Step 4: Monitor & Report

This step includes collecting, monitoring, reporting and analyzing data relating to migration and the SDGs. It provides advice on how implementing bodies can take steps towards improving the overall quality of migration data. 

Access the full Monitoring and Reporting Section of the guide.

Understanding Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring of some kind is a necessary component of any activity relating to the SDGs. Establishing effective local and national reporting structures is a way to strengthen accountability towards the 2030 Agenda. It is key that regular reporting takes place at the local and national levels, because countries are only asked to report at the global level twice before 2030.

Reporting enables governments to use the SDG monitoring process as an ongoing management tool. A strong indicator and reporting framework can be highly valuable, as it can help turn the SDG framework into a tool for governments to inform migration policy and programmes.

Implementing bodies may decide to choose SDG priorities, design and implement interventions, and only then develop indicators. It should be noted that if indicators are developed first around migration priorities, interventions can be more meaningful as they strive to meet the indicators that reflect priorities.

Tips for Sustainable M&E
Continuous Evaluation
  • SDG monitoring need not end at indicator reporting. There is a need to continuously evaluate interventions and other formal or informal methods of monitoring and evaluating can be established for this. Implementing bodies may establish evaluations to assess changes in indicators in relation to particular interventions, through regular inspection, appraisal, research and other processes, helping move towards an evidence-based approach to intervention design and decision-making on migration and development.
  • There should be feedback loops between any monitoring mechanisms and the refinement of interventions, or design and planning of future interventions. Ideally interventions would also include mechanisms to allow for feedback from citizens, including migrants. Creating opportunities for voices to be continuously heard on the intervention is especially key if this is a permanent legislative change.
Sharing Results
  • Implementing bodies should ensure others can learn from their interventions and the SDG implementation process as a whole. This can be done by making programme or project results available online, promoting knowledge products based on interventions and organizing and/or taking part in events on knowledge sharing in migration and/or development to promote good practices and lessons learned.
  • The guidance in previous sections should be adapted as appropriate where the monitoring and reporting step is integrated into activities led by a wider SDG process. Each of these activities – the data mapping, indicator development and reporting – can be either carried out independently and integrated into a wider SDG process, or can be used to help inform a wider SDG process where they wish to focus on migration.
Who's Responsible?
National Level

National Statistical Offices (NSOs) should take a leading role in SDG monitoring, reporting and any other data-related activities. In consultation with national-level policymakers, NSOs should lead the process of indicator development, gather and coordinate data provision, and report indicators. Alternatively, another body such as the migration or development planning agency or the main implementing body of the SDG process could lead. If this is the case, there should be close collaboration of this body with the NSO. If the country has taken part in any migration data initiatives with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the past, such as conducting a Migration Profile or a Migration Governance Indicators (MGI) assessment/Migration Governance Profile, any technical working groups or other bodies that were formed to enable this process could lead.

Local Level

Implementing bodies will need to decide how to engage with national statistical offices. If there are local-level, regional or federal-level statistical offices, they could lead this step. If there are no such bodies and statistical offices only exist at the national level, local implementing bodies may agree to collaborate with them if needed. The NSO could provide input and guidance in agreed stages of the process. The nature of this collaboration will depend on the context and capacities of local-level policymakers and statisticians.

All Levels

Close collaboration between implementing bodies and relevant statistical bodies during monitoring and reporting is important. This helps ensure that SDG targets and general planning are broadly measurable, and in turn that indicators are accepted and relevant for policymakers.

1. Migration Data Mapping

Implementing bodies need to take stock of existing data relevant to the targets to establish what is available and what the indicator options may be. This can be done with a data mapping stage to gather information on what data is already captured that may be relevant to that target and how it is used. If there is already a sufficient overview of migration data available or local or national indicators in place that can be used for the targets, the data mapping step can be skipped.

If the aim is to monitor targets explicitly on migration, examine first if the global indicators for these can already be produced. Consult the metadata available and examine data availability against this. Even if the aim is to measure the targets referenced above and the global indicators can indeed be monitored, it is useful build an overview of data available in each area.

A list must be created of potential data sources and actors who may hold data relevant to a particular target. International, non-governmental and other actors can be included; keeping in mind that data used for indicators must be accurate, reliable and regularly refreshed.

Helpful Tip

Check whether a Migration Profile is available for your country: this lists national migration data sources.

Consult the Global Migration Data Portal: this may contain some national existing data.

Following this, hold interviews or consultations to gather or consolidate information on relevant data capture and process for that target. This should include the following and can be gathered using the Data Mapping Template tool:

  • What relevant data is collected or received
  • Variables by which this data is disaggregated
  • How and how often it is collected or received
  • How it is stored
  • If, how and when it is shared with other organizations
  • If and how it is reported
2. Developing Indicators

Once there is a view of the data available for prioritized targets, implementing bodies should consider which indicators can be reported on. If the mapping exercise reveals that global indicators can be reported, these indicators should be used so that progress can be comparable to that of other countries. If global indicators cannot be reported, or as an addition to the process, governments may develop proxy indicators to monitor targets separately at the local or national level.

Why Develop Proxy Indicators?

Developing proxy indicators adapted to your context could be a good approach for several reasons:

  • Not all global indicators are appropriate for national use (for example, some do not allow for self-reporting at the country level).
  • Many of the global indicators that relate to migration have relatively under-developed methodologies.
  • Proxy indicators can be valuable as they are tailored and context-driven in that they can build on existing migration data capacities and reflect migration priorities for local or national government.
  • Proxy indicators enable governments to monitor progress towards particular local or national migration objectives that are not reflected in global indicators.

This will be especially relevant much of the time in the context of integrating migration across SDG implementation, because most global indicators do not mention migration. Global indicators will need to be adapted at the very least by introducing a migratory disaggregation. Monitoring these indicators every year until 2030 also enables governments to track progress in prioritized migration issues.

Proxy indicators may not always be comparable with those of other countries, but they can generate meaningful reporting on migration and strengthen accountability for governments in achieving migration objectives under the 2030 Agenda. To strike a balance between global SDG monitoring and local/national relevance, implementing bodies may wish to use a mix of global-level and proxy indicators.

Implementing bodies can choose how many indicators to create for each target depending on capacity and resources; often each has between one and three.

Principles for Developing Indicators

The following principles should be used to guide the development of indicators:

  • Indicators should reflect local or national priorities and measure aspects of the target that are relevant to context.
  • Indicators should be constructed from reliable and well-established data sources.
  • It should be possible to collect the data for the indicator on a regular basis over time.
  • Indicators should build as far as possible on existing data capture and processes, to keep the additional burden low and to help ensure the sustainability of measurement. Use the data mapping to help ensure this.
  • Indicators should be straightforward to interpret and easy to communicate to the public and civil society.
  • Preference should be given to outcome indicators, rather than process or input indicators. Indicators should measure outcomes as much as possible; for example, rather than “number of returnee training programmes available”, use “proportion of returnees graduating from training programmes who are employed within a year.”
  • Indicators should be as consistent as possible with relevant international standards and guidance. While the indicators themselves will be different than SDG global indicators, they should still follow internationally set terminology and definitions where possible, for example, those included in the UN Recommendations on Statistics of International Migration.

Data systems and processes may need to be adapted to ensure data are collected appropriately. For example, implementing bodies may learn that data needed for an indicator may already be captured, but not reported or analysed. This requires ensuring data collected by different stakeholders are easily accessible by all relevant stakeholders. This can be done by setting up a data sharing mechanism between stakeholders for one actor to compile and disseminate the data.

Each indicator should be accompanied by a brief description of metadata and methodology. In addition to this, where baseline data is available this may be included, if the data are available or in the case of an indicator already operational. The final list of indicators should be formally reviewed and adopted by the implementing body and all other relevant stakeholders.

3. Disaggregation by Migratory Status

Strengthening disaggregation of data by migratory status is called for specifically in the SDGs and is key to integrating migration across the 2030 Agenda. This disaggregation helps practitioners see beyond statistical averages in development data and understand migrants’ socioeconomic and other characteristics, such as their health, education, employment and income status.

Improving disaggregation is a particularly important area of focus because it is linked to migration mainstreaming. This will shape discussions on migrants’ situation and needs in these sectors, enabling policy makers to address them. In this way, improved disaggregation is a prerequisite for successful migration mainstreaming, as it makes it easier to consider migration as a cross-cutting theme across sectors.

As a result of data mapping, implementing bodies may find that new indicators are not needed to measure certain targets, and instead the objective may be simply to add disaggregation by migratory status, or other migration variables, to existing indicators. The IEAG recommends that 24 global SDG indicators can be disaggregated by migratory status. While some indicators cannot be disaggregated at the global level as they are composite indicators or collected by different countries, individual countries may indeed be able to disaggregate more than twenty-four.

In practice, disaggregating data by migratory status involves including the following variables into administrative registries and census-based data collection:

  • Country of birth, including foreign-born and native-born population
  • Country of citizenship, including non-citizens (as well as stateless persons) and citizens.

Governments may wish to take further steps and collect variables on:

  • Reason for migration
  • Duration of stay in the country
  • Country of birth of individual and parents (to determine first- and second-generation migrants)
  • Refugees and asylum seekers
  • Internal migrants or internally displaced persons (IDPs)
  • Regular and irregular migrants.

It may be possible to use existing census microdata to achieve this. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) data can disaggregate many global SDG indicators by nativity status for different countries; therefore, statistical offices or relevant stakeholders should make full use of this, if possible.

Where relevant, practitioners should also work to strengthen the disaggregation of migration data by variables such as age, sex, occupation, employment status and others to gain deeper insights into migrant populations.

4. Reporting Indicators

The follow-up and review process for the 2030 Agenda is intended to be “open, inclusive, participatory and transparent for all people and will support the reporting by all relevant stakeholders.” At the same time, managing SDG reporting efficiently requires extensive coordination, as it can be complex. There are four layers to SDG follow-up and review at the global, regional, national and thematic levels

A mechanism should be set up to report migration indicators. Reporting mechanisms could establish new processes or indicators could be integrated into existing reporting platforms, such as those reporting other local or national development progress against plans.

At the national level, either NSOs, migration or development planning agencies, or another coordinating body, should publish indicators.

At the local level, the relevant government agency or implementing body should do so using a locally-owned platform and could consider additionally reporting through a platform managed by the NSO.

The following should be features of any indicator reporting platform (UNECE, 2017):

  • Transparency: An outline of relevant metadata and methodology should be included, including definitions of indicators and data sources.
  • Timeliness: Reporting of indicators should be timely. Depending on the periodicity of measurement and on government capacity, indicators could be published either on a continuous basis or at agreed regular intervals. The time series should begin from 2015 if older data are available, otherwise at the first available date.
  • Accessibility: The public should be able to access the indicators and they should be presented in an accessible way. For example, a simple table on a dedicated part of the website, or an Excel table available for download.

SDG monitoring and reporting processes provide a useful opportunity to create and strengthen vertical coherence on migration data.

At the national level, all migration indicators and information should be reported alongside any other national-level SDG reporting. National-level actors also must consider coherence with regional and global level reporting. Where national indicators are the same as any regional or global indicators, these should be fed into appropriate systems and aggregated directly if it uses the same methodology and is of the same standard of quality.

At the local level, actors must consider coherence with national-level reporting. Care must be taken to ensure that information gathered by local government is used in national reporting in so far as it can be. Where local and national-level indicators are the same and use the same methodology, local indicators should aggregate up to national indicators.

Implementing bodies seeking to coordinate with regional-level migration data processes should also consult the Global Migration Data Portal to take stock. Implementing bodies in countries where Voluntary National Reviews for the HLPF are being conducted should ensure migration indicators and any other migration-SDG developments are included.

Once monitoring and reporting mechanisms for SDG indicators are established, implementing bodies need to go further to evaluate progress made against the SDGs. Independent reviews may be conducted, regularly or on an ad-hoc basis, analyzing progress made towards migration targets. Indicators reflect progress against certain metrics, but a wider process of evaluation is needed to assess what is behind changes in the indicators.

5. Building Migration Data Capacity

Data is a particular challenge in migration governance, where current information is scarce and data capacities are constrained across countries and topics. Policymakers need timely, reliable, accessible and comparable data on international migration to manage migration effectively and protect the rights of migrants. Improving migration data is a crucial step to improving migration governance, and the SDG implementation process can help kick-start efforts to do this.

Meeting the requirements of SDG follow up and review mechanisms is difficult for most countries, especially for many developing countries with low statistical capabilities. The challenge is even greater when considering that as of late 2017, no data exist for two-thirds of the 232 official internationally-set SDG indicators (OECD, 2017). This means that not only should practitioners mobilize around improving migration data for SDG reporting, they should do so alongside other stakeholders and under ongoing efforts of the data revolution in the context of the 2030 Agenda.

Activities on migration data capacity building should be ongoing. They can and should be undertaken during and after any migration-SDG implementation effort. Throughout these efforts, there should be ongoing cooperation of data representatives with policymakers, so that developments in migration data can be used to improve policy and, in turn, policy needs are reflected in data activities.

Activities on migration data capacity building might include (Laczko, 2016):

  • Creating local, national or regional SDG-migration data action plans, setting out priorities and strategies to improve the availability and quality of migration data in the context of the 2030 Agenda. Where relevant, these plans should be fully integrated with local or national action plans for statistics.
  • Working towards creating institutional and legal frameworks for statistics that proactively support the development of best-practice legislation, standards, policies and practices on migration data.
  • Strengthening cooperation and coordination between national statistical offices, ministries and other organizations that produce migration data, with a view to better harmonize migration data concepts, and improve data sharing and integration mechanisms.
  • Making concerted efforts to strengthen and expand quality migration data collection in areas that are especially lacking, and helping advance the creation of concepts, methodologies and data quality assurance frameworks in these areas. Training could be devised for policymakers on certain migration topics.
  • Organizing workshops or consultations with government representatives and other practitioners to build capacity and share best practices on migration data:
    • Based on particular themes: Sessions could explore the key challenges or barriers to successfully collecting data in this area, and ways around them. They could explore topics on which it is difficult to collect data, such as irregular migration, human trafficking or hate crimes. Or they could dig deeper into investigating selected research topics, such as the impacts of different types of migration on development.
    • In particular sectors: Sessions could be organized in specific governance or development sectors to take a whole-of-sector approach to addressing migration data in that area. These sessions should focus on assessing how to disaggregate that sector’s data by migratory status across the board. They could also explore research topics particular to that sector and migration, for example, examining the effects of certain labour market policies on migration, such as vocational skills provision. These sessions within a particular sector would be highly valuable, as they are necessary to intelligently mainstream migration.
  • Developing and strengthening multi-stakeholder partnerships across government, academia, civil society, private sector and others involved in the production and use of migration data, locally, nationally, regionally and internationally. This should also include collaboration with key migration partner countries to facilitate data exchange on migration statistics and areas such as recruitment and migrant labour rights.
  • Creating or contributing to open data or data sharing initiatives to lower information costs and make migration data available to a range of different stakeholders to develop the evidence base for migration policy-making and programming.
  • Mobilizing resources for migration data capacity building. This could mean seeking this as part of any development assistance available for statistics, as well as seeking this under any financing available through migration-specific development assistance.
  • Engaging with IOM and other relevant international agencies to improve migration data capacity through specific tools, for example:
    • Developing or updating an existing Migration Profile. These profiles enable governments to comprehensively take stock of their migration data, as they identify data using standardized templates and reports, produce various migration indicators, and offer data recommendations. This helps work towards improving and better using the evidence base for migration policy, and constitutes capacity building in itself as governments are involved in their production It also creates opportunities for greater international comparability and coherence of migration data.
    • Consulting guidance on migration data capacity building and best practice examples from IOM’s Global Migration Data Portal. The portal provides information on international data sources on migration and reports on a list of standardized international-level migration indicators for countries. Governments should engage with the platform as a learning tool, for example by consulting its background analyses and other evaluative resources.
    • Taking part in available data capacity building activities offered by IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre. Technical workshops and training are held in many different countries on migration data needs and solutions under the SDGs, including specifically on global-level indicators and disaggregation by migratory status.
    • UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) will start a migration data capacity programme and conduct a number of trainings across Latin America and Asia starting in 2018.
  • Participating in regional and international dialogues on migration data. There is increased international attention on improving migration data, and governments should use this momentum to share experiences with others and improve their own migration data practices. Governments should take part in relevant fora such as the IOM, UN DESA and OECD International Forum on Migration Statistics, and keep abreast of any initiatives in migration statistics led by the IAEG and other UN bodies. Further, they should open dialogues with relevant States on how to support bilateral or regional migration data improvements, and take part in relevant regional initiatives.
  • Participating in regional and international dialogues on development data. There is a call in the international community to start a “development data revolution”. This presents an opportunity to make a stronger case for migration data capacity building. Migration should be integrated into wider efforts to improve data on development, and governments should stay abreast of developments in this area and adhere to international guidance on development data, such the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data Prepared by the High-level Group for Partnership, Coordination and Capacity-Building for statistics (HLG-PCCB, 2017) and any regional initiatives.