Closing Remarks at IMRF Side Event: Enhancing the contributions of migrants in the post COVID-19 era

Distinguished delegates and members of the panel,

Allow me first to express my deep appreciation to our trusted partners, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Bank, for enthusiastically joining the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in organizing this side event.

Very often, we hear about the challenges of governing international migration, of protecting and assisting migrants in vulnerable situations, and of saving migrant lives. We read about the lack of available pathways for safe, orderly and regular migration, about the challenges posed by return and readmission of migrants, and about the need for social cohesion.  

And rightly so, as these gaps need our urgent attention.
Yet, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration also urges us to foster an evidence-based public discourse that can address negative stereotyping of migrants and instead promote balanced migration narratives. Providing objective information about BOTH the challenges AND the benefits of migration is critical in this regard.

I would like to congratulate our diverse range of speakers and panelists for having truly lived up to this task. We have heard insightful perspectives from a senior government representative, from academia and a migration practitioner, from a statistician, a private sector representative and a funding agency. We have also heard institutional perspectives from two of the leading UN entities in this area.

I will not try to summarize the discussion in today’s event, as I cannot do justice to the richness of the debate in the few minutes that I have. In any case, I understand that the organizers are planning to issue a “flash” summary very soon.

Instead, allow me to share a few thoughts. I have three points to make.

Last July, during a VNR lab on migration that we jointly organized with the Group of Friends of Migration, I called for closer linkages between the review frameworks of the GCM and the 2030 Agenda. I am very pleased that the draft Progress Declaration calls for greater attention to the implementation of the Global Compact in the elaboration of voluntary national reviews of SDG progress, prepared in the context of the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development. We hope that this will also facilitate a fuller consideration of migration in the annual Ministerial Declaration.

Second, the increased use of digital channels for sending remittances has accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, driving down the costs of transferring remittances. Nevertheless, despite reductions in many corridors, the overall cost of transferring remittances remains more than twice as high as the SDG target of 3 per cent. The increasing digital environment has also highlighted the unintended consequences that regulatory barriers and money laundering rules are having for migrants, diasporas If global financial institutions pull out of certain markets to minimize their exposure to the risk of participating in illegal transfers of funds, then more rigorous regulations around money laundering - a good objective per se- can nevertheless result in the disappearance of services for those in need.

Lastly, even though this side event focused mainly on the contributions of migrant and diaspora communities to countries of origin, we should remind ourselves that migration is a result of both push AND pull factors. The COVID-19 pandemic reminded us once again of the critical contributions made by international migrants in the economies and societies of countries of destination. Millions of migrants helped to keep our societies running as essential workers, especially in the health sector and the care economy and along food supply chains. It is critical that we strengthen our efforts to collect and share the evidence of these benefits and contributions in order to promote a truly informed and balanced migration narrative in countries of destination.

I thank you for your participation in this side event.

File date: 
Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Ms. Spatolisano