Our Perspectives


The time is now for collective action on migration and displacement

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The world counts over 40 million internally displaced people and over 25 million refugees. Photo: UNDP

Migration. Refugees.  Internally Displaced Persons. Migrants. Immigrants. Asylum seekers. Host communities. These have become familiar words in our language. Familiar tools in our politics. Yet for millions of people it is a lived experience of human development, responsibility, human tragedy, poverty, conflict, missed opportunities, and more. Left unattended it will devastate future generations. 

The coming decade will test our resolve to end hunger, poverty, conflicts, reduce disaster risks as well as build lasting peace. The 2030 Agenda has created a foundation for the global community to succeed in this endeavour, including capitalizing on the momentum to tackle migration and displacement as committed in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets on migration and displacement.

These SDG targets come from a realization that human mobility is an expression of human development, that the benefits of migration outweigh the perceived burdens, that over 244 million people are on the move, that the world today is carrying over 40 million internally displaced people and over 25 million refugees. The plight of so many can no longer be ignored.  We must address the issues head-on with a longer term, development vision.

The migration-related targets of SDG 8 focus on protection of labour rights and promotion of safe and secure working environments; Goal 10 seeks to facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people; reduction of transaction costs of migrant remittances; and, Goals 5 and 16 aim to end human trafficking, and conflicts, leading to more peaceful societies. We must take forward these commitments steadfastly, carrying everyone on board the 2030 Agenda, leaving no-one behind.

So how can we take action?   

Conducting analysis and developing evidence: State-of-the-art evidence-based data should be used to inform the design of sustainable humanitarian and development initiatives and programmes.

Build partnerships for results in bridging the humanitarian and development divide in crisis and post crisis situations: We need a collaborative approach that is well coordinated amongst humanitarians and development actors, donors, private sector, civil society, migrants, refugees, IDPs and host communities, providing joint analysis of problems, multiyear planning and predictable funding.

Scaling-up joint policy and programming interventions for migration and displacement: Experience from the MDGs shows that we need to do more to scale-up and fast-track policies and programmes that work as we roll-out the SDGs implementation in countries. For example, the Joint IOM-UNDP Programme on Mainstreaming Migration into Development Strategies in Bangladesh, Ecuador, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Morocco, Serbia and Tunisia should be expanded to include more countries – and commitment sought from national and local governments to better manage migration in countries of origin and destination.

Implementing international agreements and commitments: Commitment is required to implement the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants after the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September; as well as outcomes from the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) and other relevant High Level events. The translation of these commitments into policies, strategies and programmes must be linked to SDG implementation.

The time is now for all endeavours to coalesce to make a positive difference to the lives and livelihoods of migrants, internally displaced people, refugees and their host communities, wherever they are in the world. We are all part of the solution, and succeed we must.

Blog post Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Migration and displacement Jobs and livelihoods Economic recovery Owen Shumba

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