International Organization for Migration (IOM)
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: United Nations & Other IGOs
  • Name: International Organization for Migration (IOM)
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Urbanization (1 hits), urbanisation (0 hits),

Full Submission

IOM input to the Compilation Document for Rio+20


The International Organization for Migration (IOM) welcomes the opportunity to provide input to the preparatory process for the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, ?Rio+20?.

Our consultations with states, United Nations entities and civil society have reaffirmed our view that there is a need to give more prominence to population dynamics including migration. In this regard, IOM fully associates itself with the input to the Compilation document submitted by the ECESA Plus Cluster on Social Protection and that input addresses issues that below are expanded upon.

There are 214 million international migrants in the world today, with a further 740 million people internally mobile. Accompanying this are US$ 445 billion in remittances that represent significant financial inflows for states, often eclipsing traditional development assistance and direct foreign investment. Countless more displaced add to the ranks of people who move: it is estimated that by 2050 there will be 250 million people displaced as a result of environmental degradation exacerbated by climate change.

As migration is a reality for one in seven persons on the planet today, IOM believes that it will not be possible to avoid addressing the links between globalization, sustainable development and migration in the context of Rio+20. A growing body of evidence illustrates how widespread is the impact that migration has on social and economic development. Furthermore, recent studies now give us insights as to how migration will become a key environmental adaptation strategy, as recognized 20 years ago in Agenda 21.

While migration consists of many types of movement ranging from regular voluntary migration to survival migration in the face of emergency or persecution, IOM is convinced that advancing sustainable development in a targeted manner will support the primacy of migration as a choice: ?migration for the benefit of all?.

IOM believes these issues should now find their way into the focused political document envisaged in the UNGA resolution A/RES/64/236.

Therefore, and in response to the letter dated 14 March 2011 from the Co-Chairs of the Rio+20 Bureau, IOM would like to transmit the following input:

General comments

IOM would welcome a concise outcome document and urges states and other stakeholders to build on the excellent headway made in the High-level dialogue on International Migration and Development in 2005, UNFCCC COP16 Decisions and the Istanbul Plan of Action. It is further suggested that the political document should foreshadow the need for an adequate institutional framework and delineate the proposed contribution of relevant multi-lateral organisations such as the IOM.

With regard to existing proposals, IOM believes that Rio+20 could provide strong input to the post-2015 development framework by, inter alia, informing the articulation of potential sustainable development goals (SDGs). Further commitments to research activities on environmental change and migration, as already encouraged by the COP16 Decisions, will be vital for closing implementation gaps between policy and practice. This will be of vital importance. Here states can play an important role by increasing transparency in sharing migration-related statistics.

In relation to specific cooperation mechanisms, IOM pledges its involvement in system-wide coherence initiatives such as ?Delivering as One? and the Inter Agency Standing Committee on Humanitarian Assistance and, more specifically, IOM supports strengthening collaboration with UN agency partners in the Global Migration Group, which has as one of its priorities this year the topic of climate change and migration.

Key Substantive Issues

IOM would like to highlight three sectorial priorities of particular relevance for Rio+20:

(1) Rural Migration and Urban Settlements

(2) Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction

(3) Migration and Sustainable Development.

- Rural Migration and Urban Settlements: Mindful of the fact that a high proportion of environmental migration is expected to be rural-urban flow, adequate preparation has to be elaborated. City and local governments need to proactively plan for environmentally sustainable settlements, including by creating specific responses to the needs of urban migrants for integration, with access to health care and education, as well as by strengthening commercial links with rural areas. Likewise, return and reintegration should be supported as an option for migrants who want to return to the rural areas.

- Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction: Environmental degradation and other factors of vulnerability (including unmanaged Urbanization, demographic trends and unsustainable forms of development) that can be exacerbated by climate change are likely to result in further migration, including instances of forced migration leading to displacement or to planned relocation. This needs global attention and targeted responses. While migration is likely to be internal and regional, countries with low response capacities will need support in order to protect livelihoods, to reduce risk and exposure to environmental hazards and increase resilience of communities through adaptive measures. In this context, managed migration, such as temporary or circular, can be an important adaptation strategy.

- Migration and Development: There are very important and well-known positive links between migration and development, such as remittances, skills and knowledge transfer, and increased economic activity between countries that have migration links. Migration will play a role in finding solutions to certain demographic issues and can be important in addressing projected severe skills shortages. In order for migration to have a concerted impact on sustainable development, all migration issues need to be mainstreamed into general national development plans.

Suggested Outcome Document Language

Chapeau Text

- The Conference acknowledges that migration and displacement are phenomena of global proportions which are forecasted to grow in importance due to persistent demographic and socio-economic disparities as well as political conflicts and increasing environmental degradation exacerbated by climate change.

- The Conference therefore recognizes the importance of the issue of migration for sustainable social and economic development as well as its importance for the resilience of populations under environmental stress and political conflicts.

- The Conference notes the up-coming United Nations High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in 2013 and urges this dialogue to take into account the ?Rio+20? Outcome Document in order to garner political and operational support for responses to contemporary migration challenges. The deliberations of the independent, state-led Global Forum on Migration and Development will also be relevant in this regard.

Migration and Sustainable Economic Development

States, supported by key stakeholders, need to adopt policies that significantly increase the development impact of migration, especially by noting the following:

- Vastly differing population growth rates, together with extended life expectancy in many countries, is resulting in significant demographic differences within and between regions and corresponding variations in labour supply. These trends will be a key determinant of global economic development and play an important role in shaping migration flows which - to the extent that they are linked to demographics - can be projected and planned for decades in advance.

- Policy makers should consider projected demographic trends in their migration policies, as migration can be one component in dealing with low growth rates and ageing populations. As the trends in many countries with currently high growth rates will also eventually slow or even reverse, this should also be taken into account in long-term development planning.

- In this regard, the on-going pilot projects that aim to mainstream migration into development policies could provide valuable lessons for broader replication. In order to encourage the use of remittances for sustainable development the following actions are required:

i) Encourage the collection of further and better statistical data on remittance transfers and their spill-over effects on sustainable development;

ii) Commit to lowering the transfer costs of remittances both at the source and the destination country;

iii) Establish incentives for using remittances for productive investments, including to support the resilience of populations whose environment is vulnerable.

- Circular migration and trans-national migrants provide vital transfers of knowledge and skills in key labour market areas; policies that encourage and facilitate such movements should be promoted.

- Removing undue barriers to migration and promotion of legal avenues of migration through, inter alia, bilateral and multilateral agreements should be supported. The need for states to find mutual solutions to severe skills shortages is mentioned in this regard.

Migration and Sustainable Social Development

States and other stakeholders need to take the following actions to maximize the positive social effects of migration.

- Fully engage emigrants and the diaspora to maximize their contribution to sustainable social development in their home countries. Design and implement programmes that encourage temporary return or circular migration to this end.

- Engage returning migrants to utilize their networks, knowledge and skills in their local communities by assisting with sustainable social development, in particular in critical sectors such as education, healthcare and rural development.

- A twin track approach should be taken on the issue of rural urban migration. City governments need to proactively plan for environmentally sustainable settlements, including by creating specific responses to the needs of urban migrants for integration, health and education. In parallel, measures should be taken to ensure development opportunities that provide the option to remain in rural areas.

Environmental Change and Migration as an Adaptation Strategy

When displacement occurs because of the slow onset of environmental degradation, livelihoods are threatened and, in this regard, states should consider:

- Addressing the challenges of livelihood, food security and health of the people affected by the adverse impact of climate change and responding to the needs of the people displaced at national, regional and international levels.

- Exploring the role of migration as an adaptation strategy, whether such movements are seasonal, circular or permanent. In particular, any such measures must take into account the fact that many populations may be too impoverished or too vulnerable to move on their own initiative. Specific pilot programmes could explore the possible role of managed migration, such as temporary and circular migration, in lessening the impact on fragile eco-systems. Such programmes could also increase the long-term resilience of origin environments by channelling remittances into sustainable development activities.

- Encouraging further research to explore the relationship between migration and environmental sustainability. This could include financial and operational support to national and international research bodies that further examine the migration and environmental degradation link.

Migration in Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies

Disaster Risk Reduction programmes must specifically address the potential migration and mobility issues involved and be based on the following actions:

- Minimize forced displacement by consistently investing resources in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation to increase the resilience of affected communities. If displacement is unavoidable, responses can address assistance and protection needs while facilitating rapid recovery through livelihood protection and rehabilitation.

- Integrate managed migration programmes as part of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation through, for instance, developing temporary and circular labour migration schemes for environmentally vulnerable communities. Wherever possible, these measures should be taken in a pre-emptive manner. Examine long-term strategies for planned relocation regarding exceptional or predictable high-risk areas

- Raise policy and public awareness of the importance of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation to effectively address environmentally-induced migration. Interaction can be facilitated at the national and regional levels through state-appointed focal points for the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 and for climate change.
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