The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes that migration is a powerful driver of sustainable development, for migrants and their communities. It brings significant benefits in the form of skills, strengthening the labour force, investment and cultural diversity, and contributes to improving the lives of communities in their countries of origin through the transfer of skills and financial resources. As such and in recognition of the development impact and impacts on development of migration, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is deeply rooted in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The benefits of migration should not be seen only from the perspective of what migrants can bring to any given territory. The relationship between migration and sustainable development is much more complex: the political, social and economic processes of potential destination countries will also determine how, where and when migration occurs. If migration is poorly governed, it can also negatively impact development. Migrants can be put at risk and communities can come under strain.  

As outlined in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, “migration is a multi-dimensional reality that cannot be addressed by one government policy sector alone”. IOM  applies a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to migration governance, striving to ensure that migration and migrants’ needs are considered across all policy areas, laws and regulations from health to education and from fiscal policies to trade. 

IOM Institutional Strategy on Migration and Sustainable Development  

The IOM Institutional Strategy on Migration and Sustainable Development outlines a whole-of-organization approach to comprehensively integrate migration and development into policymaking and programming within IOM. It recognizes that migration, when well-managed, can be both a development strategy and a development outcome.   

The Strategy represents IOM’s direct contribution to the Decade of Action to fast-track progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The Strategy brings greater coherence and development impact to IOM’s activities and allows for a joined-up approach to the way the Organization designs and delivers its operations, as called for in IOM’s Strategic Vision. It supports IOM’s active engagement in the UN Development System and hinges on building stronger partnerships within the UN system and beyond. 

The IOM Regional Strategy for Asia and the Pacific reflects IOM’s active engagement towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. By prioritizing the three pillars of the IOM Strategic Vision – resilience, mobility and governance – it serves as a nexus between the Asia-Pacific community and other global frameworks of relevance, as the international community makes strides in “building back better” from the pandemic.   

A comprehensive approach to migration and development

A whole-of-government approach

IOM supports governments in understanding how all of these governance areas are interrelated and are affected by migration and to what extent other sectoral policies facilitate or impede migrants’ ability to contribute to society.  

To achieve this, IOM supports governments with ‘mainstreaming’ migration into local and national policy planning.  

This means amending or developing new national, regional and local laws, policies and plans that take into consideration these interlinkages and the needs of and challenges faced by migrants.  

This ensures that policies ranging from health to education and from urban planning to housing are inclusive of migrants and coherent with migration governance priorities.  

IOM also assists governments to then pilot and implement these policies and plans as needed. Moreover, as the 2030 Agenda calls for an approach that pursues policy coherence and an enabling environment for sustainable development at all levels and by all actors, IOM supports migration stakeholders within the Asia Pacific Region to move towards a whole-of-government approach to achieve policy coherence on migration governance. By strengthening the coherence between migration and development agendas, migration policies can improve development outcomes and development policies can improve migration outcomes. 

A whole-of-society approach

While policymaking on migration governance tends to take place at the national level, a national-only approach fails to consider that the development impact of migration is most profoundly felt at the local level. In order to be able to mainstream migration into community development plans for a more cohesive society, IOM supports the development of local migration profiles and community mapping exercises to facilitate this. In addition, IOM supports its Member States to strengthen the capacities of their community leaders and sub-national authorities to set up conducive environments at the community level to ensure social cohesion and development impact that benefits all of society. This entails empowering local and regional authorities as ‘first responders to migration’ and closest to their constituents as crucial actors in migration governance for development.  

Engaging, empowering and enabling migrants as development actors

The extent to which migrants can contribute to development is directly linked to their ability to access services, integrate into society and stay connected to their communities of origin.  

Migrants can face many barriers that limit their ability to reach their full development potential. IOM works with its member states to promote the protection of migrants’ rights and empower them through the provision of services and support they need to become an integral part of their new society as well as contribute to their home communities. This means helping governments engage, enable and empower their diaspora and migrants in development efforts. 

Within the Asia and Pacific region, it is recognized that many of the SDGs deal with global and regional public goods which require improved, national and regional cooperation and partnerships in order to make the necessary investments to reduce inequalities. However, the convergence of three factors namely: the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, coupled with an increase in the frequency and intensity of human-made crises and natural disasters threaten the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development within Asia and the Pacific. “Leaving no one behind” will require, inter alia, greater attention to addressing the root causes of inequalities, including ensuring the social, economic and political inclusion of all people, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or socioeconomic status; reversing discriminatory practices so that nobody is excluded. This would include actions aimed at ensuring migrants are included in public welfare schemes as well as stronger regional cooperation to facilitate labour mobility and to better monitor the impact of investments, including FDIs, on the poorest and most vulnerable workers.  

Contact information

For more information, please contact RO Bangkok Policy and Liaison Unit at