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Ending the Economic Exclusion of People on the Move

The movement of people will be a defining issue of the 21st century but has largely been treated as “niche” by the global development community. Over a billion people are either living or want to live across international borders in search of a better life, spurred by unprecedented demographic factors in addition to usual causes of displacement. These people largely face systemic economic exclusion, barred from legal movement or employment.

GDI’s People on the Move team has completed a global landscaping of needs, interventions, and funding flows for migrants and displaced people and now issues a summary of the key conclusions, to be followed by deeper dives on specific topics.

This summary brief includes a field-wide theory of change for ending the economic exclusion of people on the move, with pathways to improve access to safe and legal movement and employment. Drawing on input from migrants, displaced people, and would-be migrants around the world, we also present a framework centering on human needs regardless of legal category (refugee, asylum seeker, labor migrant, trafficking victim, etc.). We issue calls to action for practitioners and funders, and provide a high-level map of how funding flows can help achieve the theory of change. 

The People on the Move initiative continues to identify innovative approaches to unlock opportunities across borders and seeks to mobilize resources to make these approaches possible. To learn more about this effort and the topics covered in this brief, watch our first webinar featuring a panel discussion with organizations that are creating safe and legal mobility pathways for people on the move. Get in touch with the team at, and sign up for email updates here.