Istanbul including Private Sector

Including the private sector – filling the empty seat at the table

By Bettina Etter, Program Officer, GPMD, SDC, Bern


On the 15-16 May, Turkey, current chair of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), and Switzerland will jointly organize a GFMD private sector meeting in Istanbul. The meeting is to gather private sector and government representatives in order to discuss “the economic impact of skills mobility and its implications for migration policies”, with a specific focus on the challenges of “skills matching” in the ICT and food industry/tourism sectors. The ambition of this meeting is also to lay the ground for a sustainable interaction mechanism between migration policy makers and business leaders on M&D.


The private sector, be that as an employer, recruiter, service provider, business investor or financial institution, plays a pivotal role in labour migration. Public-private partnerships are also regular agenda items of the GFMD. But despite the potential mutual benefits of increased dialogue between policy makers and businesses, the private sector remains absent from policy dialogue on M&D. There is at current no mechanism to ensure its systematic involvement in GFMD discussions. Aware of this gap, the 2011-2012 GFMD already formulated the recommendation to establish a regular consultation mechanism with business leaders. The Swedish GFMD chair 2013/14 took a lead role in gathering the actors and exploring the challenges and opportunities of future private sector engagement in migration policy dialogue. The consultations organized so far show the mutual interest for such a coordination while insisting on the need to focus the exchanges on concrete policy challenges, adapt the working modalities and timeframe to business realities and thus make the benefits of such a dialogue more tangible to the private sector. 


The Istanbul meeting constitutes an opportunity to translate these recommendations into practice and will form the basis of a continued interaction process. It should lay the groundwork for the development of a continuous consultation mechanism with the private sector with the ambition of increased public-private initiatives and policy innovations in the future.