Civil Society “Stockholm Agenda” Calls for Inclusion of Migrants and Migration in the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals

As the post-2015 United Nations (UN) development agenda setting process advances, global civil society is continuing its advocacy for the incorporation of migration as a critical factor for sustainable development. On June 19, 2014 a civil society agenda on the inclusion of migrants and migration in the post-2015 development framework was launched by the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) in partnership with civil society networks Global Coalition on Migration, NGO Committee on Migration New York, and MADE, with the endorsement of over 100 additional organizations.

The document, titled the “Stockholm Agenda on Migration and Migration-Related Goals and Targets,” proposes a framework which links migrants and migration to human and economic development goals. It includes migration-specific targets under eight goals which are similar to the current Millennial Development Goals (MDGs) and which constitute focus areas of the Open Working Group (OWG) tasked with developing a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for consideration by the UN General Assembly. The Stockholm Agenda advocates for ensuring that all migrants enjoy decent working conditions, social protection, access to education and healthcare; decreasing remittance transfer costs; and reducing risks to migrants on the move. It provides for the full participation of migrants and diaspora as partners in development planning.

In addition, the Agenda offers specific migration targets under a stand-alone goal for multi-actor global and national collaboration to “enlarge human security and human development benefits of migration.” These targets aim to reduce inefficiencies and barriers that impede positive migration-related development impacts.

The Stockholm Agenda builds upon the growing convergence among governments, international organizations and civil society on the integration of migrants and migration into the development agenda. At the UN High Level Dialogue (HLD) on International Migration and Development in October of 2013, Member States unanimously adopted a declaration which “acknowledge[s] the important contribution of migration in realizing the Millennium Development Goals, and recognize[s] that human mobility is a key factor for sustainable development which should be adequately considered in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda.” This position was further supported by the remarks of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and more than 60 countries in their interventions at the plenary meetings. At the HLD, global civil society proposed collaboration with UN member states for the next five years on an eight point action plan that prioritizes the integration of migration into the post-2015 development agenda as linked to UN development concerns regarding poverty, health, gender equality, financing for development and sustainable development.

The Stockholm Agenda originated from the discussions of the Migration and Development Push Group which sought to craft a civil society vision for migration as part of the post-2015 development framework. Convened in November 2013 by the ICMC, the Push Group involved members of the migration group of the Forum of Catholic-inspired NGOs, the NGO Committee on Migration, and Catholic development agencies. The Center for Migration Studies of New York and the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN) participated in the process of elaborating a set of distinctly migration-related goals, targets and indicators applicable to the post-2015 SDGs and national development agendas. The Push Group process consolidated recommendations by civil society groups at the meetings of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) since 2011, the People’s Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights (PGA), and the World Social Forum on Migration. The agenda received input and consultation from more than 40 human rights and development NGOs, trade unions, migrant and diaspora associations, academics, regional and international networks, as well as governments and the office of UN Special Representative for International Migration Peter Sutherland. In May 2014, the work was presented to hundreds of civil society organizations at the meetings of the 7th GFMD and the PGA in Stockholm, Sweden, who engaged in over 20 hours of discussion in order to reflect wide concurrence by civil society.

The OWG is now entering its final phase of deliberations on a framework for sustainable development goals and targets that will be considered by the General Assembly in September, 2014. Having engaged in broad consultation with UN agencies since commencing the process in March of 2013, the OWG will hold its concluding session in New York on July 14-18, 2014 which will focus on finalizing the goals and targets elaborated in its Zero Draft released on June 30, 2014. In its current iteration, the document includes one reference to migration under a proposed goal to reduce inequality within and between states by “facilitat[ing] orderly, safe, and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through implementation of planned and managed migration policies.”

Over the next months, the UN Secretary General will begin to prepare a synthesis report to Member States on the post-2015 development agenda, and governments are also preparing for “hard” government-to-government negotiations. Migration is relevant to a number of sustainable development issues likely to appear on the post-2015 agenda, however its inclusion is not guaranteed and necessitates the strong backing of civil society and governments. The Stockholm agenda will be presented to UN Member States following sign-on by additional civil society groups by July 4.

The ICMC invites global civil society to sign on to the Stockholm Agenda.