IOM Hosts Seminar on Migration and Sustainable Development in Chile


Earlier this month, the UN Migration Agency (IOM) organised an expert seminar on migration and sustainable development, in Santiago, Chile.

The seminar brought together experts from academia, diplomats and representatives from the public and private sectors to share experiences and identify best practices for managing migration in Chile.

The seminar covered a range of topics ranging from links between migration and sustainable development to the social, economic and business contributions of migrants to the country. Notable speakers included Rubén Beltrán, Ambassador of Mexico; Jaime Esponda, an IOM Expert in International Law; Hermann von Mühlenbrock, President of SOFOFA (one of Chile’s largest business associations) and Luis Riveros, ex-Chancellor of the University of Chile.

The seminar also featured the signing of a cooperation agreement between IOM and the University of Chile’s Faculty of Economy and Business.  

The number of international migrants in Chile has risen from around 83,000 migrants in 1982 to over 477,500 in 2016.

Currently the percentage of migrants in Chile is around 2.7 per cent, according to Chile’s national statistics agency.  Although these numbers are quite low compared to the average percentage of resident migrants in developed countries (11.3 per cent, according to the UN DESA Population Division figures for 2015), this does represent a significant increase in the migrant population in Chile.

Most migrants in Chile are from neighbouring countries – Peru (31.7 per cent), Argentina (16.3 per cent) and Bolivia (8.8 per cent). The proportion of Colombian migrants in Chile has nearly tripled over the last ten years, rising from 2.4 per cent to 6.1 per cent in 2014.

“Chile’s history has been shaped by migrant families who have contributed enormously to the country,” affirmed Freddy Coronado, Dean of the Faculty of Economy and Business at the University of Chile, in his welcoming speech. “In the last decade, migration has increased in a very significant way. So, the question now is how we prepare as a country, as cities and as regions to welcome these migrants in the best possible way.” 

Gastón González, Chief of Capacity-Building in the Department for Foreign Affairs and Migration in the Ministry of the Interior, added: “Chile has received immigrants since Pre-Hispanic times. Currently, for every migrant who arrives in Chile, there are two Chileans living outside the country. That makes Chile more of a sending than a receiving country. The Chilean state is anticipating and preparing for the challenges that migration brings, through laws against discrimination, a new migration law and new facilities for migrants to obtain visas if they decide to remain in Chile.”

IOM Chile Chief of Mission, Norberto Girón, described the seminar as “relevant and timely.”

Girón added: “Migration is a transcendental theme which affects us at both a global and national level.  It is extremely important that we discuss the positive contribution of migration to sustainable development, inclusive growth and progress towards Agenda 2030.”

The private sector, he added, can play a key role in ensuring that these development goals are met, which is why, “Establishing a dialogue with the private sector on migration and development is fundamental.  This is the reason we are emphasising the topic of ‘Migration and Business’ in the seminar today, which also represents a new area of IOM Chile’s work,” he concluded.

The seminar was organised by IOM together with the University of Chile’s Faculty of Economy and Business’s Sustainability Observatory.  It was sponsored by the Embassy of Mexico in Chile, SOFOFA, ASEXMA, ASOEX, SONAMI, DHL, Coca Cola, Santiago Convention Bureau and Pulso media partners.

Fuente: International Organization for Migration.

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