By Jason Gagnon, PGD1 coordinator, OECD Development Centre
Migration is the talk of the moment. Last week, I participated in the 11th GFMD2 Summit and the Intergovernmental Conference on the GCM3, where experts debated migration’s place in today’s global context. The outcome: 163 member countries of the United Nations pledged their support for a ground breaking document establishing migration – and migrants – as a vehicle for good.
Amongst the many debates, much talk was on South-South migration (SSM) and on the future particularly of Africa in this regard. But why this focus? Most studies on SSM fail to clarify what is different about SSM and why we should pay attention to it. Arguments are good for why SSM may be similar or different to what we’ve come to expect from previously studied migration corridors. But there are also many misconceptions on SSM – particularly in Africa. So what do we know?
Most of this misconceived perception lies in how we measure stocks, which currently tells us that more migrants born in the South live elsewhere in the South (than in the North): 53% to be exact in Africa. And the numbers are indeed much higher when we dig more locally: 71% in sub-Saharan Africa. Dig down deeper and the rate increases even more: up to 79% in Middle Africa.
What’s the path to sustainable development? In this era of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — when all countries face both new challenges and new opportunities for improving the lives of their citizens in inclusive, holistic and environmentally sustainable ways – the question remains as relevant as ever.
Some may think the question was answered in the 2000s when we witnessed the transformation of the global economic geography. Whereas only 12 developing countries in the 1990s managed to double the OECD per-capita growth rates, 83 developing countries managed to do so a decade later. By 2008, developing and emerging economies made up 50% of the global economy for the first time. And the 15-fold surge in South-South trade linkages from 1990 to 2016 and the jump in development finance from USD 3.2 billion in 2003 go USD 15.6 billion in 2012 provided by large emerging economies, notably China, are clear proof points of this new economic geography.
Yet, this upswing in global economic growth masks two underlying issues that we cannot ignore on the road to sustainable development.