Migration for Sustainable Development

Click on a development sector or a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and scroll down to explore its migration linkages, relevant Global Compact for Migration (GCM) Objectives, data and measuring tools, case studies and resources. 

Human mobility affects and is affected by all development areas: for example, healthy and educated migrants and displaced persons can more easily participate in and contribute to society and migrants with regular status have improved access to decent and safe work. Migration is a global phenomenon affecting all countries and its effective governance needs global partnerships.

To create the future we want and need, we must empower migrants to fulfil their development potential, which can, in turn, have positive ripple effects for communities locally, regionally and globally. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent our global effort to progress towards prosperous and healthy societies. Migrants have a critical role to help fulfil the promises of these Goals; indeed, SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities) calls for the promotion of safe, orderly and regular migration. The Global Compact for Migration (GCM) sets out a roadmap to help us do exactly this. Read more about M4D and our approach.


The 2030 Agenda calls for a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development both as an underlying principle and specifically through Goal 17. This call is echoed in the Global Compact for Migration’s (GCM’s) “whole-of-society approach”, which underscores how effective migration governance requires partnerships with migrants and diaspora. Long-term engagement of the diaspora, for example, can boost remittance levels and their productive investment for sustainable development, meeting Goal 17’s targets on mobilizing additional funds and macroeconomic stability.

Similarly, Goal 17 calls for improving migration data and increasing disaggregation of data by migratory status. Strong partnerships boost capacities to address gaps in the quantity, accuracy, timeliness, comparability and accessibility of migration data. Strengthened migration data can also support better programming and policies to help protect and empower vulnerable groups. Finally, Goal 17 calls for multi-stakeholder partnerships that enhance policy coherence for sustainable development which is further elaborated in the GCM’s “whole-of-government approach.”  Integrating migration considerations across other policy areas and ensuring that sub-national and national migration and sustainable development actors coordinate will best leverage migration for sustainable development. 

But the linkages between partnerships and migration don’t stop there. They are context-specific but also often cross-cutting with other sector areas such as:

  • Environment and Climate Change: The impacts of climate change on mobility must be tackled with robust partnerships. For example, regional partnerships can mitigate the impacts of climate change on cross-border ecosystems and local-national coordination can provide services and protection for internal climate-induced displacement. (In line with SDGs 6, 7, 12, 13, 14 and 15)  
  • Employment: Innovative multi-stakeholder partnerships can protect and empower labour migrants. Partnerships with recruitment agencies promote ethical recruitment, while bilateral labour migration schemes and cooperation with trade unions and the private sector protect labour migrants rights. (In line with SDGs 1, 2, 8 and 10)
  • Governance: Good governance protects migrants’ rights through institutions that include migrants and displaced persons and are responsive to their needs. Similarly, strong partnerships between local and national authorities can ensure that governance efforts reflect migration realities in local communities. (In line with SDG 3, 4, 5, 11, 16)
  • Private Sector Development and Trade: Strong partnerships between the private sector and other migration actors (diasporas, migrants’ associations, governments etc.) can enhance the mutually beneficial relationship between businesses who gain skilled employees, innovation and new markets and migrants who gain livelihood opportunities, income and skills. (In line with SDG 8 and 9)
GCM Objectives

The key role of partnerships is recognized in the GCM’s “whole-of-society” and “whole of government” guiding principles, which promotes partnerships that include “migrants, diaspora, local communities, civil society, academia, the private sector, parliamentarians, trade unions, National Human Rights institutions, media and other relevant stakeholders.” For a full list of Objectives relevant to SDG 17, please see below and refer to the UN Network on Migration GCM Booklet and Migration Network Hub

gcm 1

Disaggregated data can be used to develop evidence-based and coherent policies that protect migrant rights and empower them to contribute to their communities.

GCM 16

Fostering social inclusion is a whole-of-society effort, requiring partnerships and knowledge sharing from all stakeholders within the community.

gcm 2

Strong partnerships with migrants and diaspora can potentially boost remittances and mitigate conflict, minimizing adverse drivers and forced displacement.

GCM 17

Promoting an evidence-based narrative on migration, grounded in reliable migration data, can combat xenophobia and highlight migrant contributions to society. 

gcm 4

Cross-border, bilateral and regional partnerships can ensure that all people have access to documentation that is recognized internationally.

GCM 18

Public-private partnerships can boost skills matching to meet private sector demand and protect and empower migrants and their communities.

gcm 7

Policy coherence and coordination can ensure that policies and practices mitigate rather than exacerbate migrant vulnerabilities. 

GCM 19

Sustainable and two-way partnerships with migrants and diaspora can empower them to fully contribute to sustainable development in communities of origin and destination.

gcm 8

Timely and reliable data is needed to track and coordinate efforts on missing migrants. 

GCM 20

Remittances serve as vital financial lifelines for families and communities of origin and should be enhanced through innovative technological solutions for remittance transfer.

gcm 9

Strong data collection and international partnerships can support policies that prevent the smuggling of migrants across the migration cycle.

GCM 21

Accurate and reliable data can prepare governments and communities of origin to help returnee migrant reintegrate sustainably.

 gcm 11

Partnerships for sharing technology can scale-up and replicate innovative practices for effective and rights-based border management.

GCM 22

Portable social protection schemes need bilateral, regional and multilateral social security agreements, as well as data sharing about benefits, healthcare, pensions and more.

GCM 12

Data collection and sharing can support trauma-informed, gender-responsive and child-sensitive screening and referral practices.    

GCM 23

Full international cooperation is needed for a revitalized global partnership able to tackle global challenges related to migration and sustainable development. 

GCM 14

Multi-stakeholder partnerships with local and national governments, diaspora and civil society can enhance awareness and the effectiveness of consular protection.    

Data & Measuring Results

SDG Target 17.18 calls “to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics.” For migration to fully contribute to sustainable development, all stakeholders must leverage comprehensive and disaggregated data to develop coherent policies and programming.

For the latest data on migration and sustainable development, check out:

Infographic on human mobility and partnerships for the goals, based on SDG 17.

What SDG 17 targets are relevant for migration?

  • 17.3 Mobilize additional financial resources for developing countries from multiple sources 
    • Mobilizing all migration-related financial resources as appropriate, including remittance flows and diaspora investment. 
  • 17.5 Adopt and implement investment promotion regimes for least developed countries 
    • Leveraging the investment potential of diaspora communities. 
  • 17.9 Enhance international support for implementing effective and targeted capacity-building in developing countries to support national plans to implement all the sustainable development goals, including through North–South, South–South and triangular cooperation 
    • Participating in international dialogue and capacity-building on migration governance at local, national, regional and international levels, including cooperating on topics such as bilateral agreements and return migration. 
    • Engaging in efforts to mainstream migration into development policy and programmes that build capacities of governments to more effectively manage migration. 
  • 17.13 Enhance global macroeconomic stability, including through policy coordination and policy coherence 
    • Using, where appropriate, remittance flows, diaspora investment and foreign exchange to help achieve macroeconomic stability. 
  • 17.14 Enhance policy coherence for sustainable development 
    • Enhancing vertical and horizontal policy coherence in all areas of migration governance and migration interventions and activities. 
    • Encouraging the practice of migration mainstreaming in development planning. 
  • 17.16 Enhance the global partnership for sustainable development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries, in particular developing countries 
    • Building and strengthening multi-stakeholder partnerships between international organizations, governments, civil society, private sector and others to improve migration governance and address cross-cutting migration issues, for example ethical recruitment, migrant health and cross-border health collaboration, and migration, environment and climate change linkages. 
    • Strengthening the capacity of migrants themselves to be development partners. 
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public–private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships 
    • Building and strengthening public, public–private and civil society partnerships to improve migration governance and address cross-cutting migration issues, and mobilizing resources this way. 
  • 17.18 By 2020, enhance capacity-building support to developing countries, including for least developed countries and small island developing States, to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts 
    • Strengthening systems and processes around migration data collection, exchange, monitoring, analysing and reporting at all levels of government as well as with other actors, for example publishing data on a regular basis on migration-related topics, monitoring implementation of local and national legislation and policies on migration. 
    • Building local and national capacity to improve migration data in the future, for example training researchers, statisticians and research institutions to research and monitor migration topics. 
    • Improving collection and disaggregation of development and other types of data (for example in education and health) by migration-related variables such as migratory status. 
  • 17.19 By 2030, build on existing initiatives to develop measurements of progress on sustainable development that complement gross domestic product, and support statistical capacity-building in developing countries 
    • Strengthening statistical systems and processes around migration data. 
    • Supporting statistical and all migration data-related capacity-building for developing countries.
    Case Studies

    How can strong partnerships with migrants and diaspora contribute to sustainable development? In the Republic of Moldova, people with disabilities are among the most vulnerable to social exclusion, with over 170,000 registered people with disabilities. Victoria Dunford left Moldova in 2006 and now lives in the UK. She started the MAD-Aid charity in 2013, with a vision of a society where people with disabilities have access to the same opportunities as others to fulfil their ambitions. 

    See how Victoria mobilizes the Moldovan diaspora in the UK to support social cohesion for the most vulnerable here.

    Image of woman and three children with disabilities

    Key resources on migration and SDG 17: