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Speech by Morgan Johansson "Emerging Global Migration and Mobility, Trends and Issues: A Swedish Perspective"

Published

Dhaka, Bangladesh 11 May 2016

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Thank you so much Your Excellency for welcoming me to Dhaka. Let me say how glad I am to be here and to be able to address all of you together with Your Excellency.

Let me also congratulate you on taking on the very important task of chairing the Global Forum for Migration and Development or "GFMD". I know that you are making tremendous progress as chair and that you are steering this process forward in an impressive manner.

Sweden will continue to be strongly committed to the GFMD-process. The GFMD dialogue has succeeded in creating greater trust between countries: countries of destination, transit and origin.

Throughout the years, Sweden and Bangladesh have had a close and fruitful partnership within the GFMD process. Our countries have become and remain true partners and allies in the field of global migration and development. This is true not only within the GFMD-context. Together, we have achieved a lot.

Migration and Development, 2030 Agenda

I am especially proud that Sweden and Bangladesh, together with a few other main advocates, succeeded in including migration in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Together we have created a framework that can help us foster the positive effects of migration on development.

We now need to deliver on the commitments we have made. We also need to ensure that these development effects are harnessed for the benefit of all. That means countries of origin, countries of destination and the migrants and their families. In order to attain these development effects, we need to ensure that migrants migrate out of choice and not out of necessity.

In SDG 10.7 of the 2030 Agenda, we have committed to "facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies". This means that we shall reform our migration policies and other policies in order for them to contribute to global development.

I see four areas that we need to focus on in particular in order to increase the development effects of migration:

First, remittances: Migrants send back approximately 440 billion US dollars a year to low- and middle income countries. These remittances constitute more than three times the volume of official development aid going to the same countries. These flows are of course private funds, but still make important contributions to development. This is true not just for the recipients. It is also true for societies as remittances increase investments in education and health care, as well as stimulate consumption.

However, further efforts are needed. Many countries have a long way to go to reach the SDG of less than 3 percent transfer costs of remittances. Sweden is one of these countries. To reduce the transfer costs of remittances, the Swedish Government launched a website - Money from Sweden –in December last year. It aims at putting pressure on reducing the transfer costs by comparing prices for transfers.

Other areas we need to focus on are financial literacy, including gender-sensitive financial literacy, and enhancing access to financial services.

Second, let me move on to labour migration. Labour migration offers opportunities for economic development and acquisition of knowledge and skills. However, this is only possible if migrants receive fair terms of employment, including equal pay. Labour migration can be a complement to domestic labor shortages in certain sectors and can compensate for an ageing population. Furthermore, all countries prosper economically from diversity among the population, which evolves into business diversity and thus economic resilience.

We should facilitate so-called "circular migration". By this I mean that people can move legally back and forth between countries. Through facilitating circular migration, migrants can become empowered as agents of development by being able to utilize their acquired knowledge, skills and networks in both countries of origin and destination.

Third, let us focus on the empowerment of migrants. Migrant empowerment is built on the twin pillars of rights and opportunity. You need a legal framework that safeguards migrants' human rights. You also need a policy framework that allows migrants to claim their rights and to access opportunities. Together, these aspects form the foundation upon which empowerment and positive development outcomes can be realized. However, putting these frameworks in place are not enough; we need to ensure the implementation of these frameworks. This includes providing possibilities for access as well as resources to migrants.

We need to prevent labor exploitation and discrimination of migrants, both nationally and globally. We also need to lower the wage gaps between migrants and nationals. In the 2030 Agenda, we have committed to protecting the rights of migrants, including migrant workers' rights. My Government takes these responsibilities very seriously. We have, for example, recently appointed a commission of inquiry to propose measures to strengthen labor migrants' rights in the labor market.

Fourth, this leads us to look at the recruitment process for migrant workers. Low-skilled workers sometimes end up paying a third of their foreign earnings in recruitment costs. Recruitment costs often lead to indebtedness. I believe we need to step up our efforts to address the issue of corrupt and unethical recruitment practices, including excessive fees. We need partnerships with the private sector. For these reasons, my Government is supporting the development of the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS). IRIS will be a global and voluntary certification system for recruitment agencies in accordance with a Code of Conduct.

Lastly, governments can play an important role in supporting development initiatives by the diaspora. Members of diaspora communities contribute to skills transfers and transfers of social norms, ideas and behaviors. They also make investments and promote trade between countries of origin and destination.

Succeeding in all of this, we will make enormous progress toward protecting the rights of migrants and enhancing their development impact.

Global processes

We know that migration is a driver of human progress and development. It is one of the defining phenomena of our time. People have migrated throughout history to seek a better future for themselves and their families. These are also among the driving forces behind the large migration and refugee flows we now see around the world.

Today's large migration and refugee flows show the need for improved cooperation and coordination between countries. This is a global issue, and we need to act in partnership – between countries, regions and organisations, with civil society and with the people affected. There is an urgent need to find common and long-term solutions.

Sweden therefore welcomes the intensified work at the global level on migration and refugee related issues leading up to the High Level meeting in New York on September 19. Sweden is proud to co-chair the recently established Group of Friends of Migration in New York together with Bangladesh as well as Benin and Mexico. This Group will support the preparation for the UN Summit.

In order to create a strong and stable system, we need a migration organization with a broad and global mandate with corresponding resources for stability. This is why Sweden supports the inclusion of IOM in the UN system.

It is critical that we plan proactively for broad solutions, including resettlement. We need to support and show solidarity with refugees as well as host countries. Let me give a current example from the situation in Syria: It stands clear that countries neighboring Syria cannot alone take responsibility for all refugees and have become overburdened. I saw this myself when I visited Jordan and Lebanon last year. It is important to improve the sharing of responsibility between countries.

We all bring different perspectives and experiences to the global discussion. Sweden is approaching the global dialogue as a major humanitarian and development donor. We are a country that has received 160 000 asylum seekers last year and over 24 per cent of our population is born abroad or has at least one parent who is. We think we might have ideas to share, for example from our new regional Syria strategy that lends support also to neighbouring countries to the conflict. We need to ensure a fruitful collaboration between development actors and private sector. Trade is an important element in addressing the root causes of economic migration. It creates economic opportunities to meet the growing needs by providing market places where both locals and migrants can participate. And we approach this complexity of challenges and opportunities with a sincere sense of humility and as so many other countries have far more serious first hand experiences of this unprecedented refugee crisis that we are in the midst of.

Finding sustainable solutions to large migration and refugee flows is a huge responsibility that we all share, not only a few countries. We need true partnerships between governments. We must act on immediate emergencies but not shy away from the long-term perspective. We must embrace and foster the benefits of migration for sustainable development as well as reduce vulnerabilities.

Both Bangladesh and Sweden have great experience of migration. Our long-term engagement has yielded long-term results. The immigration to Sweden has been a key to Sweden's globalization and prosperity, including our strong economic growth and reduction in unemployment.

The close collaboration between Sweden and Bangladesh in the area of migration is an excellent example of a true partnership. Together we have managed to bring essential issues to the global agenda in order to identify immediate as well as long-term solutions. I look forward to continuing our close collaboration to improve the global governance of migration. Let me also wish you success for the rest of your chairmanship of the GFMD, including a fruitful GFMD-Summit here in Dhaka in December.

Thank you!