World Bank, Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency Endorse New Initiative on Migration

September 11, 2013

GENEVA, September 11, 2013 – The World Bank Group and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) today signaled progress in their collaboration on the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD), a new initiative on migration and development issues. KNOMAD is envisioned as a global hub of knowledge and policy expertise on migration.

The two institutions have been collaborating to establish KNOMAD, which was initiated by The World Bank Group in 2011. SDC is the top donor to the KNOMAD, with a contribution of 5 million Swiss francs (about $5.3 million).  

KNOMAD, which is also supported by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), is now operational. It collaborates with well known academic centers and multilateral institutions, including the United Nations, Global Migration Group (GMG), and the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD).

The program was initiated in response to perceived knowledge gaps and need for policy responses in the face of rapid growth in international and domestic migration over the last decade. Today, nearly one billion people – that is, one out of every seven persons on the planet – have migrated internally or across international borders in search for better job opportunities and living conditions.

"With more and more people choosing migration as a route to escape poverty and improve their living conditions, migration has become integral to development. There is ample research to show that migration is linked to the reduction of poverty and better health and education outcomes,” said Mr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, Special Envoy of The World Bank Group President. “The World Bank Group remains committed to the migration and remittances agenda, and KNOMAD is a significant element of that commitment.”

One key measure of the magnitude of international migration is remittances, i.e. money sent by migrants to their families in their home countries, which The World Bank Group has been tracking since 2003. At over $400 billion annually, remittances provide an economic lifeline to many developing countries. For example, India received $70 billion in remittances in 2012, more than three times the size of foreign direct investment (FDI). Egypt received $21 billion, nearly three times the value of its revenue from the Suez Canal. In many smaller countries, such as Tajikistan or Liberia, remittances are between one-third and one-half of the national income. Remittances are the largest source of foreign exchange in many countries, especially poor or conflict-affected countries, providing critical balance of payments support. Remittances have also been more resilient during financial crises than private capital flows.

KNOMAD’s focus on migration and development meets a critical demand for a sound knowledge base in a thematic field that is still relatively new to us. Many crucial questions, however, remain unanswered and the complexity of the phenomenon only exacerbates the challenge of dealing with migration in a way that is beneficial to all stakeholders,” said Dr. Martin Dahinden, Director-General of SDC. “KNOMAD’s focus on migration and development comes at the right time.”

KNOMAD’s work program focuses on the following 12 key thematic areas:

  • Data on migration and remittance flows;
  • Skilled labor migration;
  • Low-skilled labor migration;
  • Integration issues in host communities;
  • Policy and institutional coherence;
  • Migration, security and development; 
  • Migrant rights and social aspects of migration;
  • Demographic changes and migration;
  • Remittances, including access to finance and capital markets;
  • Mobilizing diaspora resources as agents of social and economic change;
  • Environmental change and migration; and
  • Internal migration and urbanization.

In addition, KNOMAD will also address cross-cutting themes of gender, monitoring and evaluation, capacity building, and public perception and communication.

Working groups on each key theme have been formed to discuss and coordinate ongoing research on migration issues, with the aim of developing policy options for sending and receiving countries. Beyond the World Bank Group and SDC, the following organizations are represented in the thematic working groups: International Organization for Migration (IOM), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), International Labor Organization (ILO), Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations Institute for Training & Research (UNITAR), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Migration Policy Institute (MPI), Geneva Centre for Security Policy, Migrant Forum Asia, and Germany’s GIZ.

KNOMAD is a contribution to the migration and development agenda at the global, regional, national or local levels. Its outputs are public goods and include data, books, workshops, conferences, policy notes, research papers and pilot projects.

“Migration is rarely included in the development strategies of countries, despite the massive scale at which domestic and international migration is taking place. KNOMAD aims to mobilize global brain power to enable host and home countries, as well as migrant workers, to derive the full benefits of migration,” said Dilip Ratha, Manager of the World Bank’s Migration and Remittances Unit and Head of KNOMAD.

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