As part of the 2013 UN World Youth Report consultation process, the UN Focal Point on Youth organized a Google+ Hangout on 6 March with a panel of experts and youth representatives to discuss the theme of “Youth Migration and Development: Towards Sustainable Solutions.”
The Hangout explored practical strategies on realizing youth migrants’ potential, protecting their human rights, and promoting their social inclusion — and how these can be achieved through collaborative efforts with youth organizations and other relevant stakeholders.
Harnessing the human development potential of youth migrants
Migrants can be productive members of transit and destination countries as well as contribute to the sustainable development of their countries of origin. They can provide financial as well as social remittances, including innovative ideas, practices, identities and social capital.
Young migrants, especially those in irregular situations and females face multiple challenges throughout the migration process – from pre-departure, in transit, post-arrival and then also in return and reintegration. They are often ill-advised and susceptible to abuse and exploitation. “Information is protection,” remarked Jo Rispoli of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), who stated that migrant youth and youth organizations need to be involved in the three “E’s – engagement by giving them a voice/platform at meetings; enablement through skills and vocation training; and empowerment.”
Youth participation in addressing migration’s challenges can be extremely important. Another panelist, Dynka Amorim, a young migrant himself and coordinator of Bué Fixe, described his organization’s initiative in promoting young migrants access to health care in Portugal. “Regular and irregular migrants are sometimes unaware of their right to health, so we work to inform and engage them on a wide range of HIV/AIDS and sexual reproductive health issues using media platforms like radio and social media,” Dynka added.
Partnerships: From grassroot level to the global arena
In addition to grassroots projects, the panel emphasized the importance of collaboration amongst relevant state and non-state actors to promote the social inclusion and rights of migrants.
Social inclusion is critical to promoting community cohesion and integration of young migrants. “The Swedish government works with civil society partners to promote young migrants’ access to health care and social services for youth. Activities are undertaken to combat racism, xenophobia and social exclusion,” stated Daniel Pettersson of the Swedish Mission to the United Nations.
As migration affects all countries, a Global Forum on Migration and Development has been created for policymakers to understand and discuss migration’s multiple dimensions, its complex impact on global development, and how challenges can be mitigated. Bela Hovy, Chief of DESA’s Population Division, encouraged youth to participate in civil society consultations that are scheduled to take place in July 2013 prior to the 2nd High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development.
Youth civil society representatives can provide contributions during global and national level consultation processes, where they will be able to voice their most pressing issues, priorities and diverse experiences. “Migrant is such a broad concept. We have all different backgrounds and different reasons and ways to migrate. Our needs are different. So it is not going to be a standard success formula for all the migrants,” stated Lonneke van Zundert, a youth representative panelist.
Migration and the post-2015 agenda
With a lot more evidence on the scope, scale and impact of migration on development, there was also discussion on whether migration should be included in the post 2015 agenda.
Migration is seen as an enabler of equitable and sustainable development. The question remains as to how the issue can be integrated into the post 2015 agenda. Reducing the cost of remittances and recruitment fees as well as reducing barriers to migration and protecting the rights of migrants are some of the ways of considering migration within the post 2015 agenda. “We have to think collectively in terms of how these will be phrased, either in terms of goals or as an enabler of the development goals,” remarked Bela Hovy.