Remarks on the First International Forum on New Urbanization, Health and the Social Inclusion of Migrant Population
Mr. Nicholas Rosellini, UN Resident Coordinator in China
Dear Mm. Li Bin, Minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission
Dear Mr. William Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentleman, Colleagues,
I am pleased to be here at the 1st International Forum on New Urbanization, Health and the Social Inclusion of the Migrant Population. I would like to thank the host - the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for organizing this important event, which represents a unique opportunity to deepen and strengthen the dialogue between the Chinese Government and international organizations on the important topic of health and social integration of the migrant population.
Second, almost two years ago, countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and they are now defining their strategies for how to achieve the ambitions goals that this Agenda sets out. Given the recent trends in migration flows, the way countries manage migration will be an important factor influencing the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals – the SDGs.
The 2030 Agenda calls upon countries to reduce inequality, ensure prosperity for all, and to leaving no one behind. In this context countries are urged to pay special attention to the needs of disadvantage and marginalized populations. The needs of refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants are explicitly recognized. However, it is not only the needs that are recognized.
The Agenda also emphasize the positive contribution of refugees and migrants for inclusive growth and sustainable development, for which good health and social inclusion is a prerequisite.
SDGs particularly relevant for today’s discussions include: targets on ensuring universal health coverage: substantially increasing social protection coverage for the poor and the vulnerable; and ensuring equal opportunity for all by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practice. All of these targets are about promoting equitable access to quality essential services and financial risk protection for all, regardless of where they live or who they are – migrants or local residents.
Migration dynamics is of particular concern for achieving the SDGs in the Chinese context. At the end of 2016, there were about 280 million rural migrant workers in China, making up more than a third of the total working population. The challenges related to social inclusion of this mobile, but structurally disadvantaged migrant group is something that the Chinese Government will have to consider in the national sustainable development planning.
As I am sure will be discussed during today’s four sub-forums and the roundtable discussion, China has made important progress in terms of improving the health and social inclusion of the migrant population at the national as well as the regional and local levels. The recent expansion of urban residency permits by 100 million; successful social inclusion pilots; and the expansion of basic health insurance to cover more than 95% of the population, represent a few examples of recent progress.
In your continued discussions during this Forum I urge to keep in mind that responses to the complexity of migration should has to be based on values of solidarity, humanity and sustainable development. Policies on the health and social inclusion aspects of migration need to be considered in the context of broader government policy and in engaging and coordinating with other sectors, including civil society, the private sector, migrants’ associations and the affected populations themselves, to find joint solutions that benefit the health and social inclusion of migrants.
Policies to address migration issues should be based on evidence- based information. This includes identifying and collecting relevant data and analyzing it in a way that allows for new insights. In this regard, I am looking forward to learn more about the work on the dynamic monitoring and data development of Chin’s migrant population.
In conclusion, I hope that the conversations during this Forum opens up for a discussion on concrete steps towards improving the living conditions for one of China’s most vulnerable groups and further collaborations between China and the international organizations on these issues.
 The Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) (http://www.knomad.org/data/migration/emigration)
 National Bureau of Statistics of China, “Statistical Communiqué of the People’s Republic of China on the 2016 National Economic and Social Development”, http://www.stats.gov.cn/english/pressrelease/201702/t20170228_1467503.html, Last accessed Aug. 15, 2017