IOM’s recipe: integrating migration issues into EU development policy

By Anastasiia Vasileva

It is no secret that the 2015 migration crisis has changed the European Union (EU) dramatically and put a divide into its ‘speaking with one voice’ strategy. Until today, a number of projects have  been put in place by the EU towards migration management and regulation policies reducing the incentives for illegal migration. One of them is its development aid towards developing countries where, together with international organizations and local NGOs, the EU is striving to sustainably reduce poverty, mitigate climate change, and  put migration at the heart of development aid. Being the largest donor of development aid in the world, the EU has funded the “Mainstreaming Migration into International Cooperation and Development” (MMICD) project, implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) since 2017, that is set to strengthen the process of integrating migration into cooperation and development policy. 

Undoubtedly,  the EU has been continuously giving due importance to the development aid as it believes that in order to reap the benefits of globalization it is imperative that trade regimes and governance challenges are overcome in developing countries. In fact, the EU is willing to increase its development aid to at least 0.7% of its annual gross national income to keep up with its commitments. Drawing on the commitments of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals, the EU has adopted the European Consensus on Development (2017) that reflects the challenges and substantive opportunities that migration brings with it into the developing world, but also to the EU, which is why the MMICD project is in place to meet the demands of such international obligations.

By developing guidelines and implementing them into practice in the selected pilot countries, namely in Madagascar, Ecuador and Nepal, the project creates the Toolkits for further implementation of policies and guidelines in other partner countries. The aim of the initiative has been to integrate developed guidelines into the pilot countries’ national plans and policies – a goal that has already been achieved. Unlike other broad development initiatives, the MMICD has been designed with sectoral focus, including education, rural development, employment, health, governance, urban development, private sector development, trade, security, environment and climate change under its sectoral umbrella. In each of the pilot countries the project focuses on improving two specifically selected development sectors. For each sector, the IOM has developed a specific guide complimented by the Toolkit for effective implementation – striving to meet Target 10.7 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, systematizing and fostering safe, planned and well-managed migration policies into development.

The project has also been adapted to the Covid pandemic and tailored a Toolkit with concrete development-centred programmes for policymakers and practitioners to integrate migration into Covid-19 Socio-Economic response. The applied nature of the Toolkit makes it a universal instrument, ready for structural improvements.

Already during the pilot countries implementation phase, there has been a much needed quality change in the strategic planning for urbanization management. For instance, in the case of Madagascar, where the project has been particularly focusing on rural development and urbanization, the IOM, together with the Ministry of Land Management and local authorities of the city of Ambalavao is pilot-testing its context-specific guide, developed for the time period between 2021-2035. The guidelines have managed to address the current challenges of the community such as the demands of a growing population, of internal migration and of the expansion strategy currently pursued. It is essential that the linkages between mobility, urban development and population growth are addressed, allowing the growing number of children to continue to access education services, as well as the new urban population to enjoy services such as health centres, police stations, public water stations and more, sustainably adapting the city’s infrastructure to the growing need of its citizens.

By implementing the practical guidelines and training materials in pilot countries the IOM, in coordination with local governments, integrates migration into the mainstream development sectors. This includes activities such as training, country assessments, technical assistance, capacity building, and exchange of the best practices with partners, which, in the long term, will generate employment opportunities and foster urban development. By relying on the IOM’s operations in the MMICD project, the EU is thus pursuing its European Consensus on Development agenda, integrating migration in its developing aid for a more sustainable future.

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