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Including Migrants and Communities in Socio-economic Recovery: Experiences from the UNDP-IOM Partnership

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In October 2020, the Principals of International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) agreed on priorities for a reinforced partnership between the two agencies at country, regional and global levels. Among the first steps in translating the commitment into practice, both agencies launched a joint seed funding initiative in December 2020, preceded by a call for proposals, to support the work of Country Offices in addressing the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on migrants and communities in nine countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America (Bangladesh, Belarus, El Salvador, Guinea, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, the Republic of Moldova and Peru). This report is intended to provide a general overview of the initiatives, lessons learned and recommended action points to chart the way ahead to strengthen and amplify the IOM-UNDP collaboration. Working closely as One UN is essential to “build back better” from the pandemic. This seed funding initiative has proven that by working hand-in-hand, we can create more unified, equal and sustainable communities in the wake of COVID-19 on our path towards longerterm socio-economic recovery in line with national and local plans and strategies.

The pandemic has had immediate and potentially long-term impacts on the attainment of many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with some outlining the risk of a “lost decade for development”.1 The severe impacts on mobility dynamics, including restrictions on movement, stranded migrants and increased returns, reinforced the socio-economic impact and exposed many migrants and their families to new vulnerabilities, often affecting women especially severely. Migrants play a significant role not only during COVID-19 as key workers, but also beyond by bringing their skills, experience and innovative perspectives to our development efforts. Our ability to develop responses that mitigate the negative impacts of the pandemic, protect people on the move and their families and harness the positive power of migration for recovering better – as called for in the UN Framework for responding to the socio-economic impact of COVID-192 – depends on a good understanding of the effects of the pandemic on human mobility and development.3 It is therefore essential to identify solutions that enable migrants to efficiently and concretely contribute to socioeconomic responses alongside local populations, enabling them to act as agents of change and development. It is important that our global efforts towards sustainable development are turned into context-specific actions in support of national and local authorities, leveraging complementary contributions of partners.

This report includes an analysis of key findings for ensuring success and sustained impact through this joint UN partnership. It also outlines a suggested path forward for integrated approaches to migration, COVID-19 and sustainable development that rests on collaboration between the UN, local and national governments, civil society organizations, diaspora and migrant associations and so many more essential partners. The general section of the report is complemented by two-page fact sheets of each of the nine projects, including key findings and opportunities for future collaboration. The report is intended to serve as a quick glance at what can be achieved when we work together to empower migrants to build strong, safe, resilient communities that can withstand challenges, such as the current pandemic.

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