Activities of the KNOMAD are organised around Thematic Working Groups. Each Thematic Working Group will comprise a chair, a co-chair and 3-8 leading experts in their respective fields, selected through a peer-referral process. The chair and co-chair will be responsible for developing a work-program for the group, ensuring delivery and monitoring results. KNOMAD's outputs include policy notes, data, research papers and books, conferences, capacity building workshop and pilot projects.
International labor migration can be broadly characterized by the movement of low and high skilled workers. International low-skilled labor migration is projected to increase over the medium- and long- term because of demographic changes, the growing need for such workers in high-income and emerging countries, and the lack of decent work opportunities in sending countries. Low- skilled migration has the potential to lift families out of poverty and to enable productive household investments in housing, education and additional income-generating activities. A key development objective for low-skilled migration is to enhance the welfare of migrant workers and their families by maximizing the benefits of migration and reducing its costs, particularly monetary costs associated with obtaining jobs abroad.
High skilled migration can have diverse and potentially opposing set of effects in sending countries, especially among those that have human capital shortages and face other development constraints. On one hand, emigration may lead to lower provision of services (such as education, healthcare and innovation) that are critical for growth and poverty reduction. On the other hand, high-skilled migrants integrate their home countries into the global economy by facilitating transfer of knowledge and financial resources and building numerous other economic, social and cultural linkages with higher income countries. In order to identify the development impact of high skilled migration, understanding emerging patterns is crucial, along with their linkages to underlying economic, social and cultural pull-and-push factors. A related objective is to identify and develop innovative approaches to facilitate the recognition of foreign skills, qualification and competencies of migrant workers at various skill levels to better facilitate integration into formal labor markets at destination.
Areas of Focus
- Work on advancing SDG Indicator 10.7.1 on recruitment costs incurred by migrant-workers to Tier 1.
- Help build capacity of national statistical agencies to collect recruitment cost data.
- Identify policies and interventions to reduce recruitment costs paid by migrant workers
- Analyze the impact of low-skilled migration on families left behind
- Identify the evolution of demand for migration labor in countries of destination in the short and medium-term
- Examine the brain gain proposition in Highly-skilled Migration (HSM)
Chairs and Focal Point
Migrant Rights and Integration in Host Communities
The critical role of migrant integration policies is often recognized in the migration discourse, such as provision of economic opportunities and social inclusion for migrants and their families. Smooth integration of newcomers into a host society is important not only for migrants themselves but also for host countries, as integration can augment the gains from migration. Despite universal acknowledgment of the importance of international migration and integration, there have been no concerted global efforts by the international community to evaluate existing migrant integration policies, to study their efficacies and/or to formulate best practices.
Migrants often find themselves in a precarious situation for several – sometimes concurring – reasons:
- the absence or limited enforcement of laws specifically protecting them,
- limited enforcement to their specific group of laws of general application,
- being temporary migrant workers,
- being undocumented, either through losing legal status (for a number of reasons) or through never having had status in the first place.
Such migrants rarely complain, protest, contest, organize, unionize, or demonstrate, due to a fear factor resulting from the precariousness of their legal status and social situation. When advocating for their rights, they may risk detection by the authorities (if undocumented) or be identified by their employer (or landlord, or other persons in authority) as a troublemaker, the consequence of which may be detention and deportation.
The main objective of this TWG is to help policy-makers and other stakeholders better gauge migrant rights by generating various measures of integration that are globally comparable, highlighting effective means to enable integration for the mutual benefit of both migrants and host communities and identifying areas and ways to empower migrants in vulnerable or precarious situations.
Areas of Focus
- Construct a global database of integration indicators based on national laws affecting the integration of economic migrants and refugees. The indicators will focus on economic opportunities, access to health and housing, citizenship and anti-discrimination measures.
- Identify ways through which migrants can be empowered to fight precariousness and be protected from abuse and exploitation. Research will be undertaken on the role of labor inspection regimes, access to enforcement of decent labor conditions and on access to justice.
- Examine how States can adopt a whole-of-government migrant integration policy approach, aiming at empowering migrants to defend their rights, just as citizens can, without fear of retribution, including through a non-discriminatory implementation towards migrants of various policies.
Chairs and Focal Point
Remittances and Diaspora Resources
Since its inception, KNOMAD has spearheaded research and advocacy on harnessing remittances and other resources for the development of origin countries. More recently, KNOMAD prepared the background brief for the preparatory sessions of the GCM, and many of the recommendations of the paper are included in the GCM objectives 19 (create conditions for migrants and diasporas to fully contribute to sustainable development in all ocuntries) and objective 20 (Promote faster, safer and cheaper transfer of remittances and foster financial inclusion of migrants).
On remittances, this Thematic Working Group will continue its work on:
- Reducing remittance costs through research analysis and evidence base of the remittance prices, interoperability, opening of markets and new technologies (SDG 10.c.1 reducing remittance costs)
- Inform country and regional strategies on regulations impacting remittances (taxes, AML/CFT) based on data and research. This will serve as inputs for the proposed country-level migration diagnostics
- Examine the use of regulatory sandboxes for reducing the cost of remittances for unserved populations (women, youth, refugees and migrants)
- Convene a dialogue involving financial service providers, governments, international organizations and humanitarian organizations on how law and regulations can be adapted to enable safe and effective development of fintech and remittance channels
The diaspora of developing countries can contribute to development in their countries of origin by increasing trade and investment, providing market information and matching / referral services, improving access to technology, making remittances for health, education and infrastructure projects, supporting philanthropic activities, and providing access to capital markets (such as through diaspora bonds). While some countries have devoted resources to fostering contacts with their diaspora, for many sending countries the diaspora remains a resource that is largely untapped. Policies that could help enhance benefits from the diaspora include providing dual citizenship and voting rights, working with overseas diaspora organizations to improve contacts with origin communities, easing restrictions on foreigners’ economic activities (including land ownership) for diaspora members, and providing information (and perhaps subsidies) to facilitate return.
Going forward this thematic working group will:
- Facilitate the mobilization of remittance and diaspora resources for development efforts including diaspora bonds. A key output could be the production of diaspora profiles of up to 50 countries as a global public good, for use by all stakeholders, especially, for the issuance of diaspora bonds
- Undertake feasibility studies for relevant pilot projects, such as remittance-backed bond financing for SME or infrastructure funding
- Engage local authorities, local communities, the private sector, diasporas, hometown associations and migrant organizations to promote knowledge and skills transfer between their countries of origin and countries of destination, not limiting to mapping the diasporas and their skills, as a means of maintaining and enhancing links between diasporas. This will be done on a demand-basis by national governments
- Engage the diaspora of conflict-affected countries and facilitate knowledge exchange on activities, support to home country, remittances and investment opportunities
- Facilitate the engagement of the diaspora to support entrepreneurship (through venture capital funds, start-ups, incubators, and accelerators in both host and home countries)
Chairs and Focal Point
Environmental change and migration
Climate change can greatly increase international migration by increasing the frequency and intensity of droughts, floods and other natural calamities. Climate change could lead to significant shifts in populations fleeing inhospitable or uninhabitable areas or searching for opportunities where agricultural productivity may be more viable and productive. The Global Compact for Migration (GCM) recognizes environmental changes, environmental conditions and deteriorations as some of the main drivers and structural factors that cause people to seek a livelihood elsewhere through irregular migration or forced displacement. In addition, the Global Compact on Refugees recognizes that climate, environmental degradation and natural disasters increasingly interact with the drivers of refugee movements. One of the main objectives of the GCM is to minimize the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country or community of origin, and natural disasters, the adverse effects of climate change and environmental degradation are among these factors.
KNOMAD’s work on this theme has been of interest to the international community as is evident from the participation in its numerous events, as well as from the requests for support from the Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change. Its analytical agenda expanded the evidence base and the understanding of the vulnerability and resiliency of people to adverse climatic developments. During the first phase of KNOMAD, this thematic working group engaged in a number of activities with the objectives of (i) improving data on research on climate driven migration, integrating mobility patterns into climate change adaptation and resilience planning and migration policy development, understanding policy implications of resilience and vulnerability, and planned relocation in context of natural disasters and climate change. The TWG has published several working papers and policy briefs and organized several workshops that involved policy makers, research institutions,UN agencies and other development partners, civil societies, etc.
The studies sponsored in this area addressed policy issues and institutional arrangements appropriate to the circumstances, as illustrated by its “Guidance on Planned Relocation” which has been widely accepted. The recommendations on climate change contributed to the provisions on climate-related displacement in the Paris Agreements of the UNFCCC in October 2016. The TWG also contributed greatly to the work on climate change and migration in the World Bank, including through its work on the flagship report entitled Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration.
The objective of this TWG under KNOMAD 1.2 is to develop sustainable policies and tools to integrate mobility into adaptation and climate resilience planning to address migration, displacement, and planned relocation due to environmental change.
Areas of Focus
The interconnections between environmental change, resilience and migration are the principal focus. More specifically, this TWG intends to pursue the following activities:
- Improving knowledge and data to better map, understand, predict, and address climate driven migration such as those resulting from sudden-onset and slow-onset natural events, the adverse effects of climate change, or environmental degradation. This includes conducting pilot studies in areas where climate driven migration and conflicts due to natural resource degradation and management have become major concerns.
- Developing adaptation and resilience strategies to sudden-onsets and slow-onset climate events. This includes a) improving and implementing the planned relocation tool kits that were developed in the first phase of KNOMAD;b) integrating mobility considerations into adaptation and climate resilience planning to encourage more effective strategies to be developed to address migration, displacement and planned relocation; c) understanding the role of resilience and vulnerability as determinants of environmentally-induced mobility and as factors affecting the success of adaptation and climate resilience strategies.
- Develop coherent approaches to address climate driven migration in the context of slow-onsets and sudden-onset natural disasters.
Chairs and Focal Point
Internal migration and urbanization
Internal migration is being amplified by a fundamental shift towards urbanization, and in many ways is more important for developing countries than international migration. The scale of internal migration is huge, probably exceeding 700 million people, but robust estimates are as yet unavailable. Dedicated migration surveys could usefully complement household and labor surveys that include questions on migration, disaggregating data by age and gender, focusing on the links between internal and international migration, addressing circular migration, broadening the notion of remittances to include other types of support like food, and informing on the composition of remittances (both internal and international remittances).
The growing impact of migration on destination communities raises important issues about pressure for infrastructure and social services, urban congestion, productivity gains, barriers to mobility that may exist within national borders and difficulties migrants face in accessing public services. Currently, more than 80 percent of Sub-Saharan governments are negatively disposed towards internal migration, and there is a need more broadly to move away from such perceptions towards accepting migration and urbanization. Policymakers and stakeholders need to focus on how best to manage the process, ensuring adequate capacity at various levels of government and engaging employers’ and workers’ organization as well as civil society organizations.
The impact of internal migration on sending communities also needs more research, as it has significant implications for reducing poverty and hunger, as well as the prospects for achieving the other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in sending communities. Specific policies are needed to facilitate the integration of return migrants from other locations within the country or abroad.
Finally, there are important links between internal and international migration.Finally, there are important links between internal and international migration. The movement from rural to urban, rural to rural, rural to urban areas is often a first step towards international migration, because urban dwellers tend to have greater access to information on international migration opportunities, the move often represents a weakening of familial ties that would otherwise tend to inhibit migration, and the higher wages in urban areas can increase the workers’ ability to migrate to other countries. In addition, it is worth distinguishing impacts on women and youth, as well as by skill level. Changes in international work opportunities also affect work and migration patterns locally.
Areas of focus
This Thematic Working Group will undertake the following activities:
- Improving knowledge on the linkage between informality and urbanization in the global South and how vulnerable people negotiate their rights with their local governments to address their vulnerability issues. KNOMAD will conduct studies to better understand integration of the informal economy and existing instruments and resources used in the process.
- Improving knowledge on the linkage between internal and international migration with a focus on internal migration in the global South.
- Synthetizing existing knowledge and generate new knowledge if needed on urban mobility between cities
- Help local governments in exchanging knowledge and expertise for managing internal and international migration
Chairs and Focal Point
Forced Migration and Development
Forced migration understood in the broadest sense is a challenging and complex topic, encompassing different groups of people, fleeing from persecution or conflict, escaping environmental change, natural or human made disasters, migrating because of development projects or being deported or trafficked. Only a sub-set of these persons falls within UNHCR’s mandate, which includes refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons and internally displaced persons (IDPs). Existing approaches based on humanitarian, human rights and security perspectives need to be complemented with a development perspective. This is particularly true in the cases where forces driving migration intermingle with economic factors.
The Thematic Working Group (TWG) will contribute to clarifying the links between forced migration and development, focusing on areas where there are knowledge gaps, including on:
- Interactions between economic and non-economic drivers of migration
- Remittance behaviour of refugees, in particular, personal transfers sent to and from refugees
- Impacts of refugees and IDPs on host communities and host countries
- Economic opportunities (e.g., access to labor markets) and rights (e.g., access to health and education) for refugees and IDPs
- Treatment of refugees and IDPs under the national law of a host country or an origin country, drawing on KNOMAD’s current Migration and the Law project.
Chairs and Focal Point
Return Migration and Reintegration
The voluntary return of migrants to their home country supports economic development and job creation as returnees bring capital and knowledge back with them. Return migration has impacts on knowledge diffusion and innovation in countries of origin. This is further catalyzed if the origin country provides a framework and good conditions for returnees to make use of their skills and investments. On the other hand, large-scale forced returns can have disruptive economic consequences for the destination and origin countries. In destination countries, they can lead to a shortage of workers, loss of productivity and price increases in sectors employing migrants, and overall loss of growth potential and competitiveness in the longer run. Forced expulsion can be administratively costly for destination country governments. Forced returns are also traumatic for the returnees, who may suffer psychological, social, and financial impacts. They also create economic challenges for origin countries. Many host countries offer financial incentives for migrants to return home, but the actual number of returnees tends to be low, and often, returnees migrate again. The effectiveness of return programs depends on the efforts of both destination and origin countries.
This thematic area will explore the basis of policies to improve return and reintegration outcomes by conducting surveys on reintegration experiences and carrying out workshop and round-tables to discuss policies and experiences on reintegration of returnees; analyzing the impact of return in host communities; identify synergies and similarities on the impact of return processes, including the impact of returnee programs in the short, medium and long-term.
Chairs and Focal Point
Data and Demographics
Addressing data gaps and quality issues on migration and remittances remains a continuing challenge. Expanding the scope of data collection, including by generating data disaggregated by gender, age and sub-national region, would greatly improve the evidence base underpinning migration policies. Better data on migrant stocks and the origin of migrants would improve the understanding of North-South and South-South movements, as well as their relative importance in global migration. It is also worth noting that data collection needs to extend beyond national level statistics. Finally, progress will depend on increasing capacity building efforts in data collection.
This thematic area will focus on the following activities:
- Expanding the scope of data collection, by generating data disaggregated by gender, age and sub-national region;
- Preparing forward-looking migration profiles in selected countries or corridors and models to investigate the link between migration and development;
- Measuring migrant stocks and flows;
- Documenting migration patterns, trends, and characteristics of migrants, as well as drivers and impacts of migration.
Chairs and Focal Point
This theme seeks to address migration issues not covered by other Thematic Working Groups as they emerge (gender, migration of children and youth, local governments and migration, security and migration, transit migration and smuggling and human trafficking). Youth, migration and development is an important area of current focus. A common stylized fact on migration posits that people tend to have higher rates of risk-taking behavior and fewer ties in their youth. Thus, youth tend migrate more than other age cohorts. Yet legal pathways into OECD countries are becoming increasingly restricted for youth leading to disenchantment among youth in origin countries and tendencies to use irregular channels. Focusing on such disenchantment has been a central feature of the international agenda on development, since at least the Arab Spring uprisings earlier this decade, and reinforced particularly in Europe following the refugee crisis of 2015.
However, beyond the general knowledge that youth tend to migrate more than other cohorts, there is a gap in the policy research agenda in addressing the ways in which youth migration warrants a specific policy focus, including with a view on development. The thematic area seeks to address this knowledge gap through data and evidence, examination of policies and analysis of trends.