World can No Longer Afford to Underestimate the Potential of Engaging Business and Civil Society in Migration Management, Says IOM

Date Publish: 
Sunday, November 26, 2006 - 16:00
Region-Country: 
Switzerland
Europe and Central Asia

Governments have much to gain by forging strong partnerships with
non-state actors such as business and civil society to find ways to
successfully manage today’s global and multi-dimensional
migration patterns, says the International Organization for
Migration (IOM) on the eve of its 92nd Council in Geneva.

IOM’s 120 member states attending the Council, including
the newly admitted Nepal and the Republic of Montenegro, will focus
on “Partnerships in Migration: Engaging Business and Civil
Society” as part of its 2006 International Dialogue on
Migration. The two-day event begins on 28 November.

“In today’s increasingly mobile world where
multi-national links are more and more widespread, migrants can
provide promising economic and social opportunities that the world
can no longer afford to underestimate,” says IOM Director
General Brunson McKinley. “Partnerships between governments,
the private sector, civil society and migrants are instrumental in
identifying challenges and finding workable solutions in the
socio-economic and labour dimensions of migration in
particular.”

IOM’s International Migration and Development Initiative
(IMDI) developed in collaboration with inter-agency partners seeks
to address these issues through concrete
activities.       

Partnerships between governments and the private sector are
especially useful to identify gaps and surpluses in labour markets,
which can then be addressed through appropriate migration and
retention strategies to meet current and future demands of the
global labour market.

This approach can benefit both parties as businesses
increasingly depend on and profit from coherent education and
labour migration policies, while governments seek to benefit from
the insights and resources from the private sector.

Civil society brings an essential human dimension into the
development of migration management policies and ensures the voice
of migrants is heard. NGOs, diaspora organizations and religious
communities can provide networks at local, national and
international levels that can further strengthen relations between
governments and migrant communities and improve integration
processes.   

The private sector and civil society also have a key role to
play in increasing the development impact of remittances on
countries of origin by setting up secure, transparent and low-cost
channels to encourage migrants to invest some of their savings in
development initiatives through diaspora banks, microfinance
institutions, post office networks and credit
unions.  

  

In addition, diasporas can help to encourage and mobilize qualified
migrants to transfer some of their much needed skills to mitigate
the crippling effects of the brain drain on many countries of
origin.      

One example of a how a partnership between business and migrant
diasporas can bring multi-layered benefits to migrants, their home
communities and destination economies and societies, is a programme
supported by IOM, Italian authorities and Italian cooperatives in
Modena.

A cooperative managed by Ghanaian migrants, Ghana Coop, exports
fruit from Ghana to Italy, ploughing profits back into developing
home communities through employment and services such as the
provision of clean electricity. It has also set up a special fund
which channels the migrants’ remittances cheaply and legally
to Ghana. It also guarantees the security, wages and dignity of its
workers.

“We aim to employ over 60 people in a couple of years and
spread over 100 hectares of pineapple plantation in Ghana.
It’s a small test of sustainability which large-scale
enterprises normally don’t take into consideration,”
says GhanaCoop president, Thomas McCarthy, who will be a
participant at the Council.

Such a partnership also illustrates how civil society and the
private sector can contribute to improving and maintaining the
human rights of migrants - an essential component of good migration
management and one acknowledged by IOM’s Business Advisory
Board.

The Board, which was launched during IOM’s 90th Council in
Geneva in November 2005, constitutes an important step towards
better engagement of private sector actors on mobility policies and
practices. The Board is composed of 17 business leaders
representing a cross section of industries and interests
worldwide.