In today’s globalised world, migration shapes the social, economic and cultural realities of millions of people worldwide.
Migration is one of the oldest and most effective strategies to escape poverty. It is also a key ingredient for boosting economic growth and increasing the wealth of nations.
Migrants – by bringing with them new ideas, unique knowhow and specific skills, as well as a sense of entrepreneurship – often make a substantial socioeconomic and cultural contribution to their places of destination. Not surprisingly, some of the most innovative and successful entrepreneurs have a migration background. Prominent Swiss examples are Henri Nestlé, Julius Maggi, or Carl Heinrich Knorr. In fact, around one fifth of Switzerland’s 50 largest companies were established by entrepreneurs of foreign origin. Numerous Swiss women with a migration background are active in the startup scene and others such as Martina Hingis, Sibel Arslan and Melinda Nadj Abonji are key figures in Switzerland’s cultural, social and political life. Migrants can also have a significant positive impact on their communities and countries of origin, most notably by sending remittances to their families back home. Official remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries equal three-and-a half times the amount of all official development assistance provided by the Global North to the Global South. Channelling remittances into investments in education, nutrition, health or the local private sector is indispensable for mobilising additional financial resources to realise the Sustainable Development Goals.
Migration also bears risks and challenges that may jeopardise the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Unsafe, irregular migration and forced displacement entail considerable human costs. People on the move often find themselves exposed to exploitation, abuse and discrimination. In recent years, persecution, conflict, violence and natural disasters have led to a sharp increase in forced displacement and put significant pressure on host governments and communities. This is especially true for low- and middle-income countries, where the overwhelming majority of forcibly displaced persons have found refuge. Switzerland makes efforts to deal with the root causes as well as the consequences of forced displacement and irregular migration through the strategic link between international cooperation and migration policy.
Switzerland was one of the first countries to address the issue of migration and development. Thus, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation established the Global Programme Migration and Development in 2011. The programme has piloted several innovative projects aiming to leverage migration for sustainable development, and has spearheaded several global initiatives on migration and development. The programme’s initial focus was on labour migration, but in order to respond to evolving trends and needs, over time its fields of action were extended to other types of migration, such as long-term displacement and the creation of durable solutions for forcibly displaced persons. Within the framework of the SDC’s reorganisation efforts in 2021, the programme was therefore renamed the Global Programme Migration and Forced Displacement (GPMFD).
Based on a comprehensive approach that encompasses all forms of human mobility, the GPMFD ensures a coherent engagement on migration within the SDC and together with its partners in the Federal Administration. It allows consistent implementation of the humanitarian-development-peace nexus in line with Switzerland’s foreign migration policy. The present GPMFD Programme Framework 2022–25 represents the strategic orientation of the SDC’s engagement on migration. It focuses on the following three components: (i) safe labour migration, (ii) inclusion and social cohesion for migrants and their host communities, and (iii) migrants’ contribution to the sustainable development of their countries of origin.
I am convinced that the reconfigured GPMFD provides a meaningful and lasting contribution to unlocking the development potential of human mobility, while minimising the global challenges linked to migration.
Director General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Bern, November 2021