Migration and UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030

Migration is affecting those people who move but also the societies they leave, arrive and transit. Also, it affects both population and planetary health and should be taken into account while planning, implementing, and evaluating actions for sustainable development.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is a major and relatively new framework with 17 wider goals which are measured by 169 targets and indicators. Since it has a broad political acceptance in different countries of the world it can be used as a framework for policy-making for sustainable development.

Since SDG are broad topics there is not an unanimous consensus on which of those 17 SDGs are specifically related to migration. Here are some SDGs to be considered: Decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), Reduced inequalities (SDG 10), Sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), Climate action (SDG 13), Peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16), Partnerships for the goals (SDG 17). Under these SDGs are the targets and indicators related to migration. Some of the targets are directly and explicitly linked to migration. Some others may be linked, but the relationship may be implicit.

When it comes to reducing poverty, migration has had a major effect on both the migrants, but also their families, and their wider communities. It can be considered that some areas are of the world are overpopulated which may cause environmental problems related to pollution, clean water, and so on. While some people are emigrating from overpopulated areas to less populated this alleviates the environmental strain on the country of origin.

While considering migration as a phenomenon and its effect on people and countries then these SDGs could be focused further to alleviate potential sustainability and other problems caused by migration. Migration affects both countries of origin and new host countries of migrants. It overlaps with different policy-making areas within societies including labor, education, infrastructure, health care.

However, migration is not necessarily the root cause but an outcome, and therefore the additional focus should be put on those identified root causes and action is taken to alleviate them. One approach is to identify relevant indicators for each migration-related SDG and then determine what measures should be taken to affect those particular indicators.

Historically migration has taken place for hundreds of years. There is no reason why it would end. However, climate change and other environmental causes may increase migration. This will affect both individuals but also societies. Migration does not only relate to moving between countries but also within countries. Leaders of those societies should take action to take into account the sustainability aspects of migration. In this UN’s SDGs provide a good basis to take into account various aspects of migration and its consequences.

On political discussion, migration-related rhetorics have often a negative tone. However, it could be also considered that on a global level migration contributes to positive sustainable development and economic growth. It has its micro and macro-level challenges, but SDGs and related indicators are a viable approach to manage this complex and multi-faceted phenomenon while taking into account sustainability aspects.


Adger, W. N., Boyd, E., Fábos, A., Fransen, S., Jolivet, D., Neville, G., … & Vijge, M. J. (2019). Migration transforms the conditions for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Lancet Planetary Health, 3(11), e440-e442.

Foresti, M. & Hagen-Zanker, J. (2017). Migration and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Executive summary. Overseas Development Institute.

United Nations. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals.


United Nations. Their own goals – migration driving sustainable development.


Posted on behalf of the author, who is a student at the University of Helsinki

Would we be able to utilize digital profiles within migration?

Would we be able to utilize digital profiles within migration?


When talking about migration it becomes clear that there are many aspects to be considered within the phenomenon. One individualistic aspect is identity, which is important for immigrants. If we look at how many people globally lack legal identity, we find that the amount is as high as one-fifth of the global population. This is a big problem. If the migrant does not have legal identity, he/she will be denied access to basic needs such as work opportunities, an apartment, bank account, phone etc. (Cheesman, 2016). This means that there are many who are excluded from the basic needs, due to the fact that they have lost or never received legal identity. How is this fare? That just because of a paper you will not receive service. How would it be possible to tackle this problem?


We who participate in a MOOC course online at the University of Helsinki might not think much of it. Everything within the course can be done online with the help of different platforms. How then could we consider the correlation between technology, identity and migration? What if I said that with a digital profile it would be possible to create a safety net for people in conflict or natural hazard areas, or why not for people traveling a lot. It might be problematic if your identity is dependent on a piece of paper or passport. What happens if they are lost? How are you able to cross borders and prove your identity?


Not only would digital identity work as a safety net, but it could also enable an easier migration process. Currently many countries require a paper birth certificate for identifying the person. Why could this not become more utilized with digital means? Furthermore, from the intercultural encounters perspective it could help integrate the individual faster in the society and lessen the exclusion, since bureaucratic work takes a long time. It is impossible today to cross borders if you do not have any form of identification methods. With the profile, you would be able to keep information such as personal identification, health and bank information, educational background, travel information as such. This information would you yourself be able to choose who to share it with, for example the travel information with the border control and immigration service. When you have arrived in the country you could easily with your digital identity profile start adapting to the local life.

Sure, currently it is not possible to create a unified global profile system for all due to countries having different approaches and the risks it brings on, but it could be an alternative in the future. With the help of digital identity and a unified system, it would be possible to make the integration process smoother and more efficient. The world is moving towards a more technological development. I do not argue that travel should become digitalized completely, it is still a necessary safety precaution to have a passport and other identification methods aside from one single profile.

Posted on behalf of the author

This blogpost was written based on the writer’s own knowledge of digital identity received from participating in Demola Global Oy’s innovative research challenge Digital Identity at Work. The research was done with Sibell, Akther, Yao and Bizhanova (2021).




Cheesman, M. (2016). “Global digital identity – goodbye to national passports? The new geography of human rights.” Open Migration. https://openmigration.org/en/op-ed/global-digital-identity-goodbye-to-national-passports-the-new-geography-of-human-rights/


Sibell, S., Akther, S., Nyberg, S., Yao, A., Bizhanova, A. (2021). Digital Identity at Work. Demola Global Oy. (Unpublished report).

Picture 1: Nyberg, S. (2021). Picture created in Canva. https://www.canva.com

The real “migration crisis”: the depopulation of Italian villages

There is a phenomenon that brings together north and south Italy: small towns are emptying out. Students prefer urban centres to the outskirts and rural areas; some enrol in university, others move for work, other both at the same time. It is a democratic migration, there is no class distinction and everyone leaving their hometown does so not to come back again. In the small village, therefore, the inhabitants are most often only elderly people. In Italy only 22% of those who remain in rural town is younger than 24, and the percentage rises only to 24% in bigger rural towns. In Italy today “ghost towns” are around a thousand and according to Istat (National Institute for Statistics) the number goes up to 6000 when counting folds and alpine pastures. There are different reasons for this, ranging from economic migration to natural calamities (landslides, earthquakes and floods have made certain locations inaccessible), but a falling birth rate is also responsible for these numbers. Oftentimes these villages lack services, there are no supermarkets, no banks or pharmacies, no schools or public transport connections and the closes hospital is one hour away. Most importantly, though, they lack job opportunities. Young people have no real reason to seclude him- or herself in a village disconnected from the outside society, offering no perspectives for work or studies. It should not surprise, then, if this demographic leaves.


According to a report published by the department of social and economic affairs of the United Nations, 68% of the global population will live in urban areas by 2050. At the moment we are stalling at 55%, which is nonetheless a percentage that has grown exponentially in the last decades. This is, of course, not a recent phenomenon, but simply the evolution of urbanisation that has characterised various historical periods, especially during industrial revolutions. We live in a time where smart working is vastly diffused and in the upcoming years it will take the place of traditional working life. However, this will not be possible in more remote areas, where digital innovation is practically absent. In Italy many areas are still disconnected to the internet, forcing remote working people to move to find a better internet connection. Thanks to community financing, the 2022 Open Fiber project should bring high speed internet to 90% of the country, hopefully minimising such depopulation.


Additionally, Italian politics is not encouraging young talent to stay and is not implementing public transportation or digital connection, in an attempt to minimise the sense of isolation that seems to be an integral part of the life in more or less remote villages. This, alongside other issues faced by young Italians, spurs them to move abroad as there seems to be no prospects for the future in Italy, especially when the State is not actively promoting any initiative to make staying in the country endearing. This, however, is a global issue and cannot be overlooked forever.

Posted on behalf of the author, who is a student at the University of Helsinki

Filming for the course videos is underway

After careful planning, we have finally begun filming for the Im/migration and Intercultural Encounters course. Lockdown during last spring and the summer break at the university, caused filming to be pushed back to this Fall.

Our goal is to have more than half of our videos filmed before the holiday season and the rest are planned for the beginning of next year. We are exited to be working with Unigrafia on the production of our videos. Our teachers featured in the videos are in good hands.

The construction of the course site is also underway and we are working hard to have the assignments and materials up on the site during December and January.


COVID-19 has brought on many changes to the classroom, the most concrete of which is the shift from the physical classroom, to the virtual classroom. The scramble to move classes online has led to an increasing need for resources that discuss digital pedagogy. The need for discussion on topics that relate to digital pedagogy has never been as current as it is now. In this blog we will discuss on Digital Pedagogy, online courses, online teaching particularly in the field of Humanities.  


Tiina Airaksinen is Senior Lecturer in Asian Studies. She is trying to understand how to create feasible solutions in online teaching and is very interested in research on digital pedagogy particularly within cultural studies. 

 Anna-Leena Korpijärvi is a Doctoral candidate in Cultural Studies with a passion for developing tailored digital learning activities for theArts and digital pedagogical solutions that support these activities.

 What  is digital pedagogy and how does it differ from pedagogy for contact teaching? 

Digital pedagogy is often defined as the study and use of contemporary digital technologies in teaching and learning. This can refer to teaching conducted via Zoom, a MOOC course and anything in between. These types of teaching environments can appear distant and removed from teacher student contact, however online and hybrid teaching environments can and do include interactions between teachers and students as well as between students, it is somewhat different than traditional classroom interactions. 

Digital Pedagogy may be applied to online, hybrid, and face-to-face learning environments. Different types of teaching technologies used in university level teaching that increases every year. COVID-19 and the resulting distanced teaching has only accelerated the amount of online teaching available at university level. 

Digital technologies are relied upon to provide resources and support practices as well as learning platforms for class. Despite this, most teachers using digital teaching platforms and other tools, they are not necessarily knowledgeable on Digital Pedagogy.  

It can be difficult to figure out things like what are the best pedagogical solutions for a course or what types of learning objectives and activities are the most suitable for an individual teacher’s needs. 

One solution is that when planning your online course you begin to think what study objectives (of your course) are feasible or suitable in the online course. Then just choose a digital platform that you are most familiar with (moodle, mooc, courses.helsinki.fi, zoom, teams etc.). According to our research* the most used digital platform at the Faculty of Arts is the moodle.  

*Questionnaire: Digital Pedagogy and Intended Learning Outcomes in online teaching in Cultural Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki, spring 2020, Airaksinen Tiina ja Anna-Leena Korpijärvi 

The Durga Puja Mystery: An Educational Video Game about Indian Culture

We are excited to announce the release of our educational video game on the Indian festival Durga Puja. It was developed to target mainly (beginner and intermediary level) students in (South) Asian Studies and Religious Studies but can be used in any other context, as well, as it is easy to play also for persons who don’t usually play video games. The Durga Puja Mystery is a collaborative effort of the University of Helsinki, South Asian Studies, Xenia Zeiler, and the Kolkata (India) based award-winning game development studio Flying Robots Studio, Satyajit Chakraborty. It was funded by the Future Development Fund, Faculty of Arts, and the Digileap Initiative of the University of Helsinki. It is open access and we invite everyone to play. Enjoy!
Please find the press release at:

The player is subjected to educational tasks and investigative puzzles gradually informing about Indian festival culture, taking the example of the arguably most popular festival Durga Puja. During the game, the player will collect various items, including reference books, texts, images and objects, that can help with the investigation and play a key part in winning the game. Simultaneously and as characteristic for educational games, these items introduce to various key themes related to Durga Puja, and support the player in their educational and academic quest. They are selected with the aim to transmit information about and inspire further interest in Indian culture at large.

Please find the game and related info and material (a game trailer, many visuals such as HD wallpapers and screenshots, and context info on Durga Puja, such as current negotiations and debates around the festival) at:

We have been selected as a finalist for Hacking Higher Education Finland 2020!
The final event, with a video pitch from us, is streamed from a studio in Helsinki, Finland on the 16th of September 2020 at 2pm EET (GMT+3).
Social media channels:
Website: http://www.daretolearn.fi/
Blog: http://www.daretolearn.fi/blog
Instagram: @daretolearnfin
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DareToLearnFIN/
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1208700152799847/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/dare-to-learn
Official hashtags: #HHEFinland2020 #HackingHigherEducation

Official slogan: “Changing the way we think about higher education”
Voting for the winner will open one week in advance on the 9th of September. Voting is open for everyone, and the final winner will be chosen entirely by the audience. More information about voting will follow here soon.
If you like the game, this is your chance to vote :)!

A Short update on the DICE MOOC

The MOOC course on Im/migration will be held in the fourth period in the spring term 2021.

The course is available via the University of Helsinki and the Open University for ICE students and also for people working in fields related to Im/migration (MIGRI, Customs, City of Helsinki, schools, day care centres, service sector, private sector etc.).

It is a  part of the University of Helsinki’s Continuing Education –strategy.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, we have chosen to alter the contents of the course somewhat. Despite this, the course will include video material, student discussion and participation, as well as assignments that focus on immigration and emigration issues.

Gamefied Experience

The course will iclude a gamified learning experience on Transcultural Encounters + Diaspora Identity. It supports smart digital learning environments on a macro level. It is a joint collaboration of ICE teachers and award winning game developers. It builds on previous collaboration with the game studio which resulted in an educational video game for the University of Helsinki already – The Durga Puja Mystery.

The planned content is related to transcultural encounters during jointly celebrated festivals (taking the Indian festival Durgapuja in Helsinki as an example), highlighting issues of identity, globalization and diaspora communities. The game presents gamified experiences of theoretical and methodical aspects of migration and transcultural identity via in-game inserted books, texts and other material that need to be used during play. It introduces students to the fast-developing concept and experiences of game-based learning and utilizing game-based environments for teaching.

The game and the course are intended for students in all thematic ICE modules on transcultural processes, globalization and identity.

The course will be available to ICE students online through the MOOC portal.

Everything is open access.

Digital Intercultural Encounters (DICE) project launch

Chinese lunar New Year in Helsinki 2020 c) Tiina Airaksinen

On January 24th  Helsinki hosted a celebration for the Chinese lunar New Year. The year 2020 is the year of the rat. The celebration included everything from festive food, to plays and dancing dragons and lions.

The Chinese New Year also market the launch of the Digital Intercultural Encounters, or DICE for short. DICe is a Digital leap project 2020-2021. We represent the Master’s program in Intercultural Encounters and our project provides digital teaching for the students of the master’s program.

Kansalaostpri filled with lights c) Tiina Airaksinen

We decided to launch our project during the lunar New Year, because it coincides with a part of our project. Our project will produce an educational video game, which has the player delve into one or two Asian annual festivals. Professor Xenia Zeiler is the creative head of this part of our project. One of these festivals may be the Chinese lunar New Year. We decided to take advantage of the festivities in Helsinki and collect photographic material that can be used in the game.

The idea is that the student can move around in the game and interact with different parts of their surroundings. These interactions will give the student information on the festival itself, as well as the wider cultural aspects and traditions that are associated with the festival.

The Year of the rat c) Tiina Airaksinen

The second part of our project focusses on a MOOC course for the students of the Intercultural Encounters (ICE) Master’s Program. The theme of the course is Migration. Our aim is to design a course that has a practical work life focus and allows the students to apply the theoretical knowledge ad expertise that they learn during their studies into practice. The MOOC course is planned for the academic year 2021.