Promoting Diaspora Engagement what have we learnt?
The growing interest in diaspora engagement among ICMPD’s partner countries over the last ten years bears witness to an emerging global trend. That trend is for countries to increasingly recognise and seek to enhance the role of migrants and diaspora in development. ICMPD’s mission is to strive for comprehensive and sustainable migration governance in partnership with those who have a stake in this multifaceted process. Migrants and diasporas are key stakeholders and we therefore support efforts to engage them. ICMPD’s work on diaspora engagement initially concentrated on Europe and the Mediterranean region, but today we also work in SubSaharan Africa, the Caucasus and Central Asia. ICMPD provides technical expertise and training to further develop the capacities of state institutions and diaspora organisations. Peer-to-peer learning has been an integral part of this process; ICMPD was one of the first organisations to promote south-south cooperation and expert exchanges on diaspora policies and practices. Capacity development has usually gone hand-in-hand with policy development and support to whole-of-government approaches to migration, inter-ministerial coordination and multi-stakeholder processes.
This working paper contributes to the necessary process of refining the way in which projects promoting diaspora engagement are designed. Furthermore, this paper contributes to balancing the current predominant perception of migration as an element of crisis by placing the focus also on positive aspects, and the important contributions that migrants and diasporas make. The first part of the paper is dedicated to the contextualisation of diaspora engagement in migration and development policy, followed by a brief discussion on different concepts and approaches. Based on ICMPD’s work, key observations and lessons learnt in four main areas have been highlighted, all chosen since they form central aspects in many of our projects. The main part of the paper is therefore divided into four sections. Firstly, they discuss their experiences in getting to know the diaspora. Secondly, they analyse support given to states in developing tailored diaspora engagement policies and approaches. Thirdly, they talk about empowering the diaspora. In the fourth section, they discuss the importance of creating spaces for government-diaspora interaction. In the last part of the paper they reflect on where to go from here and outline recommendations. Annexed is a list of projects and other initiatives for quick reference to methods, publications and tools mentioned in the paper.