International migration is frequently discussed in association with development. There are some 232 million international migrants in the world (UN DESA, 2013), and when internal mobility is included this number jumps to one in seven people on the planet. These numbers emphasize the increasing significance of migration. Yet the topic remains a complex phenomenon. Great variations in the conditions faced by migrants are mirrored in its developmental impacts. Furthermore, migration can also be seen as a product of development. From the early movements of hunter-gatherers, to urbanization processes triggered by the industrial revolution, to the movement of health workers triggered by ageing populations, mobility is a core part of the human experience.
When we talk about migration and development in policy circles we tend to focus on how we can enhance the positives and mitigate the negatives. In doing so, there is often more of a focus on the more tangible channels through which migration can impact development: remittances, diaspora engagement and the highly skilled, and less so on other less tangible areas such as social remittances, and the reverse relationship between migration and development, where development impacts migration.
However, these areas merit further investigation, because they lead us to consider what the evidence tells us about how migration, like technology or international trade, transforms realities. Additionally, internal migration has not been given the recognition it deserves within international frameworks, particularly given that urbanization processes are inherently linked to both migration and development.
It is clear that migration should be part of the discussions for the post-2015 development agenda. However we should tread with caution. Migration is also a topic that questions national sovereignty and, as such, an emotive and controversial topic in parliaments across the world.
Part A of this report provides a systematic update of the evidence base regarding migration’s relevance to and impact on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In doing so, it considers the role of migration as an enabler of development through a number of different channels: monetary and social remittances, the act of migrating and the impacts on those left behind. The evidence base for internal migration is often more robust and plentiful than for international migration and thus, where relevant, the impacts of internal migration on development are also considered.
Part B takes the debate a step further by first presenting argumentation for why migration is important and why mobility should be a component of the post-2015 development agenda. Following this, two ways in which migration could be incorporated in the post-2015 development agenda are considered: (1) situating migration alongside other “enablers” of migration such as trade in a reformulated version of MDG 8 on global partnerships; and (2) through the inclusion of migration-related indicators as a cross-cutting theme in the new development goals.
MRS N°50 – A New Global Partnership for Development: Factoring in the Contribution of Migration
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