A Turning Point on Migration

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    Post by: Owen Shumba, Team Leader, Livelihoods and Economic Recovery Group, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP. He leads UNDP’s work on migration and displacement. You can follow him on Twitter at @OwenShumba. This blog originally appeared at http://www.undp.org.

    In July Member States completed their negotiations on the Global Compact for Migration. The United Nations’ planned new architecture for Migration, the UN Migration Network could not have come at a more opportune time.

    Is this not the ‘Kandinsky moment’ for global migration?

    With over 258 million migrants internationally, the world is on the move. This global phenomenon is good for the world – for countries with a quest to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The movement of people across borders is a manifestation of a world that is today more interconnected that before and that has a global labour market. McKinsey Global Institute found that in 2015 the world’s 247 million migrants contributed 9.4 percent of global GDP, or roughly US$6.7 trillion worldwide—some $3 trillion more than they would have produced in their countries of origin.

    Integrating immigrants in destination countries in a safe, orderly and regular manner for example, in employment, education, health, transport and agriculture could add between $800 billion to $1 trillion to the global economy on a yearly basis. The figure could perhaps even double if innovation, cultural enrichment, skills transfer and networking are taken into account. We need to maximize the benefits of orderly, productive forms of migration. At the same time, the world must not tolerate the abuses and prejudice that make life unbearable for a minority of migrants.

    The world must applaud Member States for setting themselves to adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. This is a major milestone in our lifetime. This Global Compact will help in mitigating the adverse drivers and structural factors that hinder people from attaining sustainable livelihoods in their home countries, and therefore compel them to move. It will reduce the risks and vulnerabilities migrants face and protect their human rights. When implemented well, migrants’ human, economic and social capacities will enrich societies far and wide. Through this, migrants will, therefore, contribute to sustainable development at the local, national, regional and global levels.

    UNDP works in about 170 countries and territories, helping to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and build resilience so countries can sustain progress. As the UN’s development agency, UNDP plays a critical role in helping countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It is in this context that UNDP will be one of the key members that supports Member States to achieve the goals set in the Global Compact for Migration once adopted in December 2018.

    In supporting Member States to implement the Global Compact for Migration, using the SDGs as our core framework and in partnership with other agencies, UNDP will concentrate on three main areas:

    i)   Minimizing the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin, including building resilience in crisis and post-crisis situations;

    ii)  Creating conditions for migrants/diasporas to fully contribute to sustainable development in all countries;

    iii)  Supporting conditions for sustainable reintegration (also linked to our work on the re/integration of internally displaced people and refugees).

    The good thing is that we are already involved in supporting Member States in the above areas of work, and learning lessons too. For example:

    In Afghanistan, through the SALAM project – Support to Afghanistan Livelihoods and MobilityUNDP, in partnership with ILO, UNHCR and the World Bank, is supporting the government to develop comprehensive and coherent national policies and institutional frameworks for migration governance, job creation, and community stabilization with focus on returnees and receiving communities. This includes supporting reintegration of returnees through development solutions at subnational and local levels.

    UNDP is working with local authorities in Moldova to improve access to local public services, by empowering and engaging diasporas in sustainable local development and poverty reduction activities. To date, over 200,000 people have benefited directly and indirectly from better services as a result of migrants/diasporas’ substantive participation in local planning processes and financial contributions for local projects.

    Our interventions are informed by results of joint assessments. For example, our studies on the Journey to Extremism in Africa and Jobs Makes a Difference are testaments to our emphasis on evidence-based policy and programming support.

    The Member States can therefore count on UNDP’s support in especially these areas, and contributions where necessary to other objectives elaborated in the Global Compact for Migration. Together with our partners in the future UN Migration Network, civil society and others, we stand ready for this ‘Kandinsky moment’ – a turning point that will change words into practical actions for the benefit of migrants and their countries of origin, transit and destination.

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