A recent United Nations (UN) debate underlined the importance of managing migration in meeting the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The event took place in late February in New York at UN headquarters. In her opening address, General Assembly President Mariá Fernanda Espinosa stressed that the benefits of migration outweigh the costs. Hundreds of billions of dollars are sent to developing countries in the form of remittances, a contribution estimated to be three times the size of all official development aid, budgeted through 2017. Migrant flows are drivers of diversity, economic growth, innovation and sustainable development.
“Migrants contribute to progressing towards the specific goals of the 2030 agenda such as the reduction of poverty, eradication of hunger and the promotion of health,” Espinosa argued.
Sustainable Development Goal 10 aims to “facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.”
Much has been done, but not enough. Even though poverty has considerably diminished (Goal 1), several geographical areas are still too vulnerable to disasters or require effective social protection systems.
As to hunger, it had declined during a prolonged period (Goal 2) but is again on the rise nowadays: 815 million people were undernourished in 2016, up from 777 million in 2015. While more and more births are attended by skilled health personnel (Goal 3), cases of malaria have been increasing. Child marriage in Southern Asia decreased by over 40 percent between 2000 and 2017.
Nevertheless, gender equality and women empowerment are still far from being achieved (Goal 5). Access to qualified education (Goal 4), safely managed drinking water (Goal 6) and affordable reliable energy (Goal 7) is not to be taken for granted in several parts of the world. Inclusive economic growth (Goal 8) does not mean anything to too many people.
And while global carbon intensity decreased by 19 percent between 2000 and 2015, the proportion of population covered by 3G mobile broadband network is still lower in the LDCs than the global average. This failure in promoting inclusive industrialization and fostering innovation (Goal 9) make the fight against inequality within and among countries (Goal 10) even harder.
Cities and human settlement are not so safe and sustainable (Goal 11) as they should: in 2016, 4.2 million people died from ambient air pollution. Sustainable consumption and production patterns (Goal 12) keep being a target to be reached.
The environment is at the heart of three other missions: combating climate change (Goal 13), conserving the oceans and their resources (Goal 14), promoting and restoring terrestrial ecosystems (Goal 15).
More and more extreme climatic events, increased acidity in ocean waters and biodiversity loss show us that there is still a long way to go. All targets which can be reached just in peaceful and inclusive societies (Goal 16) where the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development can be revitalized.
As UN Secretary General António Guterres writes in the foreword to the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018, we must inject a sense of urgency in achieving the 2030 Agenda. All of us are called to do it.