IOM DDG Addresses Migration and Development at “European Development Days”

Belgium - IOM Deputy Director General Laura Thompson yesterday (4/6) took part in a high level panel: “Migration is Development: Making Migration a Driver for Development” at the two-day 9th annual “European Development Days” (EDD) event in Brussels.

Ambassador Thompson welcomed the EDD’s spotlight on migration and development this year and praised it as an excellent forum to move the debate beyond the financial impact of migration and remittances. “We need to reflect broadly on migration’s impact on ideas, knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and identities for social and human development,” she noted.   

Panellists discussed the role that migrants play in promoting development and reducing poverty in their countries of origin, as well as the myriad contributions they make in destination countries.

The high level panel included Matthias Ruete, DG of the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission; Dilip Ratha, Head of Global Knowledge, Partnership on Migration and Development, The World Bank Group; Imelda Nicolas, Chairperson, Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO);  Gibril Faal, Interim Director, Africa-Europe Development Platform; and “Future Leader” Birwe Habmo.  The panel, organized by the European Commission, was moderated by Euronews’ Paul Hackett.

“There is no doubt today that migrants make a significant contribution to the development of countries where they reside,” Ambassador Thompson remarked.  “Migrants support innovation and research, bring new ideas, and promote investment, cultural and commercial links.  But it is only when migrants are safe, well-integrated and healthy, with their rights protected, that they can fully contribute and become active actors in development.”

At the EDD, IOM also showcased the links between migration and environmental change by presenting the preliminary findings of its European Union (EU)-funded “MECLEP” research project at an interactive “debate lab.”

The three-year project, "Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Evidence for Policymaking," is currently working to contribute to the global knowledge base on the relationship between migration and environmental change, including climate change, to meet policymakers’ growing need for scientifically grounded evidence and sound analysis.  

MECLEP is generating evidence on migration as an adaptation strategy, and on how movement can foster human development potential in six pilot countries: Dominican Republic, Haiti, Kenya, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam.

Research in these pilot countries shows that relocation projects have been already carried out by local authorities due to changes in the environment, and that environment-related movements are mainly internal.  

Dr. Frank Laczko, Head of IOM's Migration Research Division, participated in the debate lab, together with Jonah Auka, Acting Senior Adaptation Officer of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, and Agata Sobiech, Programme Officer from the European Commission’s DG for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO).  The debate, co-organized with DG DEVCO, was moderated by Alex Randall from the UK Climate Change and Migration Coalition.

“Among the remarkable impacts this ongoing project has already had, is that Haiti – hard-hit by environmental change and natural disaster – became the first country in Central America and the Caribbean to include the link between the environment and internal migration in its draft migration policy,” said Dr. Laczko.

EDD is the EU’s flagship event in a year designated as the “European Year of Development.”  The annual forum attracts 7,000 participants from over 140 countries, representing 1,200 organizations in the fields of development cooperation, human rights and humanitarian aid.

For more information on the high level panel go to:

For more information on the “Migration, environment and climate change: Evidence for policy” debate lab go to:
For more information on MECLEP, go to:

For other information, please contact Ryan Schroeder at IOM’s European Regional Office in Brussels, Email:, Tel. +32 2 287 7116.