What are the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG’s)?

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a UN plan of action for the planet, its people and for general prosperity, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015. Its core aim is to eradicate poverty, through 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which in turn are associated to 169 specific targets.


The 17 goals are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing – to form a global partnership to end world poverty. Key to the UNSDG’s is that they propose a global, intersectional approach to end poverty, meaning that they focus not only on immediate relief but also on longer-term strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all in a sustainable and resilient manner.


The 17 goals range from an end to world hunger to gender equality, from quality education to clean water and sanitation, from economic growth to responsible consumption.

What impact do they have on Migration?

Development and migration are intricately linked. On the one hand, migrants have an impact on economic development worldwide. Migrants represent approximately 3 per cent of the world’s population, but they produce more than 9 per cent of global GDP, some USD 3 trillion more than if they had stayed at home.


On the other hand, migration is also affected by development. The circumstances under which people live and the decisions they make as to where to move is driven by developmental factors.


The key defining characteristic of the goals is their universality. This is especially relevant for migration, as migration is a key aspect of our increasingly interconnected world, a global phenomenon which impacts the lives of most people be it through family ties, economic exchanges or cultural connections. The universality of the SDGs envision a future where that universal phenomenon is met with a universal response, promoting international collaboration on the issue.

What does this all mean?

The 17 SDGs set ambitious goals which are highly interlinked and interdependent. Migration is only one lens through which we can analyse these goals. Looking at these goals through the lens of migration, we see a circular pattern, from the contribution that migration and migrants make to broader development, to the development issues that influence migration patterns and flows.


A key take-away is that migration is not a development “problem” or “crisis” to be solved, but a mechanism which can help realizing these goals. The focus should shift from the management of migrants to their human development so that they can fulfil their potential and thus help fulfil all the UN Sustainable Development Goals either in their home country or abroad.

Below you find some example of how each SDG is related to migration. The examples were mostly taken from IOM's"Migration and the 2030 Agenda: A Guide for Practitioners". 

Other interesting publications regarding this topic are:

The content of this section was produced by Charlotte Rubin.

The views in this section represent those of the authour and not necessarily those of the Network.