Why and How Multilateral Development Banks Support Improved Outcomes for Economic Migrants and Refugees 

Economic migrants and refugees can bring both benefits and costs to their hosting countries. If well-integrated, they can support themselves, their families, and their hosting countries as producers and consumers. Both economic migration and forced displacement are therefore integrally linked with development outcomes. Recognizing this, multilateral development banks (MDBs) are supporting their beneficiary member countries to improve outcomes for economic migrants and refugees, in the form of billions of dollars in grants and loans, as well as technical assistance, policy dialogues, and knowledge exchanges.

This paper provides an introductory snapshot of some of the financing instruments, projects, and strategies used; particularly innovative approaches; and challenges MDBs face in expanding their engagement. It is hoped this paper will be useful to anyone who is interested in understanding how MDBs engage on economic migration and forced displacement, particularly as these issues continue to grow in importance.

The authors would like to thank our interviewees, at both MDBs and external agencies, who generously gave their time to answer our questions, send us documents, and review our paper. It also benefited from discussions within the MDB Coordination Platform on Economic Migration and Forced Displacement, and at the World Bank. We would also like to thank our peer reviewers; Ariana Ames for research assistance; and the communications teams at CGD and Refugees International for editing, design, and publication support. Finally, the IKEA Foundation and Conrad F. Hilton Foundation funded this work, as part of our ‘Let Them Work’ initiative. Learn more.