Putting a spotlight on the role of migrant remittances in achieving the SDGs

In 2016, international migrants from low- and middle-income countries sent home an estimated $445 billion in remittances, according to the recently published report Sending Money Home.

The 2017 Global Forum on Remittances, Investment and Development (GFRID), which was held in New York on 15 and 16 June 2017, brought together representatives from government, civil society, the United Nations, the private sector and academia, offering a unique opportunity to highlight the role of migrant remittances and diaspora investment in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

During the Private Sector Day, on 15 June, representatives of private banks and money transfer operators and financial regulators discussed how new technologies could make the transfer of remittances cheaper, faster and safer. Technological innovations could play an important role in improving financial inclusion of international migrants and members of their families. Obstacles to non-bank remittance service providers accessing payment system infrastructure, put in place to combat money-laundering and terrorist financing, were also discussed.

During the celebration of the third International Day of Family Remittances, on 16 June, participants recognized the efforts and sacrifices made by migrants and their families in order to improve the health and education of their families. Concrete examples of how migrant remittances and diaspora investments were reducing poverty (SDG 1) and hunger (SDG 2), promoting access to health (SDG 3) and education (SDG 4) and empowering women (SDG 5) were presented.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration, Ms. Louise Arbour, highlighted the Forum’s timeliness and relevance in providing concrete, actionable input for the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, currently under preparation by the General Assembly. She stressed the crucial importance of facts and figures for documenting the positive impact of migrant remittances and diaspora investment and for countering xenophobia and anti-foreigner rhetoric.

The Forum was organized by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) with the support of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the World Bank. Both the Financing for Development Office and the Population Division of UN DESA participated in the event.

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