GENEVA - Every year on 18 December, we pay tribute to the 281 million people around the world who are international migrants. What do we know about their current situation as the world is facing multiple crises? What role does migration play for the global goals? We spoke with UN DESA’s Clare Menozzi to find out.

1. Our world is facing multiple crises: conflicts, war, hunger and an escalating climate emergency. How is this all affecting international migration?

“Every year, millions of people migrate across international borders in a safe, orderly and regular manner. However, unfavourable political, economic, social and environmental circumstances, combined with unrealistic perceptions of the opportunities available abroad and limited understanding of the risks and dangers can compel people to migrate even when they do not have access to safe and regular pathways.

Under such circumstances, migrants can become vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, can fall victim to human traffickers, and, in extreme cases, even lose their lives. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), since 2014, more than 4,000 fatalities have been recorded annually along migratory routes worldwide, with many more migrant deaths going unrecorded.

To reduce these risks, it is critical to create opportunities for people to migrate in a dignified, safe and orderly fashion, upholding and protecting the human rights of all migrants, regardless of their migration status.

Addressing the adverse drivers and structural factors that hinder people from building and maintaining sustainable livelihoods in their own country can also reduce the pressure to migrate irregularly.

Ultimately, as stated in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration ‘migration should never be an act of desperation.’”

2. What can you tell us about the average person on the move today? What trends do you foresee in the coming years?

“International migrants are an extremely diverse group of people. They hail from all continents and often have very different social and economic backgrounds and characteristics. It is not trivial, therefore, to identify who is a typical, “average” migrant.

Looking to the future, it is extremely difficult to predict how international migration trends will unfold. However, it is likely that the volume and complexity of international migration flows will continue to grow, influenced, in part, by other global trends, including climate change, population dynamics and urbanization.

Conflicts and crises, which have played a significant role in shaping migration trends in the past, are also likely to keep international migration at the centre of the global policy debate going forward. The number of refugees and asylum seekers forced to flee across international borders because of persecution, conflict, violence, and human rights violations rose in 2022 to the highest level in decades.”

3. What role does migration play in our efforts to achieve the Sustainable
Development Goals?

“International migrants are important agents of change, making positive contributions to sustainable development in communities of origin and destination. International migration can facilitate the achievement of many Goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Conversely, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda can reduce the adverse drivers that compel people to move, making the option to remain in one’s country a more viable choice.

International migrants, despite their many contributions, are also among the groups most vulnerable to being “left behind” in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To maximise the benefits of migration and minimize its negative effects, it is critical to create opportunities for people to migrate in a safe, orderly and regular manner. Respecting, protecting and fulfilling the human all migrants, regardless of their migration status, also enhances the development potential of migration.