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Migration & Refugee NY meetings

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After having been engaged in numerous national and international discussions and projects in the area of migration and refugees with governments and NGOs, last week I had the opportunity to attend a number of meetings that was held in New York. The general perspective for the meetings was that migration is a global phenomenon here to stay, not a short term challenge that will end after we all go back to (what used to be) normal.

My and IBMs main role was to participate in discussions on effective models for partnerships between the private sector, NGOs and governments. One key example of this is the global partnership between the Red Cross International federation (IFRC) and IBM. More about this was communicated on Thursday September 22 in the following press release: New IFRC web application,, brings life-saving information to migrants.

The meetings in New York was the first time global and national leaders from about 150 countries gathered in one place to discuss ”the new normal” of migration. The main actors participating in the multiple summits, seminars, round table discussions and panels were the United Nations, the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), UNHCR, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies (IFRC), Columbia University and Concordia etc.

The central theme was the humanitarian aspect for the around 60 million people fleeing from war zones, governments and other organisations being a threat to them in their home countries. Other aspects of migration were also discussed. Those other aspects circled around the talents of the migrants entering destination countries, and more specifically how their skills can be matched to the needs of companies and governments/public entities. A number of small size pilots have been tested for this purpose in the skills matching area, but so far nothing has reached a critical mass or has been scaled up.

My personal view on the subject is that there should be a substantial, and feasible, opportunity for enhanced collaboration cross countries globally, to use advanced technology to work this out on a broad scale.

The main focus for discussions about migration has usually been refugees fleeing from war. But during the meetings in New York other causes of migration, such as water scarcity and drought, poverty or chances to a better life were also discussed. Also here I’m convinced that technology can help in terms of analysing data, drawing conclusions and taking appropriate actions when resources like water and farming is at risk, well ahead of critical situations occurring.

All those root causes for migration added together tell us that migration will continue to take place cross countries and geographies, that it will increase over time, and that we have to find ways to treat this as normal dynamics. The world as we currently know it with national regulations and national boarders will continue to be challenged, even more so in the years to come.

One way of looking at the overall situation and how to deal with it could be to unlock every individuals’ competence, skills and dreams and find ways to match those with countries’ and organisations’ needs. That requires giving all individuals relevant tools and insights in a transparent way, making it possible for the individual, families and groups to make the choices in life that would be optimal for them.

Maybe advanced cognitive IT solutions can be used to create those opportunities for the increasing number of migrants?


Follow me: Twitter logoTwitter @lwiigh och LinkedIn logo LinkedIn – Lars Wiigh

EU & Business development expert

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