Migration Development-oriented migration: putting the focus on people

Regular migration plays an important role in sustainable development. It presents opportunities for the individuals themselves, but also for their countries of origin and for host countries. The German Development Ministry (BMZ) is therefore committed to making migration work for development through a partnership-based approach and to highlighting the potential offered by migration.

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Today, more than 281 million people live in a country other than the one in which they were born. Around half of them have stayed in their home region.

There are many reasons why people decide voluntarily to leave their home country. These include the desire to work or study abroad, or to earn a better living. There are often many factors involved in someone’s personal decision to migrate. People frequently want to find work in places where other family members already live, for example.

Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development
Migration can make an important contribution to sustainable development if we give direction to it in a joint effort with our partner countries. The German government will further increase its support for the immigration of skilled labour and trainees to Germany. And the BMZ will make sure that its partner countries will benefit from that. Because safe, orderly and regular migration benefits everyone.
German Development Minister Svenja Schulze in a statement at the 25th International Metropolis Conference

Different forms of migration

The UNHCR camp for Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan Autonomous Region in Iraq, photo taken in 2014.

Migration can either be regular – which means that it conforms to the national and international legal stipulations of the country of origin, transit countries and destination country – or it can be irregular, taking place outside such legislative frameworks. Irregular migration routes expose migrants to dangers such as human rights violations, abuse, violence (including sexualised and gender-based violence), exploitation, detention and discrimination.

In addition to long-term cross-border migration, forms of migration such as temporary migration and internal migration within countries are also becoming an increasing focus of the international debate.


Regular migration contributes to prosperity, innovation and sustainable development. It has a positive impact on international trade, for example. Studies show that more migration leads to more trade between countries of origin and destination countries.

Furthermore, migration by skilled workers has a positive impact on research and innovation, and thus on economic productivity. For example, migration by highly qualified workers has been proven to lead to an increase in patent applications.

Moreover, many migrants regularly send money to their countries of origin, which in turn helps to improve the living conditions there. This money also helps to protect households during times of crisis, such as food insecurity, illness, unemployment or natural disasters. The World Bank estimates that a total of 626 billion US dollars was remitted to low- and middle-income countries in 2022.

German activities Making migration work for development – and making the most of its potential

Germany’s development cooperation pursues a migration policy that aims to enable safe, regular and orderly migration that benefits everyone. To this end, it forms comprehensive partnerships that cover all aspects of migration: the promotion of legal migration routes, the reduction of irregular migration, the return of people without residence permits and their effective reintegration into the society and economy of their home country.

Germany’s work in this area focuses on making better use of the potential offered by migration. This includes migration for the purposes of work or education, regional mobility, and the creation of job and income opportunities in partner countries. Collaborating with people with a migration background living in Germany is also part of the BMZ’s work.

Taking account of global developments and boosting participation

Migration is a global phenomenon that needs to be addressed in close cooperation with European and multilateral players. The BMZ is working to implement the development goals of the 2030 Agenda and the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) through joint initiatives and at international fora.

The effects of climate change and the consequent deterioration of living conditions are playing an increasing role in decisions around migration. The BMZ is committed to finding solutions for people who are migrating as a result of climate change. They too need safe, regular and orderly routes.

As part of its feminist development policy, the BMZ is also advocating for equal rights, more resources and better opportunities for political participation for migrants of all genders. In addition, widening the perspective on migration will increase awareness of how multiple forms of discrimination can overlap. The BMZ’s goal is to shape migration policy in such a way that it actively contributes to gender equality and the independence and empowerment of migrants of all genders.

Priority areas of German activities

Village in the Somali region of Ethiopia where nomads have settled because of the ongoing drought
Symbolic image: Migration and gender
Flags outside the United Nations in New York
Three women using a smartphone 

As at: 11/07/2023