The missing link in migration for development – the local dimension

The missing link in migration for development – the local dimension

​April 2016

Joint Migration and Development Initiative, UNDP in collaboration with IOM, ITC-ILO, UNITAR, UNHCR, UNFPA and UN Women, Brussels, BelgiumUNDP in collaboration with IOM, ITC-ILO, UNITAR, UNHCR, UNFPA and UN Women, Brussels, Belgium

The positive contribution of migrants towards inclusive growth and sustainable development is now recognized globally and prominently reflected in the new 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Addis Ababa Agenda for Action. The global approach to migration and development remains mostly framed at the national level. Yet in a global context of increasing human mobility, urbanization and decentralization, it is local and regional authorities that are finding themselves at the forefront of managing both the positive and negative impacts of migration. A national level approach also falls short in acknowledging the diversity of development and migratory contexts that exist within countries and therefore only partially addresses the complexities and opportunities related to the impact of migration on development dynamics. Indeed, persisting inequalities, one of the identified drivers of migration, exist not only among different countries, but also within countries, thus necessitating an integral and bottom up approach from the local level. Local and regional authorities are therefore the missing piece of the migration and development puzzle.

Evidence from the global inter-agency programme the Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI), led by UNDP in partnership with IOM, ITC-ILO, UN Women, UNHCR, UNFPA and UNITAR with funding from the European Union and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, also shows that the most successful migration and development interventions are the result of strong partnerships with a range of stakeholders from civil society, including social partners and very importantly, local authorities. Yet lack of competencies, capacities, resources and support at the national level can severely hinder local authorities’ efforts to manage migration for local development. It is within this context that the main objective of the JMDI is to maximize the potential of migration for local development.
To achieve this, the JMDI has successfully supported local authorities and other local actors through up-scaling and provision of technical and financial support to 15 projects across Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Morocco, Nepal, Philippines, Senegal and Tunisia. Examples of how this support has made a difference in migrants’ lives are outlined in the news from the network articles available in this newsletter, respectively on Morocco and Ecuador. Recognizing that local and regional authorities can lack the experience and capacity to manage their migratory context for local development purposes, an important component of the JMDI programme has been to ensure that the lessons learnt and experience of the JMDI, its partners and the projects themselves are used to enhance the capacities of project partners and the JMDI’s Community of Practitioners with over 4,000 members. To this end, the JMDI created knowledge products, training tools and provided direct coaching and capacity building through project specific technical expertise plans which have successfully contributed to the capacity building of over 1,000 people. Information and links to these tools are outlined below.

To ensure the sustainability of these efforts and foster the institutionalization of the scaled-up practices, the JMDI has also successfully advocated for the inclusion of migration and development within local agendas by promoting and sharing the good practices and lessons learnt to an extended constituency of partners and other local and national actors. In Ecuador, for example, this has led the JMDI to partner with the Consortium of Autonomous Provincial Governments of Ecuador (CONGOPE) which is the umbrella organization of all the Provincial Governments in Ecuador to replicate the Provincial Government of Pichincha’s JMDI supported Human Mobility Unit model across another 24 provinces. Moreover, using the two JMDI Ecuador projects as a base to learn from, the JMDI has also fed good practices and lessons learnt into the new national Organic Law on Human Mobility.

Policy dialogue, knowledge sharing and networking among migration and development actors also tend to take place uniquely at the national and international levels, depriving local and regional authorities and other local actors of the means to influence this dialogue and benefit from the knowledge and experiences shared. The JMDI has made strong efforts to promote the local dimension of migration and development in global dialogue by actively participating and contributing to pertinent international conferences and events such as the Global Forum on Migration and Development and has been a key driving force behind the annual Mayoral Fora on Mobility, Migration and Development. The latter provides a globally relevant space for mayors and municipal leadership to work collectively on migration and local development.

Clearly, migration management for development is already very much being tackled head on at the local level and in very different and innovative ways, yet much work still remains to ensure that local and regional authorities have the space, resources, competencies and capacities to fully flourish in this role. It is therefore up to national governments, civil society and the international community to ensure that local and regional authorities are included in the international agenda on migration and development, particularly within planning for the implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals and the Addis Ababa Agenda for Action on financing for development. This will not only enrich the global dialogue on migration and development and further our understanding in this field, but it will also ensure an integral and holistic approach to harnessing the development potential of migration that can respond to a great variety of unique contexts and opportunities at the local level on a global scale.

Related resources:
“My JMDI Toolbox” is a set of training materials (for local authorities, civil society, migrants’ associations, academia, international organizations etc.) on how to mainstream migration into local development planning in order to be able to better harness the development potential of migration.

“Mainstreaming Migration into Local Development Planning and Beyond” is a white paper which provides a thorough analysis of what has been done thus far in terms of mainstreaming migration at the local level and allows for a stock-taking of functioning practices to paint a global picture of working processes, lessons learned and policy recommendations for future mainstreaming exercises.

‘Local Authorities: The missing link for harnessing the potential of migration for development’ is an article that addresses the local dimensions of migration in a bid to show why local authorities have a crucial role in managing migration.

‘Mapping local authorities’ practices in the area of migration and development’ is a report that summarises the results of a global mapping exercise of local authorities’ migration and development practices conducted by the JMDI. The study is based on the consultations and face-to face meetings held with over 2,000 stakeholders active in the field of M&D, as well as on a thorough analysis of more than 80 M&D initiatives carried out by local authorities.