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Remarks Given by Mr. Nicholas Rosellini on the First International Forum on New Urbanization, Health and the Social Inclusion of Migrant Population

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,


Good Morning,


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.


This is a very timely event for two reasons. First, globally with over 250 million international migrants (including 15 million refugees) and over 750 million internal migrants within countries[1], migration has become a defining issue for development. There is substantial scope for strengthening collaboration and knowledge sharing on this growing agenda.


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.[2] 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.



However, notwithstanding these efforts gaps remain in ensuring full, equitable and affordable health, education, and pension coverage and further efforts are required.

At the international level, China is increasingly demonstrating its commitment to shoulder responsibilities related to international migration issues. China’s contribution of $100 million USD in humanitarian aid to address the world’s refugee crisis during the UN General Assembly in September 2016, is comendable. In addition, Chinas move from observer to full member of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in 2016, further opens the door for China to take on a more proactive role on migration issues at the international level. Faced with pressing challenges, countries around the world could benefit from learning from the Chinese experience of social inclusion of the migrant population. The UN Agencies in China stand ready to support in promoting knowledge sharing between Chinas and other countries on this topic.

Based on long-standing collaborative relationships, the UN Agencies in China are working closely together with their Government counterparts in multiple areas related to Chinas new urbanization, health and social inclusion of the migrants. To name a few examples:


  • IOM is providing targeted technical assistance in the areas of migration management, counter-trafficking and facilitating migration:
  • WHO works closely with China’s national health authorities on health system reform:
  • UNFPA is working on capacity building on population census and demographic analyses;
  • and UNICEF is collaborating with the Government on assisting the early-childhood development of most disadvantaged children, including the millions of left-behind children.


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.


Thank you!


[1] The Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) (http://www.knomad.org/data/migration/emigration)

[2] 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

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