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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

08 July 2021



Ambassador Enrique A. Manalo, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations,

Ambassador Francisco Duarte Lopes, Permanent Representative of Portugal to the United Nations,

Representatives of the United Nations Network on Migration Stakeholders from Asia and the Pacific and Europe,

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to join this very timely side event on the Global Compact for Migration (GCM).

International migration has been a key accelerator of sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific and beyond.

There are almost 107 million people from our region living outside their countries of birth. They make up about 40 per cent of the world’s migrants and contribute to economic and social development both within and beyond our borders.

There are also some 65 million international migrants living in Asia and the Pacific, 70 per cent of whom come from within the region. They embody the region’s dynamism, adaptability and future, each person seeking to better themselves and contribute to the communities from which they come and the communities to which they migrate.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

In March 2021, countries in Asia and the Pacific conducted a review of implementation of the Global Compact for Migration. They were joined by a large and diverse group of stakeholders. The meeting was chaired by the Philippines, supported by Bangladesh, Indonesia and Thailand. It used ESCAP’s intergovernmental platform and was supported by the Regional UN Network on Migration for Asia and the Pacific.

Let me summarize the main findings of our meeting as they relate to the review of the 2030 Agenda this year and suggest some follow-up actions.

First, member States reiterated their commitment to implementing the GCM and the 2030 Agenda. They noted that achieving the SDGs would further the implementation of the GCM and vice versa. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has further hindered the regional implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development confirmed that the region is unlikely to achieve the 17 Goals by 2030. All SDGs under review at the HLPF this year relate directly to migration, and they must include migrants if the Goals are to be achieved.

SDG 8, on decent work and economic growth, is particularly relevant for Asia and the Pacific. In a region where the informal sector of the economy is strong and temporary labour migration dominant, it is important to have full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including migrants. Many countries still lack safe and regular pathways for migration, presenting steep challenges to migrant workers in the informal sector, particularly domestic workers. The adverse effects of inequalities and climate change result in unsafe and disorderly migration. In this context, it is crucially important to implement well-planned and managed migration policies, invest in skills development, supply social protections, and act on the climate crisis, in line with SDG 10 on reduced inequalities and SDG 13 on climate action.

Second, the region faces challenges in implementing migration policies that comply with national and international laws. SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions, under review this year is also relevant in this context. The smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons are deeply embedded in the socio-economic dynamics of the region. There are still obstacles to birth registration, especially for migrants in irregular situations. Alternatives to detention should be explored. Too often, age- and sex-disaggregated data on migrants and their circumstances are not available. Countries should protect and fulfil the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their status. Such policies must be gender-responsive and child-sensitive.

Third, despite these challenges, the region has made progress in cooperation, partnership and a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach in implementing the GCM, including at subnational levels, in line with SDG 17 on partnerships for the goals. Since most migration in Asia and the Pacific is regional in nature, these approaches and initiatives are very promising. Due to the large and growing scale of migration between Asia-Pacific countries, it is important to foster and strengthen more bilateral, subregional, regional, and cross regional initiatives, through ASEAN, the Eurasian Economic Union, regional consultative processes, and the many bilateral agreements in Asia and the Pacific.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

In conclusion, let me call on the participants from Asia and the Pacific, in particular the GCM champion countries and the many stakeholders from the region, to lead by example and collaborate with one another in realizing our GCM commitments. By doing so, we will increase our chances of fully implementing the 2030 Agenda and its call to leave no one behind.

For the future, let us make migration a priority in our annual review of the 2030 Agenda - here at the HLPF, at the APFSD, and at the other regional forums on sustainable development organized by our sister regional commissions. We have made an excellent start in 2021 by providing an opportunity for the outcomes of the Asia-Pacific review to be fed into the deliberations of the APFSD.

ESCAP stands ready to support its member States in making migration a central element of the regular review of the 2030 Agenda in Asia and the Pacific and beyond. Let us work together to achieve the SDGs and ensure that no migrant is left behind!

I thank you, and I wish you all a very informative side event.

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