Today, I participated in the launch of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Observatory on Migration. I want to flag this launch because migration is an issue of global significance and a strong concern for Southern countries and Europe. When we think about migration and developing countries, we tend to focus on people who are coming to Europe. What often escapes our attention is so called South-South migration, i.e. migration from one developing country to another. The scope of this migration is huge as it is estimated that 60% of migrants from the South move to another developing country and only 40% go to the so called North. For example, an estimated 80% of all migrants in Africa stay on the continent! This estimate demonstrates the need to gain more accurate knowledge on South-South migration because so far we do not have sufficient data on this issue.
This is precisely the objective of the new Observatory we just launched with ACP countries: to bridge this gap and shed more light on these issues.
This new research body will provide reliable data and information on migration flows between and within these countries. It will allow national and regional authorities to formulate and implement economical and development policies which will benefit the migrants.
It goes without saying, that migration is a complex phenomenon but I would like to touch upon a few factors that determine today’s migration flows.
First of all, migration is influenced by the economic growth of developed and emerging countries as well as regional economic activities. It could also be influenced by the exploration of energy and other mineral resources across Africa, the discovery of which brings a significant economic and financial impact.
We are also increasingly confronted with the trend of migration into urban areas. Today, cities all over the world are facing dramatic increases in their migrant populations, which can be a source of increased growing poverty. In my view, the Observatory on Migration will need to analyse these phenomena to come up with indications of the root causes of these problems, and potential ways to address them.
Climate change will have an impact on migration, especially in ACP countries. This process could become a significant source of migration and potentially add to the numbers of internally displaced persons all over the world.
Furthermore, risks of instability in international affairs will continue to be major sources of migration flows. In this respect I see the Observatory as having the special role of signalling potential conflicts and pre-empting the scale of migratory flows at the very early stages. It is important that the development community has such information so that it can be prepared to take actions.
Let me also highlight another very important factor – population imbalances. If the current trends continue without immigration, the EU will loose 48 million of its working population by 2050 on the one hand, and Africa will have almost 2 billion inhabitants, on the other. This factor will influence people’s decisions to migrate, either by legal or illegal means.
Finally, the work of the Observatory could help us to give a second thought to remittances and the economic impact they have on families, villages, regions, cities, even entire countries. It is important that we learn more about the amount of money being remitted from abroad as our information is sparse. It is believed that 414 billion USD of remittances were sent home by migrants and approximately 316 billion USD were sent to developing countries. These figures correspond with the development aid given to ACP countries.
I trust that, thanks to the activities of the new Observatory, we will be able to better understand how migration can contribute to development policy.