Migration is the movement of people, either within a country or across international borders. It includes all kinds of movements, irrespective of the drivers, duration and voluntary/involuntary nature. It encompasses economic migrants, displaced persons, refugees and asylum seekers, returnees and people moving for other purposes, including family reunification. FAO’s work focuses on rural migration, from, to and between rural areas.

FAO and migration

Migration, its drivers and impacts, must be addressed when striving toward the eradication of hunger and poverty. With its mission of ending food insecurity and malnutrition, eliminating poverty and promoting the sustainable management of natural resources, FAO is uniquely placed to support countries in addressing the rural dimensions of migration, its implications for rural populations and its impact on the future of agriculture and food systems.

Together with its partners, FAO is expanding on its work to strengthen the positive contribution that migrants, are making toward poverty reduction, improved food security and nutrition and resilience of rural households.

In 2017, there were 258 million international migrants.
There are an estimated one billion internal migrants in developing countries.
In 2017, there were 68.5 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide.
85 percent of refugees are hosted by developing countries.
Women account for almost half of all international migrants.
1/3 of all international migrants are between the ages of 15 and 34.
International remittances are estimated at USD 613 billion; about 40% are sent to rural areas.
In 2016, climate and water-related disasters were responsible for 23.5 million displacements.

Migration, agriculture and rural development

Migration should be a choice, not a necessity. International cooperation should create conditions that allow communities to live in peace and prosperity in their homelands.

The adverse drivers of migration include: conflicts, natural and human-made crises, rural poverty, food insecurity, inequality, unemployment, lack of social protection as well as natural resource depletion due to environmental degradation and climate change. Promoting rural development and opportunities in agriculture can help address these.

Investing in sustainable rural development, climate change adaptation and resilient rural livelihoods is an important part of the global response to migration.

Coherent policies between migration, agriculture and rural development are essential to ensure safe, orderly, and regular migration.

Facilitating the investment of remittances, mobilizing migrants and diaspora, and facilitating the transfer of knowledge and skills are key elements to harness the opportunities associated with migration.

Working with governments, UN agencies, the private sector, civil society, diaspora associations, and local communities, FAO is working on harnessing the developmental potential of migration for improving food security and reducing poverty.


FAO’s response

FAO has an active role to play in addressing migration. By gathering statistics and data on rural migration and its drivers, FAO aims at closing the knowledge gaps in order to support evidence-based policies, programmes and investments. By raising awareness on the critical role migration plays in agriculture and rural development, FAO helps to shape emerging global, regional and national agendas on migration and strives to increase coherence between migration policies and rural development policies. FAO also works with stakeholders to strengthen their capacities to provide viable livelihood opportunities in agriculture and rural areas.

The Organization aims to protect the right to food of all people on the move, while fostering their integration into their new communities and strengthening the social and economic resilience of host communities. Working with its partners and using resilient agricultural livelihoods as a key instrument, FAO plays an important role in:

  1. addressing the adverse drivers that compel people to move and boosting alternatives in rural areas;
  2. facilitating rural mobility and ensuring that people can move regularly and safely between rural and urban areas as well as across international borders;
  3. reinforcing the positive contribution of migrants and displaced people for agricultural and rural communities;
  4. promoting resilient, agricultural livelihoods for migrants and host communities.

Share this page