I am delighted that migration issues are being taken more seriously than they were decades ago, or even a few years ago. As a migrant myself, the policy and practical issues prominent in the migration debate form part of my lived reality. I started working in the field of migration a few years ago, supporting implementation of the IOM-UNDP Joint Global Programme on Mainstreaming Migration into National Development Strategies. As part of my role, I have had the opportunity to interact with people from different walks of life working on similar issues: government representatives, intergovernmental agencies, civil society groups and migrants whose lives are directly impacted by these issues. Through this, I have had a great experience engaging with and learning from sometimes conflicting or converging viewpoints on how these different stakeholders perceive the migration phenomenon.
In recent years, particularly as many countries are reeling from, or are still in the throes of populist nationalism, the conversations around migration have increasingly taken on a negative slant, and pro-migration viewpoints are becoming less tolerated. From xenophobic attacks against migrant communities in South Africa, anti-migrant movements in Brexit-bound UK or stigmatization of migrants during the lead up to the 2016 elections in the US, we have seen fears about economic uncertainty take centre stage and obscure the value of migration to our societies and the world in general.
The challenge for various experts and professionals working in the migration space is to leverage the critical empirical evidence and anecdotes of how migration is helping bridge the global poverty gap through reducing the level and severity of poverty, as well as indirectly stimulating economic activity in impoverished communities. The impact of migration on poverty alleviation makes it an indispensable piece of the roadmap towards achieving the first goal of the 2030 Agenda – No poverty.
My various professional engagements have enabled me to appreciate at close quarters how remittances are vital to the economies of many developing countries and particularly in rebuilding communities in disparate nations such as Nepal, Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tonga, Philippines, Jamaica and Mexico. In the Republic of Moldova for instance, the Government through the Diaspora Bureau, organizes Diaspora Days each year to emphasize the importance of capitalizing on the experiences accumulated by Moldovan migrants. The climax of the Diaspora Days is the Gustar International Festival and other local festivals.
Indeed, migration has always been a defining issue of our time. With the number of international migrants worldwide snowballing in recent years, reaching 258 million in 2017, an increase from 220 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000, it is imperative to pay more attention to the topic. Failing to do this could lead to losing the significant benefits and opportunities migration presents.
At the UN level, the call for global action to better protect migrants is yielding positive results. Agenda 2030 includes several migration-related targets and calls for regular reviews of the progress towards their achievement. On 19 September 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. Also, Member States have commenced negotiations on a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration.
Either, as professionals, migrants or global citizens with interest in the migration conversation, we all have a duty to play in ensuring that the migration process is safer and in participating in the global policy discourses on the issue.