IOM, Overseas Development Institute Host London Symposium on Migration and Sustainable Development Goals


United Kingdom - The inclusion of migration into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in recognition of the role that human mobility plays in reducing poverty and inequality within and across countries is one of the key innovations of the 2030 international development agenda. The topic formed the basis of a symposium hosted by IOM and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) this week at the Royal Society in London.

Expert speakers from a range of disciplines came together to discuss the nexus between migration and development, reviewing the SDG targets that mention, or are relevant for, migration and how they can be implemented.

British-Gambian business and development executive and keynote speaker Gibril Faal noted that while the policy battle had been won, greater attention must be placed on the duty of diligent implementation to demonstrate how the benefits of migration can be gained. Recognizing the political complexity of the topic, he noted that anxiety in host countries is natural, but editorialized and manufactured outrage must be addressed in any related discussions.

IOM International Cooperation and Partnerships Director Jill Helke provided the audience with a detailed overview of how migration is reflected across the goals and targets, addressing issues such as labour rights for migrant workers, reducing remittance transaction costs and ending modern slavery and trafficking.

Evidence on the positive impacts of both internal and international migration on poverty alleviation and inequality was highlighted in a presentation by Alan Winters of Sussex University’s Migrating Out of Poverty Research Consortium, reflecting the evolution of the migration-development debate over the past 15 years.

The discussion also considered the mechanisms and processes that could help review progress towards target 10.7, the centrepiece for migration in the development framework, with Stefano Scuratti of the Economist Intelligence Unit outlining what a potential indicator for ‘well-managed’ migration could look like.

With a focus on how to translate the migration-related SDG goals and targets into firm actions, panellists also discussed policy and practice opportunities for implementation. The process of integrating migration within policy design and planning, known as the “mainstreaming” process, is increasingly perceived as key in ensuring that the development potential of migration is maximized, according to IOM researcher Olivier Ferrari.

Oxford University researcher and former UNHCR official Jeff Crisp examined why the link between forced displacement and development has proved so elusive. He noted that this issue remains a gap that has not been addressed in the SDG framework.

ODI’s Claire Melamed presented a policy roadmap to bring migration and development together, reflecting on how human movement is driving poverty reduction and affecting the outcome of all the SDGs. She noted that any agenda that seeks to ‘leave no one behind’ must address specific groups such as migrants.

IOM UK Chief of Mission Dipti Pardeshi commented on the timeliness of the symposium, kick-starting a week of celebrations to mark International Migrants Day on December 18th. “Rather than giving voice to negative perceptions of migrants, the international community must focus on promoting the positive benefits migration provides to both countries of origin and destination, as described in the 2030 Agenda. The integral role migrants play in sustainable development cannot be underestimated; migrants must not be left behind,” she said.

For further information, please contact Jenniffer Dew at IOM UK, Tel: +44 +44 207 811 6000, Email: [email protected]

London Symposium on migration and sustainable development goals. © IOM 2015