Migration – A motor of development? !

Bern, Press release, 16.10.2009

Can migration be a driving force behind development? The latest report on human development published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) delves into this very issue. The report points out how migration can be better utilized in reaching development goals. Cognizant of the major role migration plays in development policy, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is strengthening its previous commitment within the scope of a Global Programme.

For many persons in developing countries, the best – and sometimes the only – possibility to improve their life chances consists in moving away and trying their luck somewhere else. Migration is a survival strategy. Among the general public, however, negative stereotypes are frequently associated with migration. The latest Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme is entitled “Overcoming barriers: Human mobility and development”. It aims at forging a comprehensive, well-balanced understanding of migration.

The rigorous analyses in the report disprove a number of popular prejudices. The consequences of migration are not only the exodus of a productive labour force from the countries of the South, but also the generation of positive ramifications for the developing countries. By applying appropriate measures in the source countries and the countries of destination, these beneficial effects can be enhanced. Migration, however, is not to be seen as an alternative, but rather as a complement to the development efforts undertaken by the countries of origin. The developing countries are nonetheless called upon to pro-actively include migration into their development policies.

Migration is also a theme of concern for the SDC. Within the context of its bilateral and multilateral activities, Switzerland’s development agency contributes to maximizing migration’s stimulus to development and to minimizing its negative impacts. The newly created “Global Programme ‘Migration’” deals with questions that affect both the source countries and the countries of destination. More specifically, the SDC for instance promotes the implementation of fundamental rights in the countries of origin and fosters the inclusion of the theme of migration in its partner countries’ development programmes. The SDC also participates in inter-departmental and international dialogue on migration, supports research, and implements its own projects on the theme of migration.

By conducting an in-depth exploration of a different challenge each year, the annual Human Development Report of the UN’s development organization presents a description of progress being made in development in the world’s countries. The 2009 edition focuses on migration. Switzerland belongs to the ten principal donors of funds to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

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