11 April 2018
Fifty-first Session, 5th & 6th Meetings (AM & PM)

While Debating Pros, Cons of Migration at Population and Development Commission, Delegates Share Best Practices, New Approaches to Urban Challenges

International migration was a global and multidimensional phenomenon of economic and social importance, the Commission on Population and Development heard today, as delegates shared ways to improve the management of flows, address key drivers and channel the potential of young people.

International cooperation and partnerships must help to strengthen existing policies and create new approaches to address mobility and migration, said Liberia’s representative, emphasizing that every effort must be undertaken to ensure that cities and communities were inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable in light of population shifts.  Liberians were once on the move due to civil upheaval, but that was no longer the case, he said, adding that Liberia was grateful and could relate to the factors that forcefully displaced populations.

Population, mobility and international migration had significant impacts on sustainable development, highlighted the Russian Federation’s delegate, stressing that the complex challenges posed by migration required international harmony.  Migration growth had compensated for more than half of the country’s natural population loss, he said, highlighting the current migration policy, which aimed at ensuring national security, stabilization and population growth, while also seeking to meet labour, innovation and economic competitiveness needs.

Togo was experiencing rural to urban migration, particularly among youth, many of whom came to cities seeking a better way of life, said that country’s representative, adding that many young people moved on, undertaking perilous journeys out of the country where they experienced vulnerability and violations of their rights.  Sharing strategies and resources at the regional and international levels was imperative to successfully address migration challenges, she said.

Some representatives underscored the negative impacts of migration, including Nepal’s delegate who pointed to the loss of human capital, separation of families and other social and economic costs in countries of origin.  Policies must address those and other pressing concerns while also reducing transfer costs of remittances and increasing the financial literacy of migrants and their families, he said.

Delegates raised other concerns, including Libya’s representative, calling attention to his nation’s turbulent transitional stage in which migrants exploited the vulnerable situation on the ground.  Libya was currently experiencing mass displacement and an inability to provide basic services, he said, emphasizing that given the importance of global migration and its negative implications on fragile countries such as his own, discussions must be held at the international level.

Meanwhile, Tunisia’s delegate underlined the positive contributions migrants made towards inclusive growth and sustainable development.  He also called for the full respect and protection for all human rights of refugees and migrants and advocated for enhanced cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination.

In the afternoon, the Commission held a panel discussion on “Cities at the forefront of receiving migrants:  experiences and lessons learned”, during which panellists and participants discussed the special challenges urban centres faced and best practices.

Delivering statements today were representatives of Swaziland, Cabo Verde, Netherlands, Syria, Zambia, Myanmar, Samoa, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, United States, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Gambia, Bolivia, Malaysia, Algeria, Uganda, Bangladesh, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates and Senegal, as well as the Holy See and the State of Palestine.

Also speaking were representatives of the International Organization for Migration, Partners for Population and Development, International Labour Organization, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The representatives of Israel and the State of Palestine spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Commission on Population and Development will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 12 April to continue its annual session.


MDUDUZI DIAMINI, Minister for the Tinkhundla Administration and Development of Swaziland, said that since 30 per cent of his country’s population lived in urban and peri‑urban areas, the Government was actively pursuing affordable housing strategies and programmes for urban dwellers to mitigate the spread of slums.  It was also committed to partnering to create sustainable cities.  A regional development fund was established to eradicate poverty and minimize the dichotomy between rural and urban centres.  Other progress included a recently completed digital population and housing census, which would provide insight on population location, internal and international migration and national policy development, and a newly passed act to assist asylum seekers and refugees.

OMAR A. A. ANNAKOU (Libya), associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, and the African Group, underlined a need to commit to the implementation of decisions made at the 1994 Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, bearing in mind the principle of national sovereignty.  As many countries were affected by rural to urban human mobility and the cross‑border movement of migrants, sustainable cities should be created to absorb the influx of people.  Calling attention to Libya’s turbulent transitional stage, he said effects had included mass displacement and the inability to provide basic services.  Given the importance of global migration and its negative implications on fragile countries, discussions must be held at the international level through the adoption of a global compact on safe, orderly and regulated migration, he said, citing the impact on Libya of the large number of international migrants, particularly those seeking to exploit the fragile situation on the ground.

JOSÉ LUIS FIALHO ROCHA (Cabo Verde) said the urban population in his country, currently at 65 per cent, was growing due to the movement of people from rural to urban areas.  As such, the Government had begun to implement policies and strategies aimed at addressing various urban development challenges and also sought to create conditions whereby rural life was more attractive to populations in order to reduce demographic pressures and inequalities.  Cabo Verde recognized international migration as a global and multidimensional phenomenon of economic and social importance.

MELODI TAMARZIANS, Youth Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of the Netherlands, called on Governments to meaningfully engage young people within their delegations to ensure the Commission was a more inclusive space.  She urged every country to take more responsibility for the health and well‑being of its population by investing more in sexual and reproductive health and rights.  As they were directly impacted by Government policies, young people must be involved in that process, particularly as they had the ability to make change for themselves and their communities.  Emphasizing that sexual and reproductive health and rights were inalienable human rights, she called on Governments to integrate those issues into policies and interventions.

ROUA SHURBAJI (Syria), associating herself with the Group of 77, said there was a lack of collective will to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Syria’s main development approach was based on ensuring the dignified and safe return of all Syrian refugees or displaced persons, within and outside the country.  In that context, the Government was seeking to provide basic services and infrastructure as well as appropriate economic and social development conditions.  The Government was doing its utmost to implement a national strategy and vision for the future based on the needs of displaced persons, with an emphasis on avoiding any significant demographic changes in urban areas and the preservation of the historic social fabric of Syria.  The Government had also adopted methods to link the population’s economic activity, resource distribution and overall development vision.

LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE (Zambia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said his country’s current urban population was expected to rise to 45.5 per cent by 2030 from the current 39.5 per cent, posing challenges for sustainable development.  Efforts were being implemented to increase the provision of basic social services in rural areas and reduce the rate of the rural‑urban flows.  As a country of origin, transit and destination, including for refugees and asylum seekers coming from neighbouring countries, Zambia was developing infrastructure, with assistance from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

IGOR KHARITONOV, Head of Division, Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, said population, mobility and international migration had significant impacts on sustainable development, adding that assistance must be provided to States suffering from natural disasters or armed conflict.  Facing complex migration challenges required international harmony, he said, calling attention to related processes and their significant impact on socioeconomic development.  Migration growth had compensated for more than half of the natural population loss of the Russian Federation, he said, highlighting his country’s migration policy, which aimed at ensuring national security, stabilization, population growth and meeting labour, innovation and economic competitiveness needs.  Having up‑to‑date demographic data was important for the development of policies and programmes for the further implementation of the Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda.

LOK BAHADUR POUDEL CHHETRI (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77, highlighted some of migration’s negative effects, including the loss of human capital, separation of families and other social and economic costs in the countries of origin.  Policies must address those and other pressing concerns while also reducing transfer costs of remittances and increasing the financial literacy of migrants and their families.  Nepal was experiencing rapid urbanization driven by those in search of better livelihoods and economic opportunities.  As a result, the Government had pursued planned and strategic investments in sustainable cities with a view towards harnessing the potential of rural‑urban linkages, particularly with regard to poverty eradication.

NYI NYI, Deputy Director General, Population Department of Myanmar, aligning himself with the Group of 77, said his country attached great importance to the role that could be played by youth, which comprised more than 35 per cent of the population.  Addressing the housing gap was a challenge in the context of high mobility and rapid urbanization, he said, noting that infrastructure development projects were being implemented as part of a master plan to address Yangon’s population growth, currently at 5.2 million.  Protecting migrants was another national priority, he said, adding that 4.25 million Myanmar nationals were living abroad, with over 70 per cent in Thailand.  Myanmar had successfully conducted a nationwide population and housing census in 2014, supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other partners, and migration data would enhance the formulation of related policies.

MALILIGA PESETA (Samoa) said population was a crucial part of her country’s national development framework.  The Samoa Population Action Plan highlighted key areas such as relocation and migration from rural to urban areas, emigration, immigration, changing age structures, education and the impact of human settlement on the environment.  A 2016 census report provided user‑friendly statistical information for planning and programme intervention.  As a country vulnerable to climate change consequences and the increasing frequency and intensity of disasters in the region, Samoa’s infrastructure development progress had been destroyed by recent tropical cyclones and flooding, which had resulted in relocating communities to higher grounds.

ISRAEL CHOKO DAVIES (Liberia) said every effort must be undertaken to ensure that cities and communities were inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable in light of population shifts.  Liberians were once on the move due to civil upheaval, but that was no longer the case, he said, adding that the country was grateful and could relate to the factors that forcefully displaced populations.  To enhance the key actions, targets and goals of the Programme of Action, adequate resources were required at domestic and international levels.  Resource mobilization was also needed to address other social and economic matters, such as strengthening health and education sectors, improving the empowerment of women, addressing environmental concerns and eradicating poverty.  Cooperation and partnerships must help to strengthen existing policies and create new approaches to address mobility and migration.

RAMZI LOUATI (Tunisia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said more than 1 million Tunisians lived abroad, 83 per cent in Europe, underlining the positive contributions migrants made towards inclusive growth and sustainable development.  Tunisia called for the full respect and protection for all human rights of refugees and migrants and advocated for enhanced cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination.  Aware of the link between sustainable development and gender equality, Tunisia had embarked on the path of comprehensive sexual education.  Family planning was an imperative to ensure the well‑being of women, children, young people and society as a whole.  The Government had spared no effort in investing in education and health services, with results showing a near parity enrolment rate for six‑year‑old girls and boys, and women making up 62.6 per cent of higher education students.  Highlighting other measures, he said Tunisia had adopted in 2017 a comprehensive law on combating violence against women.

ROSAJILDA VÉLEZ, Director, Studies Unit of Economic Policies, Planning and Development of the Dominican Republic, associating herself with the Group of 77, said her country had the largest number of immigrants in the region and the third highest number of nationals in the diaspora, the latter comprising 1.3 million people, or 13 per cent of the population.  Currently, immigrants made up 5.6 per cent of population.  A total of 3.6 people out of every 1,000 in the country were immigrants, although that was expected to decline to 1.8 per cent by 2050, and of the 400,000 immigrants, 80 per cent were Haitian nationals.  The rural population of the Dominican Republic was decreasing, with 86 per cent of the population expected to be concentrated in urban areas by 2030, which would have an impact on the provision of social services.  Economic growth had generated an increase in jobs, which was being met by immigrant labour, in the agricultural, construction and service sectors.

RUBÉN ESCALANTE-HASBÚN (El Salvador) underscored the importance of introducing and strengthening the language in the Commission’s draft resolution using concepts that were in line with the session’s theme, including slum upgrades, dignified returns and links among cities, climate change and pollution.  The Programme of Action was a crucial and valid strategic framework that addressed critical areas, he said, expressing concern about the regression in the language related to commitments to the instrument and emphasizing a need to move forward rather than backward in that regard.

LAURIE SHESTACK PHIPPS (United States) said her country sought to address the root causes of dangerous irregular migration in origin countries through their overseas development programmes that provided increased educational and income‑generating opportunities.  The United States was a leader in providing life‑saving humanitarian assistance to those fleeing persecution and torture, she said, encouraging Governments to increase their assistance to refugees and vulnerable migrants.  The United States had played a prominent role in developing international recommendations on migration data and was committed to helping countries to develop their capacity to collect, analyse and disseminate data.  The Government remained a steadfast leader within the humanitarian community on the protection of women and girls, particularly through addressing gender‑based violence through programming tailored to their needs.  A bilateral maternal and child health programme had reached 25 countries, saving the lives of 4.6 million children and 200,000 women since 2008.

MADHUKA SANJAYA WICKRAMARACHCHI WICKRAMARACHCHIGE (Sri Lanka) said factors influencing migration were mainly economic and 1.9 million Sri Lankans were migrant workers.  Urbanization had been relatively slow in Sri Lanka, with a shift in the internal migration pattern from urban to suburban.  As foreign workers could be an economic and social asset for both countries of origin and destination, he said Sri Lanka prioritized international migrants’ health.  To address those and related issues, an interministerial and inter‑agency coordination framework provided, among other things, health screening of all incoming migrants.  Bearing in mind the importance of sustainable cities, Sri Lanka had launched the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project, an urban planning, zoning and development initiative aimed at creating a planned megapolis by 2030, with the particular goal of serving the rapidly growing number of older people in rural areas.

THAVRAK TUON, Secretary of State, Ministry of Planning of Cambodia, said that national demographics had shown solid progress over the past two decades, including deep shifts in age structure, families and fertility.  While inter‑rural population movement had been prevalent in the past, a recent trend had seen a shift toward rural‑urban flows and a marked increase in cross‑border migration.  The Government had emphasized the issues of migration and urbanization management in its second national population policy, and put forth a number of initiatives within the national social protection policy framework aimed at protecting vulnerable populations living in urban areas and ensuring their access to basic services.  Population flows had social and human rights implications, including the need for the humane treatment of migrants, refugees and displaced persons.  Such issues could not be resolved by countries acting in isolation, he said, calling for greater coordination and joint initiatives.

ABDOULIE BAH, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Office of the Vice President and Ministry of Women's Affairs of Gambia, said a high rate of internal and international migration had affected his country’s structure and pattern of settlements, as those arriving had tended to settle in urban agglomerations where employment opportunities and social amenities were more available.  However, dense population concentration in cities had resulted in rising unemployment and urban poverty.  Meanwhile, the agricultural sector’s low productivity had resulted in high unemployment of young people, forcing them to migrate, with many going to Europe.  The Government continued to create opportunities for Gambian youth, but such initiatives required massive investments from partners and the donor community.

Mr. PARDO (Bolivia) said migratory movements and the large number of people in urban areas had translated into the greater use of public services in cities and changes in the nation’s demographic profile and socioeconomic model.  Migrants were not a homogenous block, nor did they migrate for the same reason, as reflected in recent trends.  As such, the Government was establishing policies examining the origins and needs of all groups.  Migration issues should be considered within planning models with differentiated criteria for all regions.  Current challenges also included the rising concentration of people in a few cities, which strained public services, and the depopulation of remote areas.

ABDUL SHUKUR ABDULLAH, Director General, National Population and Family Development Board of Malaysia, said that since the 1970s, his country had witnessed a threefold increase in its urbanization level.  Internal migration in Malaysia was not only categorized by rural‑urban flows, but also by populations seeking better livelihoods.  As a result, Malaysia had established and implemented a national urbanization policy and adopted a new urban agenda aimed at creating cities that were inclusive, safe and equitable.  Further, the Government had pursued measures to ensure that the rights and welfare of migrant workers were protected.

MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said a series of reforms had resulted in strengthening individual and collective rights and freedoms.  Algeria’s achievements in participatory democracy, free health services, education, housing, combating poverty, strengthening national solidarity and gender equality were supported by many development initiatives, including a five‑year economic recovery support programme.  As a transit and destination country for migrants, Algeria had been facing an unprecedented migratory flow in the recent years.  Algeria was also constantly promoting a comprehensive and integrated approach based on a need to address security, human rights issues and the root causes of irregular migration.

ENYONAM VICTORINE BADOHOUN WOMITSO, Director, Population Studies of Togo, said 60 per cent of the refugees and 80 per cent of the displaced persons around the world — the majority being women, girls and young people — were living in cities.  Considering that adolescents were a major resource for development and key drivers of social change and technological innovation, it was vital to make use of their potential in the demographic dividend by investing in human capital.  Togo was experiencing rural to urban migration, particularly among youth, many of whom came to cities seeking a better way of life, she said, adding that many young people then undertook perilous journeys out of the country where they experienced vulnerability and violations of their rights.  Sharing strategies and resources at regional and international levels was imperative to successfully address migration challenges.

WILBERFORCE KISAMBA‑MUGERWA (Uganda), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said high fertility rates had led to 47.9 per cent of Uganda’s population being younger than 15 years of age.  To address large numbers of youth migrating to cities in search of work, and challenging consequences such as crime and slums, Uganda has adopted a multifaceted approach focused on infrastructure development, tourism, job creation for the youth and environmental management.  Uganda was also providing access to family planning and working to improve child survival and women’s education.  The Government had invested heavily in education, including by launching in 2016 its Youth Policy and Action Plan.  For its part, Uganda hosted 1.4 million refugees and asylum seekers from neighbouring countries, putting increased pressure on already constrained social services, including shelter, he said, emphasizing the Government’s commitment to ensuring their access to such services and the protection of their human rights.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of 77, said his country was experiencing rapid urbanization and unprecedented human mobility toward city centres.  To address those and other urbanization‑related challenges, Bangladesh had adopted a whole‑of‑society and whole‑of‑Government approach.  States must recognize that the movement of large populations into towns and cities had significant positive impacts, while also being responsive to the variety of challenges posed by such trends.

JOSEPHINE KIBARU-MBAE, Director General, National Council for Population and Development of Kenya, aligning herself with the African Group and the Group of 77, said her country was implementing Vision 2030, including national medium‑term plans and flagship projects on urban development, human mobility and international migration.  The National Spatial Plan 2015‑2045 was also being implemented to ensure optimal productivity, sustainability, efficiency and equity in land use and territorial space.  Several plans had been undertaken to improve housing, services and livelihoods for the urban poor, as well as to develop small- and medium‑sized urban centres to ease pressure on Nairobi.  The Government was developing an internally displaced persons policy as challenges remained to account for and manage their resettlement.  Efforts were under way to combat trafficking and smuggling of migrants, but Kenya’s long and porous borders made it challenging.  Although Kenya had registered substantial increases in the amount of remittances, their actual size was believed to be even larger since inflows through informal channels were unrecorded.

Interactive Dialogue

In the afternoon, the Commission held a panel on “Cities at the forefront of receiving migrants:  experiences and lessons learned”.  Moderated by John Wilmoth of the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the panel featured presentations by:  Doug Saunders, author and journalist at the Globe and Mail; Alice Charles, leader of Cities and Urban Development at the World Economic Forum; Hazem Galal, a PricewaterhouseCoopers partner and global leader of its Cities and Local Government Sector; and Marcela Cerrutti of the Center for Population Studies and the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research of Argentina.

Mr. WILMOTH said cities were the hub of economic activities that often served as immigrant gateways.  Given that the drivers of migration were most often felt at the local level, local authorities had an important role to play.  The panellists would explore the ways in which planning should take shape on the local level in light of those realities.

Mr. SAUNDERS said international migration was one of the top policy concerns in many countries, as was the growth of cities.  Nevertheless, those two topics were seldom discussed together.  Cities did not have the policy levers to control migration, while national Governments did not have the ability to control the factors that led people to settle elsewhere.  It had not yet “sunk in” that the solutions to the problems of international migration, both crisis and economic migration, were almost all found on the municipal level.  Until recently, many cities viewed migratory growth as being a problem, and the old understanding of international migration focused almost exclusively on “sending” and “receiving” countries.  The fundamental question was how cities could work to remove barriers to success for migrants who were settling in new urban areas, including physical, institutional, economic and political obstacles, and the ability of migrants to be accepted as de facto citizens.

Ms. CHARLES said World Economic Forum data showed that 1 in 7 people in the world were migrating, including internally and internationally.  Migrants contributed up to $6.9 trillion, or 9.4 per cent of the global gross domestic product, she said, noting that the United States was the top destination for migrants, followed by Saudi Arabia, Germany, Russian Federation and the United Kingdom.  Clear migration corridors showed where people were coming from.  North America and Canada were traditional centres of migration, but there were also new centres such those in Eastern Europe and Latin America.  The city with the highest number of foreign‑born inhabitants was Dubai, followed by Brussels, Toronto, Oakland, Sydney, Los Angeles and Singapore.  The causes of migration tended to be generally economic in nature, she said, underscoring that many people migrated due to unemployment, moving to new urban centres in search of job opportunities.  Other push factors included political instability, violent conflict, inadequate urban services, climate change and crop failure.  The most prominent pull factors were a better quality of life, family reunification and an abundance of natural resources.

Mr. GALAL said cities must be ready for the inevitable migration cycles that were being witnessed.  Those cycles could be either vicious or virtuous.  Policies would be very influential in that regard, including those for the incorporation of migrants into their new urban centres.  The reception of migrants was of critical importance and would play a part in their full experience.  Civic engagement and the representation of migrant communities within civil society was also vital, as was leadership from city representatives.  The private sector also needed to be actively engaged in the formulation of policies.  There were several examples of the private sector providing technologies and opportunities to those in refugee camps that allowed them to work remotely and to make economic contributions.

Ms. CERRUTTI said international migrants preferred to reside in cities where employment activities were more widely available, as were opportunities for cultural immersion.  If cities failed to establish adequate policies, migrants would remain socially and spatially segregated even years after their arrival.  Cities in the South faced different challenges than those in the North, particularly with regard to how resources were distributed.  International migration had become more diverse in terms of motivation, educational profiles, expectations and migratory status.  Information on living conditions and social integration were critical for the development of policies, as was census data.  Understanding the links between migration and development required a strong understanding of the socioeconomic and political circumstances that created certain challenges.  Further complicating policy development was the fact that decisions were sometimes being made by different levels of Government and by authorities from different political affiliations.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates sought advice from the panel on best practices to integrate migrants into societies and handle the ageing of urban populations.

Ms. CERRUTTI said regularizing migrants with residencies and official permits was a solution to ease the vulnerability of those populations.  Working closely with civil society and immigrant organizations was also key to integrate them into society.

Mr. SAUNDERS said it was possible to predict where migrants would settle depending on the location of economic opportunities, network of people with similar backgrounds and the affordability of living.  Population ageing was a consequence of urban migration, and he said that international immigration was one of the solutions.

Ms. CHARLES pointed out that some countries saw technology as a solution to the ageing of urban populations.

Mr. GALAL cited the example of Amman, Jordan, which was receiving migrants with a variety of purchasing power.  As such, the Government was able to successfully absorb different waves of migrants.

Mr. WILMOTH said migration was not a solution to ageing populations.  However, migration could slow down the pace of population ageing because migrants were traditionally young.

Ms. CHARLES said networks of mayors partnering with civil society and the private sector would be efficient platforms to fast‑track solutions on migration and share best practices.

Mr. GALAL cited several Canadian cities and Dubai as good examples of migrant integration.

Also participating in the dialogue were representatives of the Dominican Republic, Zambia, Nigeria, Cuba, Mexico and Senegal.


MIRGUL MOLDOISAEVA (Kyrgyzstan) said today more than 700,000 people in her country were labour migrants, with $2 billion of remittances comprising a third of her country’s gross domestic product.  Despite positive aspects of migration, there were also problems, she said, noting that young people and women were particularly vulnerable to violence and an increased risk of exploitation when in unfamiliar environments.  For its part, Kyrgyzstan was committed to implementing the Programme of Action and had thus far achieved positive results, she said, adding that life expectancy was growing and maternal deaths had dropped dramatically.  Nevertheless, due to its location, her country was particularly vulnerable to atmospheric air pollution.  She expressed hope that Kyrgyzstan could pursue economic progress without the degradation of its environment.  Toward that end, it had launched various initiatives to support sustainable development.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) said his country was one of sustainable development’s success stories, having mainstreamed family planning programmes, improved access and quality to reproductive health services and reduced maternal and infant mortality rates on par with developed countries.  Going forward, its challenge was to ensure that health care, education, sanitation, water, housing and a safe, clean environment was provided equally to all.  It was also looking to improve the management of internal migration of people from the islands to its capital city for better employment and education opportunities.  However, in small island developing States, human mobility and migration faced unique challenges, including in the provision of services and the development of profitable economic activities.  In that regard, he underlined the importance of attracting financing to smaller countries like his.

SYLVIE DOS SANTOS (Luxembourg), aligning herself with the European Union, said the evolution of its population had fuelled its economic development.  Located at the heart of Europe, Luxembourg was a small country and had to be open to others.  Without migration from Southern Europe it would not have been able to develop as it had and successfully transform into a service economy.  Indeed, nearly 40 per cent of Luxembourg’s salaried workers came from across the border from neighbouring countries.  They were indispensable, she said, adding that immigration had contributed to her nation’s multiculturalism and prosperity.  Committed to education and health, particularly in support of women and girls, Luxembourg also made voluntary contributions to and strongly cooperated with UNFPA.

HESSA MUNEER MOHAMMED RASHED ALATEIBI (United Arab Emirates), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and the Arab Group, stressed the importance of long‑term urban planning as an engine for social and economic growth.  The Government was deeply committed to diversity, and inclusion was critical to the country.  Education and awareness‑raising campaigns were used to show the benefits of inclusion.

GORGUI CISS (Senegal), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said his was an origin, transit and receiving country for migration.  Senegal had just adopted a new national policy to address all related challenges with relevant stakeholders.  The policy aimed at promoting migration and considering the country’s priorities for its current five‑year plan ending in 2022.  Its implementation required support from financial partners.  Because difficult access to jobs for young people was a major cause of migration, the Government was addressing the issue of youth unemployment, including by creating tailored local services.  The Government was also committed to establishing structures and resources for a consistent policy framework for related strategies and interventions.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said combating the scourge of poverty and addressing the root causes of migration would require long‑term investments in education, health care, urban planning and access to social protection and housing.  Indeed, human‑centred investments were critical to making migration sustainable in the future.  Many countries had been overwhelmed by migration flows stemming from conflict and disasters and there was a lack of political will to receive those migrants with the dignity they deserved.  Many were forced to take irregular migratory routes and had fallen victim to exploitation.  Due to globalization, the decision taken by one country directly impacted another, he said, emphasizing that States must take responsibility for the impact of their decisions on their neighbours.  The Commission on Population and Development provided an opportunity for the international community to recommit to the problems of people on the move, which required greater solidarity at home and abroad.

ABDULLAH ABU SHAWESH, observer for the State of Palestine, said early predictions of population trends were important to development planning.  The Palestinian population had drastically been reduced over the years, he said, underlining that Israel had enacted the law of return — a racist law based on religion.  Fifty years of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory had resulted in deep transformations of the demographic composition of Palestine.  Since 1967, Israel had adopted many military decrees to exercise systemic ethnic cleansing.  In particular, the demolition of houses and the building of illegitimate settlements, as well as scores of other policies, continued to lead to the migration of Palestinians.  Israeli settlements such as Hebron had made life hell for Palestinians, he said, highlighting the need for different approach to Palestine’s demographic situation.

ASHRAF EL NOUR, Director of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Office to the United Nations, said cities should play a role in developing migration policies.  In addition, migration and urban planning should be linked.  Local authorities should be equipped with tools to deal with settlements of newcomers, enable the positive contributions from migrants to cities and combat xenophobia and racism.  Decentralized efforts and South‑South cooperation should also be enhanced.

HU HONGTAO, Executive Director, Partners on Population and Development, recognized the unique challenge of urban migration, particularly ageing populations in cities.  Access to reproductive health should be improved and South‑South cooperation was a good platform to share good practices.

VINICIUS CARVALHO PINHEIRO, Director and Special Representative to the United Nations of the International Labour Organization (ILO), said migrant workers faced discrimination in too many countries.  Such workers often worked in precarious job sectors, often low‑skilled and with high risks and costs.  Further, exploitation in the recruitment process was widespread and could result in trafficking and debt bondage.  When policies were not grounded in international labour standards, migrant workers could be denied fundamental principles and rights.  Overall, labour migration would continue to be a central reality of economic growth and productivity for many countries and host cities.

NRITYA SUBRAMANIAM, of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, highlighted that currently 54 per cent of the world’s population lived in cities, which were vulnerable to many risks.  Common standards were needed across borders, she said, calling for developing smarter, greener cities, citing the Geneva Charter on Sustainable Housing as a framework for smarter and more sustainable urban centres.  The Economic Commission for Europe was committed to developing the capacities of local authorities, especially those with lower‑income cities, to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.  The Economic Commission also hosted regional forums to review global commitments and was committed to making cities better places to live to ensure no one was left behind.

PAULO MURAD SAAD, of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), said that several studies had been published over the years and created a data bank on migration.  For its part, ECLAC leveraged its work on migration through key partnerships in the region.

Right of Reply

The representative of Israel, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the Palestinian leadership had denied its own people money that had been meant for development and had used it for terrorism.  The Palestinians’ claim of the right of return had no relevance for the Commission and should be negotiated between Israel and the State of Palestine.

An observer for the State of Palestine said the statement that had been delivered earlier by his delegation had been documented even by Israeli academics.

For information media. Not an official record.