Development Centre

Leveraging migration, remittances and diaspora for financing sustainable development




Tuesday, July 14, 2015

15:30-18:00 (local time)

Hotel Elilly, Conference Hall

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

(As prepared for delivery)


Ladies and Gentlemen,


It has been both a privilege and a pleasure for the OECD Development Centre to co-organise this side event with the Global Migration Group and the World Bank. Thank you for working with us.


And many thanks to all of you for this very thoughtful conversation this afternoon.


Today’s high-level discussion on the role of migration, remittances and diasporas in financing development is perhaps one of — if not the only discussion – of its kind during this entire Conference. It recognises two clear realities.


First, by broadening the focus beyond remittances, today’s conversation highlights that migrants are among the main actors of financing for development.


And, second, the discussion recognises migration’s prominent place in the post-2015 agenda, given the inclusion of migration-related targets in the SDGs.


What we learned today


So, in this new reality, today’s discussion left me with three key take-aways:

  • one recognises that emigrants are a major source of finance for development;
  • another highlights that migrants contribute not only to the development of the countries of origin, but also destination;
  • and the third reminds us that migrants and native citizens need equal conditions.


 Let me explain each of these.


First, emigrants contribute to the development of their countries of origin probably more than most other sources of finance for development.

  • Our World Bank colleague, Dilip Ratha, reminded us that the remittances sent by migrants represented more than 3 times the global flows of aid to developing countries in 2014.


  • These remittances feed the economy of many developing countries. In some instances, they help finance productive investment projects.


  • In addition, Stephen Pursey from the ILO and Ambassador Michael Gerber explained other ways migrants contribute to the development of their countries of origin, highlighting the role of diasporas.


Second, the impact of migration, remittances and diasporas is felt not just in countries of origin, but also in countries of destination.

  • The joint work of the ILO and the OECD Development Centre, which my colleague David Khoudour explained, will deepen our understanding of the economic contribution of labour migration in developing countries as countries of destination.


  • Mobilising domestic resources is key to development. In this respect, it is important to highlight that immigrants are not only workers and consumers, but also taxpayers. As such, they also contribute to the development of their countries of destination.



And third, migrants can best contribute to the development of both countries of origin and destination if they can move safely and work in conditions equal to native citizens.

  • Stephen made this point when he talked about lowering recruitment costs, which act as an indirect tax on the poorest migrants.


  • Lakshmi Puri, from UN Women, also highlighted the specific challenges women face.


Policy implications


Now, I see some clear policy implications from what our panellists brought to light today. Policy makers in both countries of origin and destination have concrete choices ahead of them.


They can help lower the costs associated with two things: with moving from one country to another and with sending remittances.

  • Signing bilateral agreements between countries of origin and destination can facilitate labour mobility and reduce recruitment costs.
  • Strengthening competition among money transfer operators can help reduce intermediary costs on the remittance market.


Policy makers in countries of destination should strengthen their anti-discrimination and integration policies.

  • They can facilitate the integration of immigrants into the labour market and into society. This, of course, would benefit migrants, their families and their countries of origin.
  • But countries of destination would also benefit from immigrant communities that are better integrated.


Policy makers should also create an enabling policy environment for leveraging migration’s development impact.

  • In countries of origin, for instance, social protection or education programmes—like conditional cash transfers and education scholarships for children—can free up a family’s money and allow it to then put remittances towards productive investments.
  • In countries of destination, labour market, education and skills, social protection or skills investment policies can help integrate immigrants into their host countries.




What this discussion confirms for sure is migration’s central role in the global development agenda for both countries of origin and countries of destination.


This year in particular -with this conference and with the upcoming adoption of the SDGs in the fall in New York -migration’s place on the development agenda can gain the prominence it deserves.


We have an opportunity now to create greater coherence among policies to maximise migration’s role as a driver of development. So, let’s make it happen. Because, ultimately, we cannot say that migration and remittances are key to financing development if we then adopt increasingly anti-immigration measures all around the world.


Thank you very much.




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