18 December 2017: The Global Migration Group (GMG) launched a handbook that provides guidance to producers and users of international migration data, aiming to contribute to the monitoring of the SDGs. Launched on International Migrants Day, the handbook is designed to help develop country-level capacity in the production and use of migration data for development, especially in developing countries.

The publication titled, ‘Handbook for Improving the Production and Use of Migration Data for Development,’ was launched on 18 December 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. The launch event was co-organized by the GMG, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the World Bank.

The handbook was developed within the framework of the World Bank’s Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) initiative, with contributions from 16 members of the GMG. The handbook summarizes existing standards and definitions for the collection and dissemination of migration statistics, and takes an inventory of the availability of data. It showcases the main international data sets on international migrants and international migration, indicates how they can be used for policy making, and provides examples of good practices for the collection of migration data and their use in policy making. The publication also assesses progress in implementing global standards and guidelines on migration statistics, and identifies the remaining gaps and challenges.

The handbook’s recommendations for policy makers include:

  • Use data on detected cases of trafficking for trend analysis at the national, regional, and global levels;
  • Use innovative methodologies to assess the hidden part of trafficking in persons;
  • Support national capacities to produce data on trafficking in persons;
  • Use existing international and national surveys for analysis;
  • Take advantage of existing data collection vehicles, especially in industrialized countries;
  • Encourage collection and analysis of data in micro-level settings and do not rely on current estimates;
  • Carefully define indicators for trafficking with common characteristics to allow for the development of common measures that reflect all international legal frameworks; and
  • Establish a global “test bank” to host various examples of trafficking instruments together with their supporting documents and validation studies.

Among GMG members’ contributions to the handbook, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) examines the role of migration in trade; the International Organization for Migration (IOM) analyzes labor migration; the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) addresses educational migration; and the World Health Organization (WHO) looks at the health dimension of migration, as noted by Christina McElwaine, UN University (UNU) Office at the UN, during the launch event.

Sonia Plaza, KNOMAD, called for a methodology to map diaspora, in order to harness its potential for development.

Also at the launch event, Bela Hovy, DESA, highlighted the importance of unofficial sources of information, and stressed the need to disaggregate data by migratory status when tracking SDG implementation. Sonia Plaza, KNOMAD, via videoconference, suggested that countries with aging populations should think ahead, given the expected increase in migration pressure, and create jobs and policies to welcome migrants. She also noted the lack of a conceptual framework for diaspora, and called for developing a methodology for mapping it in order to harness its potential for development.

Susanne Melde, Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC), IOM, highlighted the handbook’s suggestion of indicators on the links between migration, the environment, climate change and disasters, including with regard to resilience and recovery. Recommendations in this regard include: linking census data with climatic information to identify environmental and climate hotspots in areas of high population density; adding an environment component to existing population and migration surveys, such as censuses and living standards measurement and housing surveys; and using innovative means of data collection, such as unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs), to produce images of settlements affected by disasters. She also announced the launch of the Migration Data Portal on 15 December 2017.

In the ensuing discussion, participants raised issues including the weakness of data on birth registration for migration measurement, data on rural migrants, and ways to quantify the effects of xenophobia on social integration. [Publication: Handbook for Improving the Production and Use of Migration Data for Development] [Event Website] [Migration Data Portal]