The 2009 Greek Chairmanship

The 2009 GFMD Chairmanship focused on the theme of “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, as well as to make migration a force for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

The Greek Chair’s proposal to mainstream migration in development planning was based on the belief that migration should be propelled more by choice than by necessity. The Greek Chair emphasised that national and international development efforts should enlarge human development by improving the standards of living and expanding life choices, and that international migration should not be a survival strategy, but should be based on choice.

An important step in the evolution of the GFMD was undertaken under the Greek Chairmanship, which established the GFMD Support Unit to backstop the administrative work of the GFMD and its Chair.

During the Greek Chairmanship, some outcomes from earlier GFMD meetings also came to fruition, which further reinforced the thematic coherence between annual meetings. To wit:

  • The establishment of two informal ad hoc working groups -- one on Protecting and Empowering Migrants for Development, and another on Policy Coherence, Data and Research -- to ensure follow-up on several recommendations from Brussels and Manila.
  • A meeting in Asia of Heads of Regional Consultative Processes on Migration (RCPs) to enhance the exchange of good practices among RCPs; an assessment of the outputs and impacts of RCPs, which was presented in Athens.
  • A study to assess the feasibility of a market-based approach to lowering the costs of migration for low income labour migrants from Bangladesh, an outcome of the Brussels meeting in 2007.
  • An assessment of how Migrant Information Centres are working to achieve better informed migration.
  • An informal survey of governments on policy and institutional coherence, which provided some evidence that the GFMD was shaping international debate, as many governments reported that new migration policies have given more regard to development aspects, and new mechanisms were being employed to engage with diasporas.

Third Meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development

2-5 November 2009, Athens, Greece

The Third Meeting of the GFMD, hosted in Athens, was attended by over 530 delegates representing 142 UN member-states and observers and 30 international organizations, as well as the European Commission.

The Civil Society Days, held on 2-3 November, were organized by the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, in tandem with the preparations of the Government meeting. The meeting attracted over 300 participants from a wide range of non-state sectors across 100 countries.

The Athens discussion of human development drew on some findings of the UNDP 2009 Human Development Report, inter alia, that migration choices and the developmental effects of migration are clearly dependent on the conditions under which people move, and the levels of “development on the ground”.

The Athens roundtable discussions particularly produced a number of new recommendations and possible follow-up actions to better mainstream migration in development planning; for example, through more effective data collection tools and methods. It was suggested that more research and tools should be made available to help inform policy-makers on a broad variety of issues relating to migration and development policy, and to reinforce regional and inter-regional cooperation, particularly in the context of closer relations with the GFMD. Governments agreed to continue pursuing policy and institutional coherence on migration and development, as well as research and data to underpin this coherence.