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 four 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 had two components:
- The Civil Society Days (CSD) meeting which preceded 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 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 Brussels, Manila, Athens and Puerto Vallarta, 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.
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.
GFMD Manila, The 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 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.