meeting, following more or less the same format, although each meeting has included its own distinctive and innovative elements. Generally, the annual GFMD meetings have two components:
- The Civil Society Days (CSD) meeting which precedes the government meeting. In Belgium, it lasted one day, while in the Philippines, Greece and Mexico the CSD were organized for two days. It provides a platform for discussion among representatives of Civil Society, representatives of NGOs, migrant associations, diaspora organizations, and representatives of trade unions and the private sector that are associated with, or interested in migration and development issues.
- The Government Meeting, which is open to all UN Member States and Observers. In general, participants in the Government Meeting are high-level policy makers and practitioners on the ground, who can discuss informally the complex issues relating to migration and development.
Both the civil society and the government meetings produce a set of outcomes and recommendations each year. The CSD report is usually submitted at the opening of the government meeting, to signal the issues that civil society deem most important for the governments to discuss. Joint meetings (interface) between representatives of Civil Society and government delegates since Manila GFMD 2008 have also served as a means of converging both events. The purpose of the interface is to discuss the outcomes of the CSD meetings with government representatives.
In Belgium, Philippines, Greece, Mexico, Switzerland, Mauritius, Sweden, Turkey, Bangladesh and Germany, countries and international organizations were widely represented. Representatives of more than 150 Member-States and UN Observers, as well as over 30 international organizations, have participated in the government meetings, while each CSD has seen the participation of 200-300 civil society representatives.
The 9th meeting of the Global Forum was held in Dhaka on 10-12 December 2016, under the overarching theme of “Migration that works for Sustainable Development for All: Towards a Transformative Migration Agenda”. Under this theme, the 2016 GFMD had three broad strands – the economics of migration, the sociology of migration and the governance of migration. In addition, the improvement of the governance of migration in the form of the Global Compact on Migration was of central relevance throughout the Bangladesh chairmanship.
GFMD Istanbul, Turkey
The 8th meeting was held in Istanbul, Turkey on 14-16 October 2015. The overarching theme of the Turkish Chairmanship was “Strengthening Partnerships: Human Mobility for Sustainable Development.” This theme recognized that international migration cannot be addressed effectively by any one country alone, or by states without the cooperation of other stakeholders—including international organizations, civil society, the private sector and migrants themselves. It also emphasized that mobility within the right policy framework is a positive factor for development.
GFMD Stockholm, Sweden
The 7th Summit Meeting was held in Sweden on 14-16 May 2014 with the theme of “Unlocking the potential of migration for inclusive development”. In short, this meant exploring how more coherent and innovative policies on migration and development can enhance the positive contributions of migration to inclusive economic and social development. The three core objectives of the Swedish chairmanship were: a more development-focused, a more dynamic and a more durable Forum.
GFMD Port Louis, Mauritius
With the theme of “Enhancing the Human Development of Migrants and their Contribution to the Development of Communities and States”, the sixth annual GFMD Concluding Summit Meeting in 2012 was held in Mauritius on 19-22 November 2012. Emphasising development, the meeting also reinforced Africa’s perspectives on the development dimension of migration. The consolidated assessment report (2011-2012) was presented, outlining the vision of GFMD and identifying areas for further improvement. The consultation process with civil society and international organizations aimed to engage the private sector and diaspora more closely in the activities and outcomes of the Forum.
GFMD Geneva, Switzerland
As Chair for the fifth meeting of the GFMD (Concluding Debate) on 29 November-2 December 2011, Switzerland pursued the theme of “Taking Action on Migration and Development – Coherence, Capacity and Cooperation”. While putting emphasis on action, the GFMD process sought to make policies and programs work “in the field”. GFMD 2011 also completed the first phase of the Assessment of the GFMD, promoted the Platform for Partnerships and concluded with 40 recommendations for further action and dialogue.
GFMD Puerta Vallarta, Mexico
The fourth meeting of the GFMD was hosted by Mexico in Puerta Vallarta on 8-11 November 2010. With the theme of “Partnerships for Migration and Human Development; Shared Prosperity, Shared Responsibility”, it aimed to foster and improve interactions between government and civil society. The ‘Common Space’ was set up to promote a greater willingness to share responsibility while addressing the causes, challenges and effects of migration for development. The Platform for Partnerships was also presented as a tool to facilitate partnerships on topics inspired by GFMD discussions and recommendations.
GFMD Athens, Greece
The third Meeting of the GFMD was hosted by Greece in Athens on 2-5 November 2009 with the overarching theme "Integrating Migration Policies into Development Strategies for the Benefit of All". The selection of this theme was based both on the diverse Greek experiences of migration and a growing global awareness of the need to better link migration to development and to make it a force for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
GFMD Manila, Philippines
The second GFMD meeting took place in Manila on 29-30 October 2008. It revolved around the central theme 'Protecting and Empowering Migrants for Development'. Its goal was to emphasize the human aspects of migration and the protection of migrant rights, and to examine the impact of such protection on development.
GFMD Brussels, Belgium
Belgium organized the first GFMD meeting in Brussels on 9-11 July 2007. The main goal of this meeting was to examine the impact of migration on social and economic development, in terms of human capital development and labour mobility on the one hand and the contribution of migrant resources (financial and skills) on the other hand. Policy coherence between migration and development policies was the second main issue. Horizontal issues such as human rights, gender and root causes were also discussed. Operating modalities were established to create a structured framework that would guarantee the continuation of the Forum.