Several governments in the Asia-Pacific region have actively engaged in the United Nations' Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) for the past seven years, as both participants and leaders. Virtually every country in the region has assigned representatives in GFMD's network of country focal points, eight Asia-Pacific countries are part of GFMD Steering Group, and a number have contributed to the roundtable and thematic meetings either as co-chairs or team members. Three countries from the region were also part of a 14-member Assessment Team that outlined the future of the Forum after 2012.
The region's active engagement has helped shape the themes and topics of GFMD meetings, beginning with the first meeting convened in 2007. However, during this time, the challenges facing migrants and their families have not abated. To remain relevant, the GFMD must become as instrumental in shaping the reality on the ground as it has been in shaping the global discourse on migration and development. The 2012 GFMD assessment shows participant states' demand for a more development-focused and results-driven forum.
The GFMD could provide more opportunities for collaboration between governments and other migration stakeholders. While becoming more action-oriented, it should continue to shape the agenda on migration and development and set international priorities among the wide range of issues that demands attention. Toward these ends, the GFMD would benefit from (1) an enhanced linkage with regional fora and processes; (2) a more dynamic people-to-people networking platform where policymakers can find partners, pilot projects, test ideas, and develop policy and programmatic tools; and (3) a more focused, action-oriented, and results-driven process for the next five years.
This brief argues that although the Global Forum on Migration and Development was primarily designed as a venue for changing the discourse on migration, the success of its efforts to date and the pressing need for progress on the ground both indicate that it is time to assess how the Forum can facilitate concrete action.