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’.