Migrant Contributions to
Society: Case studies

  • Author: IOM Migration and Sustainable Development Unit
  • Level: Beginner
  • Time: 90 minutes
  • Quizzes: 10
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Course description

This course will provide a short introduction to: 
a) the ways migration and migrants enhance our communities and
b) the risks that excluding or ignoring the realities of migration pose.
This course aims to enhance journalists’ and other communications experts’ abilities to understand and accurately inform the public about how human mobility impacts their community, economy, and society by providing short case studies that showcase how migration relates to various facets of our life, such as employment, environment & climate change, education, and health.  

Migrants can help build stronger, more inclusive, and resilient communities through the knowledge, networks, and skills that they bring to their communities. Shaping our world at every turn, migration is a global phenomenon that touches us all. We are all reliant – for our health, our food, and our economy – on the safe, orderly, and regular movement of people. At the same time, the pandemic has also demonstrated that reduced human mobility can have significant negative effects on our communities, exacerbating inequalities and poverty and putting our global progress towards prosperous and healthy societies (what is often termed “sustainable development”) at risk.  

Sustainable development means progress for all, not only some and to do this, we must create equal societies that are inclusive of migrants, regardless of their status. The case studies used in this course will provide real-life examples to demonstrate why and how. These videos are part of a series that has been produced by IOM through the “Mainstreaming Migration into International Cooperation and Development” (MMICD) initiative funded by the EU. Check out our platform, the M4D Net (Migration4Development.org), to find more resources, case studies, and data about how migration can benefit and bring opportunities to our communities. 

Course content

Migration and the 2030 Agenda
Migrants have a critical role to play to help fulfil the promises of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is our global roadmap for achieving a fairer, safer and more inclusive society by 2030. We have nine years left to achieve these Goals, but the pandemic is threatening to undo much of the progress we have made so far for peace, equality, and a better future for all. Migration and migrants contribute to many different aspects of sustainable development. Addressing poverty and hunger, ensuring good health and wellbeing, providing quality education, combatting climate change and other critical global challenges cannot be achieved without due consideration of migration. 

Case Studies: 

1. Preventing Forced Migration and Adapting to a Changing Climate
What is the relationship between migration and environment and climate change, and how does this impact sustainable development? Climate change impacts us all. Frequent high tides and prolonged droughts are the new normal, forcing many people to move internally and across borders as a result of land degradation and more regular climate disasters. Disasters trigger over three-quarters of all new internal displacement globally (IDMC, 2021). But climate action in local communities that take migration into account can help prevent forced displacement and build stronger, more resilient communities that adapt to changing climates. Carlon’s story shows us why we should all consider the effects of climate change on mobility and what we can do about it. 

2. Healthy Migrants, Healthy Communities
What is the relationship between migration and health, and how does this impact sustainable development? Migrant workers’ ability to access health services can contribute to their well-being and productivity, improve businesses, and have positive ripple effects in the wider community where they work and back at home. This is especially important during a global pandemic when migrants are often unable to access health centres and vaccinations due to a variety of barriers ranging from prohibitive costs and exclusionary policies to fear, discrimination, and xenophobia. Fernando, who left Mozambique to work on a remote farm in South Africa, was able to access mobile health clinics which helped him stay healthy. His story shows why migrants’ access to health services can benefit us all.

3. Enriching Rural Communities Through Migration for Sustainable Agriculture
What is the relationship between migration and rural development, and how does this impact sustainable development? Our food systems rely on migrants to produce, harvest, transport, and sell the fruits, vegetables, and meat that end up on our tables. When migrants are empowered to use their skills and when their labour rights are protected, mobility has the potential to help improve sustainable food production and global agricultural value chains, ultimately leading to healthier, wealthier, and stronger individuals, families, and communities. Garry’s story shows why we migrants are key players in our efforts to achieve sustainable food production and strong rural communities.

4. Return Migrants Contributing to Entrepreneurship and Growth
What is the relationship between migration and private sector development and trade, and how does this impact sustainable development? Return migrants often contribute to their countries of return by bringing new cultures, skills and capital which can foster innovation in private sector development. At a time when COVID-19 has forced millions of migrants to return home due to border closures and unemployment, migrants can kick-start economies into recovery by setting up businesses and using the skills they gained abroad in their communities. Listen to Joji’s story to understand the opportunities migration brings for private sector development and trade.

5. Migrant Mineworkers Advocating for Decent Work
What is the relationship between migration and employment, and how does this impact sustainable development? Despite the wealth of potential benefits of safe and regular labour migration for migrants, employers, and communities, migrant workers continue to face vulnerability and exploitation in the workplace, including barriers to access social protection, retirement benefits, and more. But if we uphold their basic rights, migrant workers can make important contributions to sustainable development and economic growth. Listen to Moises' story to understand how employers and national institutions can take migrants' experiences into account when designing policies and plans. 

6. Returning Migrants Participating in Decision-Making Back Home 
What is the relationship between migration and governance, and how does this impact sustainable development? The achievement of a better world requires inclusive, responsive, and equitable processes and institutions, as well as enabling people and migrants to become active participants in those processes. Novelita returned to the Philippines after working as a domestic worker abroad. Now, she advocates for migrants’ rights. Her story shows that migrants play an important role in promoting just and inclusive societies.

7. Protecting Sustainable Livelihoods with Innovative Border Security  
What is the relationship between migration and security, and how does this impact sustainable development? Good border management can help States maintain security, protect biodiversity, and promote small-scale fishers’ access to productive resources, services and markets. Listen to Larry’s story to understand why migration and security’s relationship is much more complex than we are typically led to believe.

8. Migrants Working with Megacities on Disaster Risk Reduction   
What is the relationship between migration and urban development, and how does this impact sustainable development? In densely populated cities, migrants often live in makeshift accommodation and struggle to access services, risking safety and well-being, especially in areas that are vulnerable to natural hazards. Listen to Rebecca’s story to understand why it is essential to consider how migration and urbanization intersect, and why we must integrate migration into urban policies, plans and programmes. 

9. Harnessing Human Potential Through Schooling for All   
What is the relationship between migration and education, and how does this impact sustainable development? In transit communities, sexual and reproductive health information, counselling, and support can help ensure that young people remain in school and are able to meet their educational goals. Hear from Marlene who lives in Mozambique near the border with South Africa and frequently sees young people in her community drop out of school. Her story shows that access to quality education can support migrants and strengthen communities. 

Certificate of Completion
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IOM Migration and Sustainable Development Unit

IOM’s Migration and Sustainable Development Unit (M&SD Unit) seeks to harness the potential of human mobility for sustainable development by improving migration governance, addressing forced displacement and addressing migrants’ specific needs and vulnerabilities. Safe, regular and orderly migration benefits all societies, migrants and displaced persons. We empower migrants, diaspora and transnational communities as agents of change in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Global Compact for Migration. We work with local and national governments, civil society organizations, UN partner agencies, migration and development practitioners and other stakeholders such as the media and academic institutions to build and share knowledge, creating long-term partnerships and fostering holistic approaches. The Unit ultimately aims to help build stronger, more inclusive and resilient communities by integrating mobility into policy, practice and programming.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed pharetra iaculis elementum. Nulla id est a velit suscipit faucibus. Ut quis ultrices ex. Aliquam aliquet tortor justo, in ultrices odio tempus nec. Aliquam bibendum elit augue, ac sagittis eros ultricies sit amet.