Issue 11, January 2009
homepage > Global Forum on Migration and Development in Athens 2009
Global Forum on Migration and
Development in Athens 2009
Peter Sutherland, special representative of UN secretary general, talking during the plenary session of CSD in Manila
 
Marianna Moschou, secretary of the Board of the Onassis Foundation, giving her acceptance speech for the Athens CSD 2009
Marianna Moschou, secretary of the Board of the Onassis Foundation, giving her acceptance speech for the Athens CSD 2009
The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation will organize the 3rd Civil Society Days (CSD) in Athens next November, in tandem with the 2009 Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD). These two events take place successively: the first on the level of representatives from Civil Society, and the second with the participation of representatives from United Nations member-states.

The Forum takes place every year, alternating between a developed and a developing country. It was held for the first time in July 2007 in Brussels and organizer of Civil Society Day was King Baudouin Foundation. In October 2008 it was held in Manila, with CSD organized by the Ayala Foundation, and in 2010 it will be hosted in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

During a special ceremony on October 28, 2008 the Onassis Foundation, represented by secretary of the Board Mrs. Marianna Moschou, took over the mandate as organizer from the Ayala Foundation of the Philippines.

The Global Forum is a states-led, voluntary, informal, and non-binding dialogue focusing on how migration can help achieve development goals. The Forum was created following a proposal by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. It brings together senior policymakers from around the world to exchange experiences, identify best practices, and foster interstate cooperation in leveraging migration for the benefit of development. The 2009 GFMD will be hosted in Athens by the Greek Ministry of Interior.

In Athens, approximately 200 delegates representing NGOs and other civil society members from around the world will come together for two days to exchange ideas on how best to integrate migration policies into development strategies so that they benefit countries of origin and destination, as well as migrants themselves.

Representatives of King Baudouin Foundation of Belguim and Ayala Foundation of the Philippines posing with Marianna Moschou
Representatives of King Baudouin Foundation of Belguim and Ayala Foundation of the Philippines posing with Marianna Moschou

Participants in the Athens Civil Society Days will draw on their experiences in the field of migration and development to formulate proposals to put forward to government representatives during the GFMD.
“It is with great pleasure that the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation accepts the honour and the challenge to organize the next Civil Society Days in 2009 in Athens”, said Mrs. Marianna Moschou in her acceptance speech.  “In 1922, a 16-year-old boy arrived in Greece as a refugee from the war-ravaged city of Smyrna in Asia Minor. A few months later, he emigrated to Argentina. He was to become one of the world’s most successful shipping magnates, a legendary figure, not only in financial circles but also in the eyes of ordinary people. In his will, Aristotle Onassis established an independent foundation and bequeathed it half his fortune. This foundation, created in 1975, was named in honour of his late son, Alexander.

The Civil Society Days of the Global Forum mark the first time that Onassis Foundation will deal directly with the vital issues of migration and development. Yet the biography of our emigrant founder, Aristotle Onassis, serves as an intimate and important basis for our work in this field. In addition, the Foundation’s core areas of interest—culture, education, health, the environment, and social achievement—are all directly or indirectly connected to migration.

Meanwhile, our home country, Greece, has had an extraordinary experience with migration: Just one generation ago, it was a country of emigration, having sent millions of its sons and daughters to every corner of the world in pursuit of a better life. This diaspora has played an absolutely fundamental role in Greece’s development, contributing to our country’s economic, social, and cultural growth in myriad ways. There are an estimated 5 million or more Hellenes living in almost every country on earth—half as many as the entire population of Greece.

Over the past generation, Greece has been transformed into a country of emigration. Today, approximately 10 percent of our population hails from abroad, primarily from our immediate neighborhood but also from dozens of countries in Africa, the Middle East, and beyond—including tens of thousands of immigrants from the Philippines. So we have had a profound experience as a country of emigration, immigration, and transit.

Migration, and its potential to contribute to development, is one of the most critical issues our world faces today. With full respect for the gravity and complexity of these issues - and for the vital role of civil society in them—we pledge to work hard to host a memorable event that will have a lasting impact”.

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Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation | Tel. +30 210 3713000 | Fax. +30 210 3713013 | Email: pubrel@onassis.gr