Human Mobility, Shared Opportunities

A review of the 2009 Human Development Report and the way ahead

Antonio Guterres - United Nations Secretary General
❛Migrants make a major contribution to international development – both by their work and by sending remittances to their home countries. The fundamental challenge is to maximize the benefits of this orderly, productive form of migration while stamping out the abuses and prejudice that make life hell for a minority of migrants.❜
António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General

In its 2009 Human Development Report, UNDP set out how to maximise the benefits, reduce the costs and make migration an act of hope rather than desperation.

Fast forward a decade, Human Mobility, Shared Opportunities: A Review of the 2009 Human Development Report and the Way Ahead describes the reality of migration today, explores its root causes and what needs to change.

Debates about migration have become increasingly polarized. For some, migration costs jobs and affects community cohesion. For others, migration has unequivocally positive economic and social benefits.

The new study offers solutions to maximize the contribution migrants are already making to our societies. It suggests actions to ensure human mobility remains safe and inclusive.


Map showing where international migrants come from globally and live

Source: HDRO


In 2018, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees set out an international plan to address the age old phenomenon of people on the move. This report builds on those agreements and looks to their implementation.

Good migration is good development, and good development means migration becomes a choice. The freedom to pursue the kind of life one chooses is what most people seek whether they decide to move or stay in place.

Two women in a large greenhouse plant seeds
Copyright: UNDP Lebanon/Dalia Khamissy

Access to education, good health, a secure livelihood and accountable governments, combined with a fair environment that rewards effort, may persuade people that they can pursue their goals at home. They are also some of the major goals of development. Though development also enables migration when people feel their ambitions are blocked at home.

Climate change, rising inequality, digital transformation and the COVID-19 pandemic of work are having a radical impact on human mobility. Climate change and environmental degradation alone could result in anywhere between 25 million and 1 billion displaced people by 2050.

The core message arising from this report has never been more urgent: the need to strengthen legal pathways to migration, to protect the rights of migrants, to make remittances cheaper, to tackle climate change, inequality and other drivers and to put our collective humanity at the centre of human mobility.

Call to action

A fact-based understanding among the general public of the pros and cons of human mobility is vital for human development. Easing concerns and anxieties rather than polarizing opinions will help the debate.

Read more about Human Mobility by downloading the report and share your stories of migrant friendly businesses and organisations by shouting out your local heroes on social media #HumanMobility.

Two women sat at computers
Copyright: UNDP/Freya Morales

Download the Human Mobility, Shared Opportunities Report