Developing countries should set up strategies to reverse their "brain drain" - losing highly skilled citizens to jobs in more affluent, developed countries - and turn it to their own economic advantage, population and migration experts said today at United Nations Headquarters.
As the UN Commission on Population and Development meets in New York, experts attending the session said that developing countries need to act fast as many will soon be requiring foreign labour because so many of their own citizens have left for other States.
Brunson McKinley, Director-General of the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that in developing countries, it is usually "the best educated, the most dynamic" portion of its citizenry that migrate to work in wealthier nations.
Mr. McKinley said population experts and organizations such as IOM are helping many poor countries to turn their brain drain into a "brain gain."
He said States need to encourage citizens who have left to return to start their own businesses or professional practices, or by investing their wealth to create jobs in their homeland. Skilled migrant workers also have contacts in developed countries that can be tapped into to benefit the home country, Mr. McKinley added.
He said another major debate in the population community is whether people move to jobs or jobs move to people - spotlighting the issue of outsourcing, or transferring a company's jobs to a country with lower labour costs.
Riad Tabbarah, Director of the Centre for Development Studies and Projects in Beirut, said the migrant population in the North is increasingly highly skilled, particularly in technology industries, compared to the prototype of the poor migrant leaving a country to better themselves and their families.
Joseph Chamie, Director of the UN Population Division, said the biggest population issue for developing countries remains mortality, followed by rapid population growth. In developed nations, the major worries are low fertility rates and declining populations.
In another development, the Population Division today released its new estimates and projections of urban and rural populations for major areas, regions and countries of the world, large urban agglomerations and capital cities. The results, depicted in two wall charts, Urban and Rural Areas 2003, and Urban Agglomerations 2003, show that globally, some 3 billion people lived in cities in 2003, but that figure is expected to rise to 5 billion by 2030.