Safe and orderly labour migration helps advance sustainable development and minimize risks to migrants

Welcome remarks at the Launch of the India-EU Cooperation and Dialogue on Migration and Mobility – Phase II by Satoshi Sasaki, OIC/Deputy Director, ILO DWT/CO-New Delhi

Statement | New Delhi, India | 20 October 2023
It is a great pleasure being with you here this afternoon. According to the most recent ILO estimates, there are some 164 million migrant workers worldwide, of whom close to half are women. The ILO estimates that migrant workers constitute some 5% of the global labour force, representing an integral part of the world economy. The Asia and Pacific region ranks first with regard to the origin of international migrants.

International labour migration – migration from one country to another for employment purposes – is a feature of both contemporary labour markets and the future of work. Labour migration can contribute to sustainable development for countries of origin, transit and destination, and provide benefits and opportunities for migrant workers and their families. It may balance labour supply and demand, help develop and transfer skills at all levels, contribute to social protection systems, foster innovation, generate income through remittances and enrich communities.

Aging populations in some regions and corresponding labour market shortages are increasingly seen as an opportunity for skilled labour migration. In the competition for global talent, highly skilled workers are sought after and generally face fewer challenges to access decent work and rights protection. The G20 New Delhi Leader’s Declaration recognizes “that well-integrated and adequately skilled workers benefit origin and destination countries alike and commit[s] to working towards ensuring well-managed, regular and skills-based migration pathways”. Migration can also become a climate resilience and adaptation strategy.

Without proper governance frameworks, however, labour migration is also associated with challenged and risks such as informality, brain drain, displacement, safety and health hazards or abusive practices. Irregular labour migration increases migrant workers’ vulnerability to exploitation and it can undercut established wages and working conditions.

The India-EU Common Agenda for Migration and Mobility Project provides a framework for cooperation on joint objectives, recommendations and actions. From 2017 to 2022, ILO and ICMPD, in collaboration with the India Centre for Migration, implemented the EU-India Cooperation and Dialogue on Migration and Mobility Project, which led to the development of practical tools, increased stakeholder awareness, and enhanced institutional capacity. Among others, the project facilitated the development of a pre-departure handbook for Indians going to the EU; checklists for students going to Europe or India; and studies on the admission and growth of start-ups or the economic contribution of migrants. The fact that a second phase of the project is being launched here today speaks to continued relevance of the CAMM as well as to the results achieved under the previous phase of the project. Going forward, ILO and ICMPD, together with the Indian Council of World Affairs, will continue to support the India-EU Cooperation and Dialogue on Migration and Mobility with a particular focus on strengthening regular migration while addressing associated challenges and risks.

The ILO looks forward to close collaboration with the Government of India, the European Union, EU Member States, and other relevant stakeholders including worker’s and employers’ organizations, the private sector, academia and migrants themselves in advancing Cooperation and Dialogue on Migration and Mobility. The successful implementation of this project will help to maximize the benefits of labour migration while minimizing its risks and social costs.

In closing, I would like to express my appreciation to the Ministry of External Affairs, the European Union, ICMPD and ICWA for the constructive collaboration. Thank you very much for your attention.