A Technical Working Group (TWG) Meeting was held on 20th June 2017 to support the preparation of the Thematic Strategy Papers on Migration and Development. The TWG meeting, organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) was held as part of the Global Joint Programme on ‘Mainstreaming Migration into National Development Strategies’, supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The meeting was presided by the Co-Chairs of the TWG, Ms. Nahida Sobhan, Director General (Multilateral Economic Affairs), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mr. Muzaffar Ahmed, Joint Secretary (representing Additional Secretary, Mr. Azharul Huq), Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment.
To support the inclusion of migration and development into sectoral planning and the Action Plans based on the Seventh Five Year Plan (SFYP), IOM commissioned the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh (PRI) to support the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) to develop thematic strategy papers. The strategies would be submitted to the relevant ministries including the Planning Commission on behalf of the Co-Chairs of the TWGs.
Mr. Abdusattor Esoev, Deputy Chief of Mission, IOM Bangladesh, in his opening remarks, highlighted the milestones of the 4-year programme. The programme, now in its final year, so far has supported GoB to include a sub-section on Migration and Development in the SFYP and in the formation of an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration and Development (ICMD), co-chaired by the Honorable Secretaries of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment. He reiterated that the perspectives of the TWG members are crucial to support the development of the thematic strategy papers which would provide the basis to develop a National Strategy and Action Plan on M&D. He added that it is important that national planning processes are linked to global development frameworks like the Agenda 2030 and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM).
Ms. Nahida Sobhan highlighted that over the last few years, there has been increased recognition of migration as an enabler to development. This has been demonstrated through the decision of Member States to make the IOM a Related Organization of the United Nations. She added, while there is International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, many countries of destination have not ratified this and thus, the vulnerabilities of migrants remain as challenges to address. However, the Agenda 2030 and the GCM would pave the way to strengthen migration governance. She stressed the importance of building partnerships to achieve the Goal 10 (10.7 Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies) of the Agenda 2030.
Mr. Muzaffar Ahmed gave an overview of the national context of migration highlighting the related policy framework particularly the SFYP; National Skills Development Policy 2011; Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Policy, 2016; and Overseas Employment and Migrants’ Act, 2013. He briefed about the institutional arrangements and government initiatives for the migration arena.
The representatives then discussed about policy gaps and way forward on the following themes:
- Migration and Poverty Reduction
- Migration, Social Protection and Rights
- Migration, Environment, Climate Change and Disaster Management
- Migration and Human Resource Management
PRI Chairman, Dr. Zaidi Sattar, summarized the key points from the groups work and open discussion, highlighting inter alia the following:
- Importance of skills training based on market analysis for alleviating poverty
- Creating enabling environment in the countries of destination
- Utilization of SMART cards and effective information management
- Adherence to international instruments like the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) till a comprehensive framework is in place
Ms. Sobhan in her closing remarks, underscored the importance of language training in line with the culture of the countries of destination. She added, the need to empower the embassies to increase access to legal aid. She mentioned the importance to include human mobility aspects in national, regional and global development frameworks including sectoral plans like the Delta Plan.
Mr. Ahmed concluded the meeting by thanking all the representatives for their active participation which will be instrumental in developing the thematic strategy papers. Around 35 representatives from the government, NGOs/CSO, development partners and UN agencies participated in the discussions.