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Migration is a phenomenon that should be conceived within the framework of sustainable development, from the 2030 Agenda to the Global Compact on Migration. In this regard, the European Migration Network (is a European network of migration and asylum experts working together to provide objective and comparable information and knowledge on emerging asylum and migration issues in Europe)  has deepened the topic with reference to the European migration policy, trying to articulate the concept of “sustainable migration”. In this background document n.11 (here the download), we report and comment for discussion, the main conclusions emerged from the round table on “Sustainable Migration from Africa to Europe”.

In line with the 2030 Agenda, which shows that the migration phenomenon can be understood only if it is related to the different social, economic and environmental dimensions, the roundtable of the European Migration Network explored the meaning of “sustainable migration”.

The concept of “whole of route” has been addressed, based on a triple win approach: it is about recognizing the importance of the whole migration route so that all three parties benefit: countries of origin, destination countries and migrants themselves, stressing that “sustainable migration” offers policy makers the opportunity to better govern migration, so that it can be beneficial for both countries of origin and destination countries.

According to this approach, a number of sustainable development goals are to be linked together in a transversal manner, of which we can cite at least 5: the first related to the fight against poverty (particularly in countries of origin), the eighth on decent work (to safeguard the rights of migrant workers in destination countries), the tenth on inequality (between countries of origin and destination, and for regular and safe channels for migration), the eleventh on inclusive and sustainable cities (with reference to the integration of migrants in destination cities), and the sixteenth on just institutions (for the defense of the rights of migrants throughout their migration journey).

Risks and benefits regarding the current Africa-Europe migration system have been outlined. Among the former are the “brain drain” (migration of highly-skilled labor) and consequent brain waste (the low-skill jobs to which many immigrants with high levels of education and specialization are forced), irregular migration, and the emergence of erroneous perceptions about migrants, emphasized by the media and exploited for political purposes, which create tension, concern and fear. On the other hand, among the benefits, it is stressed that circular migration allows Europe to benefit from skilled and unskilled workers, and Africa to take advantage of economic benefits from remittances, thus creating mutually beneficial migration.

Lastly, it stresses the close connection that should exist between protection of individual rights and sustainable development, which is possible only through the creation of a decent social and economic environment for migrants in countries of destination, in which settled communities and local populations can prosper, and with recognition and professionalization of the role of diasporas as agents of development in the country of origin, through the study of investment tools that enhance the financial impact of remittances.

The concept of sustainable migration seeks to take into account and balance the interests of the different actors involved, particularly migrants and destination communities, in order to make the impact sustainable, taking into account with the same level of importance all the factors that characterize the current and future development of the countries of departure and arrival.