What we do

In the past, we have worked with local and national authorities, civil society and migrants and diaspora associations in order to empower migrants as actors for development. What we have learned is that to truly enable this, we also need to consider the larger social, cultural, political and economic structures in place that affect and are affected by migration in order to understand how to maximise its development potential.

Thus, the main objective of our current programme is to advance the implementation of the migration related elements of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 11 target countries by promoting policy coherence on migration and development at local, national and global levels.

Policy coherence in migration and development is crucial if we are to achieve all 17 SDGs and truly ensure that no one is left behind. Migration affects and is affected by all governance areas: unhealthy migrants cannot participate in and contribute to society; irregular migrants cannot access decent work; uneducated migrants cannot reach their own individual development potential; global labour demand and supply cannot be met without safe, orderly and regular migration; migrants who are discriminated against or are subject to racism or hate crime stay marginalised and are left behind. Migration is a global phenomenon affecting all countries worldwide and its effective governance needs global partnerships.

To understand more, click on the questions below.

What is policy coherence in migration and development?

Policy coherence for migration and development can be defined as policies that “pursue synergies to advance shared objectives, actively seek to minimise or eliminate negative side effects of policies, (and) prevent policies from detracting from one another or from the achievement of agreed-upon development goals”.

Policy coherence can be achieved at horizontal level, i.e. within the policy areas of one administration, or vertical level, between different levels of governance.

Why vertical policy coherence?

Within a global context of increasing urbanisation with over half of the world’s population now living in cities, cities and other urban areas have fast become the main destination of choice for migrants and displaced persons. Indeed, migrants from one territory tend to migrate to the same territory in the host country. As such, the local level – where the development impact of migration is most profoundly felt – is crucial for comprehensively addressing the challenges and opportunities related to migration. These dynamics are mediated by cities and local and regional actors (LRAs) on the ground, who find themselves at the forefront of managing the link between migration and development. 

As now outlined in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, States have ‘recognised the needs of local authorities, who are first receivers of migrants’, affirmed that the local level is ‘where migration happens’  and therefore that ‘the importance of the local level should underpin all actionable commitments in the Global Compact on Migration.’  Within the New Urban Agenda, migration governance has also been acknowledged as a key success factor to achieve sustainable urban development. 

Thus, while a national response is crucial, this must be aligned with local realities since persisting inequalities, one of the identified drivers of migration, exist not only among different countries, but also within countries, thus necessitating an integral and bottom up approach from the local level. When this alignment and coordination does take place, this allows for vertical coherence whereby cities can feed their expertise and knowledge into national policy making for more responsive and pertinent national policies that can, in turn, be successfully implemented at the local level.

Why horizontal policy coherence?

While traditional ‘migration and development’ approaches consider only what migrants can bring to a society such as remittances or investment, the nexus between migration and development is much more complex with migration affecting and being affected by all governance areas. The policy and structural framework that characterises any given territory or country - the set of conditions acting on a society and that determine the way its members live - can give rise to barriers and disadvantages to harnessing the development potential of migration. These can be economic conditions, governance, the health system, the education system, the labour market and the way diversity is included in society. If these conditions do now allow for the inclusion of migrants, then not only does this limit migrants’ own development and their ability to contribute to development, it can lead to overall negative effects for the community such as urban sprawl and decay, social tension, marginalisation, xenophobia and racism. 

For this reason, we apply a ‘whole-of-government’ approach to migration governance in order to ensure that other policies like agriculture, housing or education, do not undermine migrants’ integration efforts or general migration governance.

What we do: Mainstreaming migration for policy coherence in migration and development

To achieve policy coherence in migration and development, the programme is supporting the ‘mainstreaming’ of migration into national and local policy planning to ensure that the effects of migration and the needs of migrants are considered across all governance areas such as development, health, education etc.

To achieve this we:

  • Support the capacity building of all actors involved to enhance their understanding of and abilities to govern migration for the benefit of all through training, knowledge sharing and exchanges between countries;
  • Support the set-up of and consolidation of coordination mechanisms across governance sectors and between national and local authorities;
  • Provide technical and financial assistance for the implementation of initiatives that are putting policies that integrate migration considerations into action at both national and local levels. 


For more information on how we do this, see our training tools and case studies in the M4D Resources tab.

How we ensure our work, tools and experience are reflected in global dialogues on migration and development

We take what we learn from the countries we support and turn this into training tools, knowledge and good practices to share and disseminate globally through our active participation in strategic global dialogues. 

By doing this, we try to ensure that the knowledge we gain can be beneficial to the international community and other partners, governments and actors around the world – and our work is being increasingly recognised! 

See the global dialogues below showing how the international community is recognizing both the need to work with and involve local and regional authorities, as well as the need for a whole-of-government approach across all governance sectors for enhanced policy coherence in migration and development.

The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD)

The Mayoral Forum on Human Mobility, Migration and Development

World Migration Report 2015 (WMR)

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

New Urban Agenda

New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants

UNSG Special Representative on Migration Report

Puerto Vallarta Report

UNSG report on Making Migration Work for All

Zero Draft Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM)

Zero Draft Global compact on refugees (GCR)

Where do we work?

The programme is working in partnership with 11 countries as listed below. This selection of countries represents a purposefully diverse range of political, developmental and migratory contexts which allows us to test and learn from our work in different scenarios – there is no one size fits all solution to migration governance!

Click on a country to go to a country profile which will tell you about the country and concretely what we are doing there. 

  • Bangladesh
  • Ecuador
  • Jamaica
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Moldova
  • Morocco
  • Nepal
  • Philippines
  • Senegal
  • Serbia
  • Tunisia