Terre des Hommes’ Secretary General Ignacio Packer took part in two business events last week (commencing 3 April) – at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Latin America in Buenos Aires, Argentina and at the Global Forum on Migration and Development Business Mechanisms (GFMD) in Geneva, Switzerland.

World Economic Forum on Latin America
Argentinian President Mauricio Macri hosted the WEF from 5-7 April, with hundreds of businessmen and political leaders travelling to attend despite a national strike taking place in the country. A large security detail surrounded the forum, based at the Hilton Hotel, to prevent ‘disturbances’.

Participants discussed the region’s political, economic and societal issues, including how to introduce the transparency, agility and long-term stability needed to enhance the regions credibility and improve the business environment.

WEF – Harnessing the Migration Dividend
Ignacio featured on a panel on how Latin America can harness the long-term dividends of migration and achieve improved socio-economic development.

The panel provided an opportunity to show business leaders the importance of businesses fostering partnerships and constructive dialogue with migration stakeholders, and to ensure the private sector is part of the migration policy dialogue.

The panel included Deputy Director-General for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Laura Thompson, Marcela Escobari from the USAID Agency for International Development and Mexico’s Minister of Tourism Enrique de la Madrid Cordero.

With support from figures from Latin America, Ignacio said: “Migration policy has to be built on values enshrined in the Human Rights Conventions and on evidence.”

Inviting business to engage in dialogue through the Global Forum on Migration Business Mechanisms, he continued: “Migrants contribute to diversity, bring new skills, and increase innovation and productivity. But labour markets are not necessarily equipped to employ migrants to their full potential and be respective of their rights.”

“Adapting labour migration systems to respect migrant rights and meet the employers’ needs is important for all parties.”

The need to protect children on the move and the impact safe, orderly and regular migration could have on them was an issue supported by interventions from business representatives during the discussion.

GFMD Business Mechanisms – Enhancing Public-Private Partnership
Ignacio also took part in a plenary session at the GFMD, moderated by Secretary General of the International Organisation of Employers Linda Kromjong, and spoke directly to the interests of companies and the economies where they do business.

Participants in the panel included Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for International Migration Louise Arbour, Chair of the GFMD Business Advisory Group Austin Fragomen and Ambassador for the 2017-2018 GFMD Götz Schmidt- Breme.

Framed by the Global Compacts on Migration, they gave insights on the opportunities of shaping policy measures and frameworks directly affecting companies’ ability to address skills gaps, access and retain talent and ease the cost and risks of cross-border recruitment. The humanitarian challenge and role of the business sector was also discussed.

Ignacio called for businesses to fulfil an advocacy role, saying: “Business can and must promote the successes of migrants, highlighting their positive economic, social and cultural contributions. In their advocacy role, businesses can contribute significantly to counter xenophobia and widespread distortions about migration in society.”

Highlighted by the Initiative on Child Rights in the Global Compacts, which is co-chaired by Terre des Hommes and Save the Children, Ignacio called for a binding Global Compact on Migration.

“If we get a Global Compact which is limited to stating existing principles, we would have wasted our time. This is an incredible opportunity to get SDG-like goals, targets and indicators with a time line.”

Sharing the approach concerning children, Ignacio continued: “Ahead of the GFMD at the end of June, we will have a working document on how the Global Compacts can respect and fulfil existing commitments for children. A civil society enterprise with the expert support of UN agencies and the private sector is essential.”

The World Economic Forum is an international organisation for public-private cooperation committed to improving the state of the world. It engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. Ignacio Packer is also part of the World Economic Forum’s Expert Network, bringing together experts from academia, business, government, international organisations, civil society, the arts and the media committed to improving the state of the world by helping to shape the global agenda.

Determined to fill the empty seat at the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), the Business Mechanism was created at the 2015 summit in Istanbul and endorsed as a permanent feature of the GFMD at the 2016 summit in Dhaka. The mechanism, coordinated by the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and the World Economic Forum (WEF), is a network of companies and employer organisations from eleven sectors of the global economy and all regions of the world. Ignacio Packer has represented civil society in the dialogue since the mechanism’s early stages, and is regularly invited to provide input to it.

Terre des Hommes is involved in a number of dialogue with the business sector, including as member of the Independent Human Rights Advisory Board to FIFA and as a member of the UN Global Compact Switzerland. Terre des Hommes is also active on the Responsible Business Initiative, the Mica sector, the mining industry, the cocoa market and a special focus on the Western Sahara trade.

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