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Move4Dev: Turning movement into momentum for inclusive and sustainable development

Kristina Mikulova's picture
In observance of the International Migrants Day, Dec 18

Today, there are record-breaking numbers of people on the move. This has presented us with the challenge of translating movement into momentum for inclusive and sustainable development.

As we look forward to 2017, we know it will be a crucial year in setting the tone for this agenda. To take stock, the Slovakia Presidency of the European Union and the World Bank held a landmark conference this month on large people movements, in the hopes of providing a multi-stakeholder platform for an open conversation about shaping the future Global Compacts on refugees and migrants in 2017-2018.

The event, called “Move4Dev”, attracted 25 distinguished speakers and more than 200 participants. They included representatives from the World Bank Group, European Commission, European Investment Bank, United Nations, Council of Europe Development Bank, International Organization for Migration, International Labor Organization, leading private firms and officials of the German and Canadian governments.
Move4Dev sought to answer two questions, posed in the opening remarks by Mr Franciscus August Godts, the World Bank’s Executive Director for ten countries, including the host of Move4Dev, Slovakia:

1) How do we ensure that societies reap the benefits of people movements?
2) How do we better assist these societies as they struggle to address the root causes that make people want to leave their homes in the first place?

Unsurprisingly, we found that people do not move out of a sudden impulse. More and more migrants, alongside refugees, risk their lives for reasons that are far more profound. They move due to deep-seated, structural factors that include fragility, conflict and violence; good – or bad – governance; poverty, inequality and jobs; disasters and environmental change, and many others. We grouped these factors together into clusters that we dubbed the “politics”, “economics”, “culture”, “nature” and “returns” on migration.

The “economics” panel, most intimately related to the Bank’s core mandate, delivered a sobering message on the transformative effects of people movements on the global economy. When people move, everything is on the move. Money is on the move. Skills are on the move. Pensions are on the move. Credit history is on the move.” This is how I summarized this discussion, as the moderator and emissary of the Slovakia EU Presidency.

But humanitarian and development partners still know too little to craft an informed and adequate response: data gaps remain notable. Dilip Ratha, Head of the World Bank’s Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD), estimated that 250 million people, 21 million of them forcibly displaced, are currently on the go. By 2050, 900 million people will have to look for jobs outside their countries of origin.

The “nature” panel warned us that climate change could compound these numbers and concentrate them in a few corners of the globe. The Bank is working with innovators such as Flowminder to better grasp how people will move – how fast, and how soon.

Tapping into the “returns” on migration will require cutting-edge solutions and stronger partnerships with tech leaders, as concluded by the panel on remittances. Remitr and Bitpesa gave us a live demonstration of how their applications can send money anywhere in the world in real time, and at a fraction of the cost currently incurred by more traditional channels of transfer.

Panelists reiterated that migration is a phenomenon with positive net effects that can be harnessed for economic growth and well-being of
populations in origin, transit and destination countries alike. Yet unfortunately, this outlook is neither dominant nor popular at this time.

The panels on the “politics” and “culture” of people movements reminded us that technical solutions alone will not suffice. Multiple countries are experiencing a backlash against globalization and the permeable borders that it has created. “We have to change the narrative currently associated with large movements of people. And this has more to do with framing than with economics – people do not seem to be responding to facts and figures alone,” said Katarina Mathernova from the European Commission.

Looking ahead, finding a compelling narrative will be an overarching challenge for stakeholders throughout the high-level dialogue on refugees and migrants due to commence in 2017. Keynote speaker Jan Figel, the EU’s Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief told us that, “[Sending] a moral and political signal is highly important today when we see a growing tendency to build new walls: new walls in Europe, but also in America. There are growing divisions and walls in the minds and hearts of the people. These are products of three allies of evil: indifference, ignorance, fear. Where these dominate, common good is destroyed.”
 

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