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