Migration and development are highly interdependent processes. International migration in the development context relates both to people who have chosen to move of their own accord, and forced migrants who can ultimately end up contributing to both their country of resettlement and possibly their country of origin if it is ever safe to return. Development, meanwhile, is a dynamic process implying growth, advancement, empowerment and progress, with the goal of increasing human capabilities, enlarging the scope of human choices, and creating a safe and secure environment where citizens can live with dignity and equality. In the development process, it is important that people’s productivity, creativity and choices are broadened, and that opportunities are created. Maximizing the positive relationship between migration and development has long been a focus of IOM’s work. It is especially relevant now, in this era of unprecedented mobility.

xIOM’s Vision

The objective of IOM’s migration and development programme is to contribute to a better understanding of the links between international migration and development in order to harness the development potential of migration for the benefit of both societies and migrants and to contribute to sustainable development and poverty reduction.


n order to carry out its vision, IOM implements programmes in the form of research, capacity building for governments and communities, community stabilization in countries that have undergone conflict, delivery of social programmes, community development, engaging diaspora communities with their countries of origin, and partnership building with relevant institutions, authorities and business. IOM also provides a full range of services, tailored to the needs of governments, aimed at transferring skills and knowledge acquired by migrants abroad to their country of origin. These services include outreach, selection, matching, placement, compensation, reintegration, monitoring, and evaluation activities. Recent programme focus has been placed on the facilitation of remittances—the private financial transfers of migrants—and the development impact that they can have on communities and countries of origin.


Beneficiaries of IOM’s migration and development programming include potential and returning migrants and their families, diaspora communities, local, regional, and national governments, and the private sector.


IOM’s approach addresses the root causes of migration by providing interventions in areas vulnerable to high rates of economically motivated migration. In regions that have been recently affected by armed conflict, the Organization works to provide return-friendly environments for displaced persons, to create employment through income-generating activities and to harness the resources of the diaspora for socio-economic development. Recognizing that nearly half of the world’s migrants are now women, IOM also takes into account the opportunities and challenges that this presents for migration and development activities, and presents a gender-specific focus for all remittance projects.

Featured Projects

The Joint Migration and Development Initiative

The European Commission-United Nations Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI) is an innovative inter-agency programme, implemented by UN Development Programme in Brussels in partnership with the EU, and four agencies – IOM, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Population Fund and the International Labour Organization. All partners are directly engaged in the management and direction of the programme and contribute through their institutional knowledge, expertise and extensive networks to ensure its success. The overall objective of the JMDI is to support civil society organizations and local authorities in countries of origin, transit and destination in linking migration and development. In so doing, the JMDI 1) sets up and reinforces networks of actors working on migration and development; 2) identifies good practices in this field and shares information on what actually works at the local and international level; and 3) feeds into the policy-making process on migration and development.

Remittances to Benin – Research on the Socio-economic Impact of Financial Resources of Migrants

Migrant remittances represent an important source of income for Benin. While there is consensus on the potential that these remittances represent, the lack of reliable data hampers the development of policies aiming to enhance the positive impacts of remittances on the social and economic development of the country. With the financial support of IOM’s International Development Fund, this research project gathers information on the way remittances are used by receiving households and identifies strategies to strengthen the impact of remittances. The results of the study will be published in 2012

Migration for Development of the Western Balkans (MIDWEB) – Promoting Labour Mobility for the Benefit of All

The MIDWEB project disseminates information about legal channels for migration among potential labour migrants, and provides opportunities for the return of skills and human capital for the development of the Western Balkans. The project offers temporary placement opportunities for 60 qualified professionals who originate from the Western Balkans and who live permanently in Austria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK. The selected participants can return to their countries of origin for a determined period of time to share their skills and expertise, and to contribute to the development of their country of origin. The project has organized a regional training course to build the capacity of Migrant Resource Centres (MRC) counsellors in Western Balkan countries to provide efficient, up-to-date and relevant information to potential migrants, , including through the delivery of pre-departure orientation sessions. A regional conference was also held in Budapest to discuss challenges and obstacles to the return of skilled migrants to the region and to identify strategies for utilizing the diaspora in regional socio-economic development. The project is managed by IOM in partnership with the Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI), the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees in Germany and the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW), and is funded by the European Commission.