Migration is a highly visible reflection of global inequalities whether in terms of wages, labour market opportunities or lifestyles. Many decide to move on the notion that a better life can be had elsewhere and that migrating can reduce the disparities that exist between their circumstances and those in comparatively more affluent places. But the ability to move is also not equally shared. Individual characteristics and resources such as citizenship, financial means, access to the internet, and language skills all determine people’s ability to migrate.

Inequalities can also arise from migration. Those who migrate may face unequal access to rights and social resources, including the right to seek protection in cases of those fleeing conflict, violence and persecution. As there are often persisting development inequalities combined with distinct migration patterns within countries and communities themselves, there also needs to be consideration of whether and how migration contributes or counter-balances the concentration of people and resources in certain areas of a country or region.

IOM’s strategy

The 2030 Agenda has a direct reference to migration in its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 – Reduced Inequalities. This provides an opportunity to better understand the relationship between migration and inequality at all levels. Across its approach, IOM adopts an equality lens to understand the circumstances under which migration might exacerbate inequalities and the barriers that can restrict the potential of migration to be a tool to address inequalities.

IOM works to meet the two Targets under Goal 10 which directly reference migration: Target 10.7, on migration governance, and Target 10.C, on remittances.

Migration Governance

Target 10.7: Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.

Facilitating orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility

Target 10.7 acknowledges that effective migration governance is key for safer, more orderly and more regular migration. It also acknowledges the need for global, regional and national migration regimes and comprehensive policy frameworks to manage migration for the benefit of all. This includes promoting regular migration that respects the rights of all migrants, and leveraging the positive development impact of migration for migrants themselves as well as for all communities and countries. 

Implementing planned and well-managed migration policies

In practice, comprehensive and effective migration management involves a wide range of action areas. This includes but is not limited to migration mainstreaming and capacity-building; protecting migrant rights and promoting all migrants’ well-being; improving migrant integration in host communities; promoting regulated labour mobility; improving migrant health; mitigating and addressing migrants’ vulnerabilities and developing specialized programmes for refugees and internally displaced persons; facilitating family reunification; addressing irregular migration and providing pathways to regularity; addressing the needs of host communities; countering migrant smuggling and trafficking; facilitating resettlement, assisted voluntary return and reintegration of migrants; and developing durable solutions for displaced persons.


Target 10.C: By 2030, reduce to less than 3 per cent the transaction costs of migrant remittances and eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than 5 per cent.

Lowering remittance transaction costs

Global remittance flows are large – approximately USD 508 billion in remittances is thought to have flowed into low-and middle-income countries in 2020 – and dwarf traditional types of development financing, and can be more stable. Remittances are multidirectional, voluntary and private monetary transfers that migrants make, and can present many economic and social opportunities and challenges to both senders and recipients.

Remittance transaction costs can be high, which lessens the impact of remittances, burdens migrants and can discourage the sending of remittances through formal channels. This can affect migrant women in particular, as they often send smaller amounts of money than migrant men, though more regularly.

Target 10.C aims to reduce these costs by capping transaction fees. Often this involves increasing competition and transparency in the transfer market through cost-comparison tools and diversifying the supply of providers, thus helping migrants make informed decisions.