“Mainstreaming” is a familiar term in the world of development cooperation, where it is a common approach to cross-cutting issues such as gender, human rights and the environment. The language of mainstreaming is less familiar to the international ‘migration community’. In 2010, the Global Migration Group (GMG) launched a practical guidance tool, the Handbook on Mainstreaming Migration into Development Planning at the GFMD in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The Handbook was designed to introduce migration practitioners to the process of development planning, and to give development practitioners an idea of how migration could be integrated into the development planning cycle as well as sector specific strategies in the areas of employment, health, education etc. The Handbook defines migration mainstreaming as “the process of assessing the implications of migration for any action or goals planned in a development and poverty reduction strategy”.

Mainstreaming means taking a systematic, rather than ad-hoc, approach to the interlinkages between migration and development, based on a substantive assessment or analysis. It goes beyond those linkages that may provide the most obvious entry points for governments to become interested in the development potential of migration - such as remittances flows and diaspora contributions.

Ideally, it will prompt countries to look comprehensively at:

  1. Migration dynamics, including the direction and composition of migration flows and associated flows of funds, skills, and knowledge; and
  2. Their impacts, both positive and negative, at various levels (including local and regional effects), and on different dimensions of human wellbeing. 

Based on this initial situation assessment, the mainstreaming process will bring focused attention to three dimensions: 

  1. The country’s policy framework, including legislation, policies, and programmes that affect migration and development;
  2. Its institutional framework, including the role of different government and non-government stakeholders and the establishment of sustainable consultative mechanisms; and
  3. Bilateral and regional cooperation frameworks, including development or mobility partnerships, and their role in supporting the country’s migration and development goals.