Migration and Urbanization
The 2003 UNFPA global survey found that 73 per cent of
developing countries responding (110 out of 151) reported
having taken some action to deal with international
migration, compared to 18 per cent in a similar inquiry
in 1994. Nearly half of the countries had adopted programmes
or strategies on international migrants or
refugees; 37 per cent had enacted legislation on international
migrants and migrant workers; 33 per cent
had adopted a migration policy; 11 per cent had undertaken
efforts to enforce international conventions on
refugees, asylum-seekers and illegal migrants; and 10 per cent had passed laws on the trafficking of humans,
especially women and children.
A growing number of countries have established
coordination mechanisms of various types—across
government agencies, between governments, and
among governments, NGOs and international donors.
Policies in some African countries, like Ghana and
the United Republic of Tanzania, emphasized settling
refugees. In Latin American and Caribbean countries,
the focus was on providing incentives for returning
nationals, while the emphasis in Eastern Europe, the
Arab States and Central Asian Republics was on protecting
labour markets and combating drug trafficking.
To better integrate immigrants into their society, a
few countries have adopted measures promoting equal
opportunity in access to jobs, housing, health and
education. Some developed countries have changed
their family reunification policies in the past decade.
Since July 2002, for instance, Denmark no longer
offers a statutory right to reunification with a spouse,
and in most cases does not grant reunification if one
of the spouses is younger than 24. New Zealand recognizes
a wider range of family structures than it used
to, but has also strengthened the legal responsibility
of sponsors for the family members they bring into
the country. Canada’s policy, on the other hand, has become less restrictive, now including dependent
children under 22 instead of 19.
A number of developed countries have introduced
initiatives encouraging the immigration of skilled
workers in response to labour shortages. Some have
adopted policies aimed at attracting and retaining
highly skilled students from developing countries.
To counter the growing trafficking of human
beings, countries have tightened border controls and
made asylum policies more restrictive; in some cases
this has inadvertently made trafficking more profitable.
In response, some countries have introduced
severe penalties for human trafficking.
Although most receiving countries recognize the
positive contributions of migration to the economic,
social and cultural development of both migrantreceiving
and migrant-sending countries, the growing
levels of illegal immigration and the continuing
flows of refugees and asylum-seekers remain major
Many countries favour more international cooperation
to manage migration more effectively. Since
1994, eight regional and subregional consultation
processes have been set up, covering nearly every
country. The International Migration Policy
Programme begun in 1998 has organized 15 regional
meetings to promote cooperation and capacity
building. And a Global Commission on International
Migration was launched in December 2003; it is
scheduled to issue recommendations to the UN
Secretary-General in mid-2005.
MAPPING PEOPLE AND THEIR NEEDS
Information systems developed in the past decade provide precise geographic information about people responding to
demographic surveys. This will allow more detailed examination of the distribution of
wealth, opportunities and challenges within countries, and better understanding of
the push and pull factors driving population relocation and the impact of policies
For example, recent research combines census and survey data to map the distribution of populations. The results suggest
the land area covered by urban centres and their peri-urban settlements—and their
impact on the environment—may be much greater than earlier estimates based on
administrative boundaries. The new methods also allow measurement of populations
along coasts and in other ecologically sensitive regions.
This mapping has been used to study infant mortality in 10 West African countries. The results reaffirmed long-established findings (e.g., higher male mortality, urban
advantage over rural areas, and the protective effects of mothers’ education and
improved sanitation), but also provided unexpected new insights into the high
concentration of the poorest performing areas, which could lead to better targeting
Significant investments in capacity building and technology transfer will be
required to take full advantage of new data collection technologies and analysis
methodologies. More-detailed analyses of urban social networks and the characteristics
of neighbourhoods also need to be incorporated into developing country
research and programming.
This could facilitate more local development
decision-making, and lead to better policies addressing the variety of settlement
patterns with the aim of reducing poverty and improving the quality of life.
For instance, mixed income communities may offer avenues for quicker advancement
of the poor. Geographic targeting and use of local associations may help realize
the ICPD vision of social participation. See Sources