02/2013: Ambassador Eva Åkerman Börje


Ambassador Eva Åkerman Börje
Chair of the Global Forum on Migration
and Development (GFMD)


“Key priorities and planned activities for Sweden’s Chairmanship
of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (2013-2014)”


Ü Eurasylum: Sweden is the incoming Chair of the Global Forum on Migration and Development for 2013 and 2014 and will hold the next GFMD Summit in May 2014 in Stockholm. Can you guide us through the key priorities and planned activities of your Chairmanship?

Ü Ambassador Eva Åkerman Börje: Let me begin by emphasizing that is a great honour for Sweden and the Swedish Government to assume the role as the Chair of the GFMD for the period January 2013 to June 2014. The work of the Swedish GFMD Task Force will be guided jointly by the minister for Migration and Asylum Policy, Mr. Tobias Billström, and the minister for International Development Cooperation, Ms. Gunilla Carlsson.

GFMD has contributed greatly to the global policy debate. Neither the GFMD nor any other global platform on migration existed before the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in 2006. Since then, the GFMD has successfully been moved forward by six consecutive Chairs. The Forum has provided space for governments to share their experiences in the area of migration and development. Thanks to its state-led, informal and non-binding character, it has facilitated comprehensive and frank discussions on good practice – policies, programmes and projects. We believe that it has helped to build trust among states and other stakeholders.

The Swedish GFMD Chair’s priorities and proposals build on the gradual progress and achievements of the GFMD from 2007 to 2012. A thorough assessment process has concluded the first phase of the Forum’s existence and an Assessment Report was endorsed at the GFMD meeting in Mauritius in November last year. Sweden aims to launch a new, upgraded phase of the Forum on this basis in order to realize the common vision of the Forum’s future.

Sweden has defined three clear objectives for the GFMD Chairmanship:

• A more development-focused Forum,
• A more dynamic Forum and
• A more durable Forum.

Regarding the first priority, efforts should be redoubled to strengthen the development dimension of the GFMD and the substantial contribution of the Forum to national and global development agendas. On the second priority, the idea is to encourage a reenergized GFMD by strengthening the involvement and ownership by states and by identifying a format for better outreach to other stakeholders. The third priority is to ensure the Forum’s sustainable impact on the global, regional and national debates by more stable and predictable funding, and by ensuring that the accumulated knowledge and good practice is shared and implemented more broadly in the global community.

Sweden has recently distributed a Concept Paper, including priorities on substance and process, suggested themes for Roundtables etc., which will be discussed with all GFMD’s Friends of the Forum. We will seek to encourage substantive input to the work in the GFMD government teams in order to prepare the ground for more evidence-based Roundtable discussions. During the coming year, we will also plan to arrange a number of GFMD thematic meetings in order to prepare for and support the work in the government teams and the GFMD Summit Meeting in 2014. At this stage, we are considering to have one thematic seminar looking at ways to integrate migration into the post-2015 development agenda, building on the work that has been done on mainstreaming migration into development planning. We are also considering a second one on labour migration and circular forms of mobility and how the positive development outcomes can be increased and a possible third meeting focusing on diaspora issues.

The next two years mark an important period for the global debate on migration and development. In October this year, the second UN High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development will take place in the UN General Assembly. The UN has also started the process of identifying new global development goals, which will replace the “Millenium Goals”, which end in 2015. Sweden, through our Minister for International Development Cooperation, Ms. Gunilla Carlsson, is actively engaged in the UN High Level Panel, which has been given the task to write a report on the new development goals. In this Panel, the minister has taken an initiative to look closer at migration, as an enabler for development.

We will benefit from this momentum – the High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development, the work on the post-2015 development agenda and our Chairmanship in the GFMD – in the efforts towards a solid recognition of the contribution migration makes to realizing the development goals. Migration has an important place in the formulation of the future development agenda. We will also promote the inclusion of policy coherence in the policy discussions both at national level, in the EU and on global level.

Ü Eurasylum: In your statement at the last GFMD Summit in Port Louis in November 2012, you stressed that “coherent development policies that fully incorporate migration as an enabling factor are better equipped to maximise the benefits and minimise the downsides of migration. Governments that ensure the protection and empowerment of migrants can help them seek safe and gainful opportunities that also bring valuable development outcomes”. Can you elaborate on some of your plans in this area?

Ü Ambassador Eva Åkerman Börje: The Swedish GFMD would like to explore migration as an enabler for human development, encompassing both its inclusive economic and social dimensions. Human development, as the process of enlarging people’s choices and improving human capabilities, can be further advanced through enhancing both inclusive economic and inclusive social development. Government policies, therefore, need to be coherent and take both these dimensions into consideration.

Sweden will suggest that one Roundtable theme of the GFMD should look at economic aspects such as labour migration and the matching of demand and supply. This is a traditional focus of the GFMD. Discussions on labour and skills matching, however, need to be more adapted to and differentiated according to migrant characteristics (gender, age, skills, qualifications, etc.), sectorial and country differences (developed countries with shrinking working age populations, emerging markets, developing countries with large informal sectors).

Another theme would be transnational diaspora communities, especially professional networks, focusing on their contributions to country of origin development through investments and trade. Members of diaspora communities are involved in skills transfers, send remittances, make investments or promote trade based on their affection or insider knowledge of a particular source country. Governments are increasingly aware of the importance of legal and institutional frameworks that can facilitate and support such private engagement. Coordination mechanisms are of key importance in this regard. Migrants and citizens of foreign origin who benefit from sound integration policies are often in a better position to contribute to their countries of origin or ancestry.

Sweden will also suggest that a Roundtable theme would focus on social aspects of migration. It would identify a number of measures that empower migrants in order to minimize the human and social costs and improve access to safe, legal and protected migration opportunities. A focus on the quality of migration and ways to empower migrants could identify good practice in providing safe and well-protected conditions for mobility. Migrants are empowered if they are able to move under conditions where they can access their rights and entitlements, costs are reasonable, and they can mobilize and voice concerns. Well-informed migrants are better equipped to cater for their own well-being and that of their families left behind. Comprehensive national, legal frameworks and their implementation to ensure the rights of migrants are often preconditions for inclusive, social development outcomes.

Ü Eurasylum: In his statement to the last GFMD Summit, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commended the Forum for creating a space for states to discuss challenges surrounding migration and urged governments to bring concrete proposals to engage in the post-2015 development agenda. Considering that migration was not factored into any of the current Millennium Development Goals, can you discuss how it might be integrated into the post-2015 global development framework, and how your Chairmanship might be able to guide this process?

Ü Ambassador Eva Åkerman Börje: The current MDG Development Agenda has been very successful in mobilising international efforts towards a limited set of concrete human development objectives. A weakness, however, is that the MDG framework does not give any guidance on how to achieve these objectives. The UN-System’s own review of this process has emphasised the importance of a number of enablers, i.e. means to achieve development goals, and migration is identified among these enablers.

The Millennium Development Agenda does include one goal that is more instrumental in nature than the others: MDG 8, which calls on the international community to “develop a global partnership for development”. In a future development agenda, one could foresee a similar instrumental goal which includes migration. However, in order to overcome the shortcomings of the current MDG 8, this would have to include concrete targets and explicit linkages to each of the other development goals (i.e. the successors of the current MDG 1-7). In the efforts to arrive at a new development agenda, the global community is reviewing different global challenges and trends, which may have a bearing on future goals. Sweden has since 2007 identified migration as one such issue which needs to be addressed coherently in order to maximise developmental outcomes.

Through our Chairmanship, we want to enhance the focus on development in the GFMD. One clear way of doing this is by engaging states in a debate on how migration may be integrated in the post-2015 development agenda. This is something we intend to do and have proposed in our draft Concept Paper.

If we were to be successful and migration was included in the post-2015 development agenda, I believe that the effects of migration on the various development goals will be considered to a greater extent in the development surveys, analysis and strategies for different countries. It could also result in monitoring and evaluation clarifying to what extent or in what manner migration has contributed to the attainment of different development goals. This could give further guidance to policy makers on what mix of policies best serves to achieve the development goals in various circumstances and conditions and thus contribute to countries’ migration and development policies.