The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) 2015 was held at the Lütfi Kirdar – Istanbul Convention and Exhibition Centre between 12 and 16 October 2015 in Istanbul, Turkey. The week opened with the GFMD Civil Society Days (CSD) on 12 and 13 October 2015, followed by “Common Space”on 14 October, and the GFMD Government Days on 15-16 October.

2015 Civil Society Days Theme and Highlights

Reflecting the need to achieve concrete targets and goals to improve the conditions around the world for migrants, this year’s programme developed under the overall theme of “Achieving Migration and Development Goals: Movement Together on Global Solutions and Local Action” – goals in the newly-adopted post-2015 agenda, goals in the 5-Year 8-Point Plan, and goals for civil society working in migration and development in general.

This year’s edition was the biggest yet in GFMD Civil Society Days history, with:

  • A record number of over 800 applications from civil society of 150 countries
  • 360 participants registered to attend the 2015 GFMD Civil Society Days of which:
    • About 280 civil society delegates previously selected by the International Steering Committee, 48% women and 52% men.
    • Close to 40% of civil society delegates represented migrant or diaspora NGOs (98), while a third come from human-rights-focused NGOs (77). The remainder 40% were split between Development NGOs, Labour Organizations, the academic community and the private sector.
    • All regions of the world were widely represented, with registered delegates hailing from 30 countries in Africa; 33 countries in Asia; 25 in countries in Europe; 26 countries in the Americas.
    • At least 20 government guests, including past, present and future GFMD Chairs, with delegates from Bangladesh, Germany, Philippines, Turkey, Switzerland and Sweden in speaking roles.
    • At least 40 observers from international organisations and UN agencies.
  • The programme featured over 80 thought-leaders and discussion starters from civil society and observers

Civil Society Co-Chairs

Mr. Ignacio Packer of Terre des Hommes and Ms. Fatumo Farah of HIRDA were selected, respectively, to act as Chair and Co-chair of this year’s GFMD Civil Society Days.

With over 30 years of experience in humanitarian work and development issues, Ignacio is an international expert on child rights and social issues. As Secretary General he leads the operations of Terre des Hommes, which is a child rights organisation working in 68 countries. Among other campaigns, he leads the “Destination Unknown” on the rights of children in the context of migration.

Fatumo has been the Director of HIRDA since 2007. Founded by members of the Somali diaspora in the Netherlands, HIRDA works with other organisations to find lasting solutions to poverty and human suffering in Somalia. Having been forced to flee her own country more than 20 years ago, Fatumo has since devoted much of her life’s work to lobbying and advocating for recognition of migrants’ contribution to the development and rights protection of people in their home countries.

Plenaries and Working Sessions

2015 has been another dangerous and deadly year for migrants moving across borders in search of safety, new opportunities, or a better life. Therefore, the opening plenary debate on Monday morning of the 2015 CSD was dedicated to testimonies and ideas from migrants, civil society and other thinkers and movers on: “Safe Migration: root causes, route choices and alternatives to forced and dangerous migration.”

The Sustainable Development Goals, which will shape the global development agenda for the next 15 years, were adopted shortly before the GFMD by the UN General Assembly. For the first time, migrants and migration were included as part of the development targets and goals. It is only fitting that the final plenary debate for the 2015 GFMD Civil Society Days “UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) beyond 2015 – civil society’s role in implementing and monitoring migration-related targets” would explore how the SDGs can contribute to the wellbeing, empowerment and rights of migrants, communities and societies and what can and should be civil society’s role in implementation and monitoring.

Four Parallel Working Sessions featuring a wide range of civil society leaders from around the globe picked up from the overall theme and focused on:

  1. SDGs: civil society’s role in creating, implementing and monitoring SDGs, including indicators
  2. Needs-first, then rights-based protection: for migrants in crises and transit, and solutions for forced migrants
  3. Labour rights: reforming policies and practices of migrant worker recruitment and employment
  4. Migrants and diaspora: materializing human rights, inclusion, job creation and social entrepreneurship

For the first time, there were dedicated Rapporteurs for children (Carl Kristiansson from One Third Sweden) and for women (Carol Barton – United Methodist Women, Women &Global Migration Working Group), who collected the main recommendations on these crosscutting themes. All recommendations were categorised into reporting templates, by theme and issue, and are available to download in the Background Documents section.

For more information:

A special edition of the Global Migration and Development Civil Society newsletter on GFMD 2015 was published in the days leading up to the event.

The 2015 GFMD Civil Society Days concept note, Civil Society Chair’s report and report backs from the Parallel Sessions  in the Background Documents section.

All videos from the 2014 and 2015 GFMD Civil Society Days are available on the MADE network’s Youtube channel.

A large selection of photos from the 2015 as well as past editions of the GFMD Civil Society Days are available to view and share via GFMD Civil Society’s Flickr feed