Day after day, media reports and our minds are filled with the plight of people fleeing – be it from war, conflict, hunger or threat.
But there is another side to people’s mobility. Of the world’s approximately 900 million migrants, it is estimated that more than 90 percent move in search of better jobs and other opportunities.
The movement of people across borders and labour markets is a powerful engine for growth and development. As ministers responsible for migration and development cooperation, we want to promote this form of mobility.
Two months ago, Sweden assumed the chairmanship of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), a leading arena for discussion of global migration issues.
At the same time, work is also under way on the post 2015 development agenda that will carry forward the work begun with the current Millennium Development Goals. The work includes an important discussion on how migration can be used to increase freedom and eradicate poverty.
Today, we are jointly hosting a seminar on the impact of migration on global development, at which some of the world’s foremost experts in the area will be discussing this issue.
A very concrete example of how migration drives development is the billions of dollars in remittances that migrants from low-income countries send home to their families around the world. Every year, millions of people move to work in countries where wages are higher than in their home countries, sending money home to their relatives.
The World Bank estimates that these financial flows amounted to $400 billion last year, and they are expected to rise by about 7 percent per year in the years ahead. They represent the second-largest source of financial flows to low- and middle-income countries.
These remittances are three times the size of international development assistance and in some countries they account for a large share of the total GDP. This money gives many families in the migrants’ home countries the chance to go to better schools, get enough to eat and enjoy a better life.
How can we ensure that financial flows such as these function as smoothly as possible and benefit people living in poverty in the best possible way? We hope to be able to achieve better solutions through the Global Forum on Migration and Development.
Migration is a means to achieve not only economic development but also improved social development. We have both met colleagues from other countries who have expressed their concern about seeing more and more young and educated people moving to other countries in search of a better life.
Around the world, people are moving from societies where the environment prevents them from reaching their full potentials, to countries where better policies have led to better conditions.
Migration puts pressure on policy makers worldwide, who are forced to compete to entice talented people to remain within the country’s borders.
When people migrate, new ideas and thoughts can move across borders, compete with each other and find new platforms. Entrepreneurs from different countries can meet and learn from each other.
There are many examples of people who did not find the right environment for innovation in their countries of birth, but who could accomplish great things when they were able to test their ideas in new countries.
Around the world, many countries are choosing to close their borders more tightly, both to keep citizens in and to keep others out. But countries can cooperate and solve the challenges that may arise as a result of migration and lack of development.
Forums like the GFMD, which Sweden is now chairing, play a key role in this kind of cooperation. It is essential, both for our sake and for the rest of the world.
Gunilla Carlsson, Minister for International Development Cooperation
Tobias Billström, Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy