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International Migration and the Millennium Development Goals:
Selected Papers of the UNFPA Expert Group Meeting

United Nations Population Fund

11-12 May 2005

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The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) hosted an Expert Group Meeting on International Migration and the Millennium Development Goals in Marrakech, Morocco on 11-12 May 2005. Invited experts were requested to speak on a number of topics relating to migration and development, including: poverty reduction, health, gender, environment, and global partnerships for development with a view towards exploring migration as both a facilitating and constraining factor in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

This report is a compilation of selected papers presented at the meeting together with a synopsis of the discussion highlighting some of the more salient points raised by the experts. It also reflects an attempt to spur the debate further by suggesting possibilities for programmatic activities in the areas of data and research, policy and capacity development. As international migration gains greater scope and impact,UNFPA and other international entities have a critical role in facilitating strategic directions that strengthen responses to its challenges while capitalizing on the opportunities that migration presents to the individual migrants, their larger community and both sending and receiving countries.


International migration is a phenomenon that is shaped by population dynamics, regional developments, social, economic and political push and pull factors and other factors such as history and culture. A number of contemporary global migration patterns distinguish today’s migration landscape from that of the past. First, there is a rapid increase in the stock of migrants in developed countries over developing ones. Second, a high concentration of migrants is to be found in a small number of countries: three fourths of the world’s migrants are found in just 28 countries—with one in every five migrants residing in the United States. Third, three per cent of the world’s population is international migrants but developing countries have larger migrant stocks. Fourth, an increasing percentage of women migrate, estimated to be about 49 per cent, though this is not true for developing regions where the number has decreased. Fifth, all countries are now affected by migration and many, if not most, can be categorized as countries of “origin, transit and destination”.

Migration has been recently associated with increased globalization and development and presents both challenges and opportunities to the achievement of the MDGs. It will be in facing and overcoming the challenges of international migration that the achievement of the MDGs will be facilitated or constrained. This can be expedited through appropriate policy and actions at global, regional, national and grassroots levels.

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