How to look at migration and development

In a recent exclusive guest commentary, the International Organization of Migration Director-General William Lacy Swing highlighted the connection between migration and sustainable development. Devex members were quick to chime in. Photo by: Jonathan Cohen / CC BY-NC

By 2016, remittances are expected to surpass half a trillion dollars. And even today, those funds, according to research, are making a difference not only to families of migrants but also to the economies of their home countries.

“Migration is, in fact, one of humanity’s oldest adaptation strategies to escape poverty and seek out opportunities. It can enable individuals to access education, broaden professional opportunities and generate income,” Ambassador William Lacy Swing, director-general of the International Organization for Migration, wrote in an exclusive guest op-ed for Devex.

Swing headlined the Second High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development last week in New York. In his editorial, he noted some of his recommendations for the dialogue, including recognizing the relationship between migration and sustainable development.

Our readers shared their own thoughts on the issue.

“If possible I desire that the global community address this issue from a market perspective. Immigrants are buyers of a unique product, ‘the opportunity to make their labor more productive’ if they are laborers or ‘an environment for conducting business,’ if they are entrepreneurial,” Lucy Mwangi wrote. “The fact of the matter is that, very few countries in the world we live in can provide that product … we live in a relatively poor world.”

Andrew Samuel, meanwhile, asked: Why the interest only in the contributions of migrants back home? What about their enormous contributions to the development of host nations.

He also questioned whether indeed the model of remittances as a way to reduce poverty does work.

Samuel said: “Has poverty reduced? Or, have migrants got to pocket out more funds and expenses on healthcare, nutrition and education? Have their remittances been taxed by both the origin and receiving countries and their banks? Have we thought through enough in our policy development as to how best we could overcome wage disparities, 2nd class or 3rd [class] treatment given to migrants, not forgetting the multiple abuses women migrants have to face in particular and the treatment meted out to children migrants, depriving them of their education and health and nutrition?”

Brahm Press backed Samuel’s assertions, adding that he hopes migrants’ rights will actually become a central part of the global dialogue and not secondary to the “false framework of ‘migration as development.’”

What do you think? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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About the author

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    Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.