IFAD at the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - day 1

The Mexican town of Puerto Vallarta, formerly a fishermen village and nowadays home to a futuristically-designed brand new Convention Center, is hosting the Fourth Meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD). An IFAD delegation from the Financing Facility for Remittances (FFR) and the Office of the Chief Development Strategist (CDS) is attending all four days of the event, from 8 to 11 November.

The GFMD is a recent initiative of the United Nations Member States to address the migration and development interconnections in practical and action-oriented ways. It is an informal, non-binding, voluntary and government-led process that marks the culmination of more than a decade of international dialogue on the growing importance of the linkages between migration and development. Following the successful meetings held in Bruxelles (2007), Manila (2008) and Athens (2009), the central theme of this year’s event is “Partnerships for migration and human development: shared prosperity – shared responsibility.” The UN system has contributed to t
he setting of the main themes for discussions and roundtables and has been officially invited to follow this years’ Forum. Within this context, IFAD is joining the GFMD 2010 as an observer, but also to showcase its experience with migration, remittances and rural development through a dedicated stand, and get in contact with Government representatives and potential development partner institutions.

A lot of excitement grew upon the whole event since it was announced, as it is demonstrated by the huge affluence in Puerto Vallarta of Government Delegates and representatives from international development institutions, NGOs, and the private sector. In Puerto Vallarta, at the pre-inauguration session in the evening of 7 November, the FFR met some of its grant recipient institutions, now become old friends, such as its partners from Somalia and Sierra Leone. Several new contacts were made as well, by promoting the FFR funding programme dealing with remittances and innovative opportunities for financial inclusion.

Today, Monday 8 November, the GFMD was officially inaugurated, on the first of the two days dedicated to Civil Societies. Participants gathered around simultaneous roundtables to agree on a preliminary draft set of recommendations on the issue of migration and development. Today’s roundtables provided several interesting inputs a set of subjects that are well known to IFAD, such as the past and recent experience in the empowerment of migrant organizations, the impact of migration on economic and social development, the impact of climate change on migration, and the role of gender sensitive migrations policies. The roundtables also offered hints for discussion on some of IFAD’s emerging strategies, such as the building of partnerships with the private sector and the role of inter-regional fora in including the migration and development nexus.

Among the different roundtables held today, the one on “Building Partnership with the Private Sector” was indeed the most animated. It witnessed a non-stop series of interventions from key players from the non-profit and profit sector. Starting with the former, an excellent example of public-private partnership was provided by the Bancomer Foundation. Bancomer has created through the years an impressive network of financial agents operating remittance transfers and managed to re-direct a great portion of funds from the informal transfer channels to the regularized ones. Targeting remittance transfers in the USA-Mexico corridor, “Cuenta Express” is the new product created by Bacomer in collaboration with VISA Inc., allowing remittance transfers through an integrated mobile platform and making transfer services available also from retail “mom & pop” stores. But the partnership process is not being led by the non-profit sector only. Western Union made an excellent showcase of their soon-to-be “support for investment opportunities” initiative, aimed at supporting migrants and their families develop entrepreneurship models for a productive use of remittances. Exploring the wide range of instruments that are or should be made available to migrants willing to start their own business, a special emphasis was put on guarantee instruments and replicable guarantee fund models.

Breaks and pauses were the occasion to promote IFAD’s experience with migration and remittances issues at the IFAD-dedicated stand provided by the Forum’s organizers. Universities, migrants’ associations and financial service providers inquired about the FFR Annual Call for Proposals mechanism and showed concrete interest in submitting grant concepts in the coming months. Most sought areas for future collaboration were the provision of financial instruments to link remittances and micro-insurance and financial literacy initiatives. Representatives from the private sector (including Western Union itself) also came to the IFAD stand seeking opportunities for joint initiatives with the FFR, in countries where the cost of remittance transfers is still too high for the vast majority of rural people.

Tomorrow, Tuesday 9 November, an official set of recommendations on the issue of migration and development will be adopted during the Plenary Session and reported by the IFAD delegation on this blog.