Migration and migrants should urgently be included in efforts to develop a green and sustainable development agenda, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said.
With more than 214 million international migrants and 740 million internal migrants worldwide, migration is a megatrend of the 21st century, with consequences that will durably impact political, social and economic systems and change the composition of nation states, IOM said in message to mark World Environment Day.
"Integrating migration into a new sustainable development agenda is essential to ensure migrants contribute their knowledge and skills in key areas such as poverty reduction, health, education, the environment and gender equality," said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing.
Migrants already play a significant development role through the transfer of knowledge and skills, the $400 billion they remit home each year and because they develop transnational networks, businesses and investments that are essential to the well-being of societies.
"If systematically included in development policies, the multiple contributions of migrants can significantly contribute to sustainable and green strategies," Mr. Swing said.
Furthermore, migration remains a possible adaptation strategy for populations affected by environmental degradation and climate change.
IOM said that migration, either international or internal, can alleviate pressure on natural resources. It can also represent a viable alternative for populations living in areas facing soil degradation or deforestation.
While some National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) produced by Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to adapt to climate change include references to migration, more can be done to strengthen the role of migration in the adaptation context, IOM said.
The 16th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun called attention for the first time to "climate change induced displacement, migration and relocation."
"I am heartened by the fact that migration and population displacement now feature in a UN Climate Change document, but we need to go further,” Mr. Swing said. “As the international migration agency, we are committed to making progress in three main areas. First, to support the least developed and developing countries in their efforts to integrate migration into adaptation planning, as they are currently developing their National Adaptation Plans. Second, to continue our work on mainstreaming migrants' contributions into development strategies. Third, to enhance capacities needed to manage environmental migration."