Global Leaders to Debate Migration, Forced Displacement, SDGs at “European Development Days”

Global leaders are debating the complex relationship between mobility and inequalities at the European Development Days in Brussels. Photo: IRC

Brussels – A high-level debate today (18/06) will bring together global leaders in the fields of migration, refugees, forced displacement and development to spotlight the complex relationship between mobility and inequalities at this year’s flagship European Union (EU) forum on development.  

The 2030 Agenda represents the first time that migration, mobility and global inequality are interlinked under the global development framework. While debate has often focused on the needs of the most vulnerable migrants, less discussed is the decisive role that migrants and forcibly displaced populations play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially when it comes to their contribution to the host communities. 

Forward thinking on how to change this dynamic for the better will animate the panel debate “In Search of Equality: Migration, Forced Displacement and the SDGs” at the European Development Days (EDD) taking place in Brussels.  

On the panel, António Vitorino, Director General, International Organization for Migration (IOM) will join David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC); Kelly T. Clements, Deputy High Commissioner of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR); Stefano Manservisi, Director General of European Commission – DG for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO); Saadatou Mallam Barmou, Deputy Head of Cabinet of the Office of the Prime Minister, Government of Niger; and EDD Youth Representative Judicaelle Irakoze, Executive Director of Choose Yourself. 

Discussion will be moderated by Marta Foresti, Principal Research Fellow and Director of the Overseas Development Institute’s (ODI) Human Mobility Initiative.   

Ahead of the event, IOM Director General António Vitorino noted that while migration and mobility have risen on the international policy agenda in recent years, much of the debate is drawn to the downsides of migration, rather than on the opportunities for development that it presents with the right policies and sound management.  

“By embracing this reality, we can open up the potential for migrants to be agents of change at local, national, and global levels. Safe, orderly and regular migration can be a powerful force to truly ensure that no one is left behind,” said DG Vitorino. 

David Miliband, IRC President and CEO emphasized the need to step up efforts to tackle the inequalities of opportunity and outcome faced by migrant and refugee women and girls in fragile states. 

“Women and girls in crisis are suffering a double disadvantage – because of where they live and because of their gender. It’s clear that the humanitarian sector needs to take more seriously the inequalities of power between men and women that drive unequal outcomes. The sector should try to create a double dividend – tackling the symptoms of disadvantage, as well as the power imbalances that generate them – by setting clear targets for women and girls in crisis as part of the Sustainable Development Goals and establishing a sector-wide Gender Equality Scorecard with shared metrics for success.” 

Kelly T. Clements, Deputy High Commissioner for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) noted the critical role of development actors to include refugees as important contributors to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in host countries. 

“Forced displacement remains one of the great challenges of our time. Fortunately, development actors, including EU partners, are increasing their engagement to support and include the displaced in critical programme interventions. This solidarity and generosity is in the best spirit of the Global Compact on Refugees and an important step for refugees to integrate into local economies and contribute to their full potential in host communities.” 

The event is organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC).   

For more information: 

The 2030 Agenda’s universal commitment to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration, the full respect for human rights and the humane treatment of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons is reflected in SDG target 10.7, which emphasizes that good migration governance is indispensable in addressing inequalities. 

For more information on the High-Level Panel taking place today from 16:00 to 17:30 in Auditorium A3 at the Tour & Taxis convention centre in Brussels, please visit:  

For more information, please contact:  

Ryan Schroeder at IOM’s Regional Office for the EU in Brussels, Email:, Tel: +32 2 287 7116  

Joanna Nahorska at IRC Brussels, Email:, Mobile: +32 (0) 474 160 470  

Gabriela Romero Alvarez at the UNHCR Regional Representation for EU Affairs, Email:, Tel: +32 (0) 474 96 29 59