RoundTable 3 - Good migration governance for sustainable development
RT 3.2 Beyond remittances: enhancing the transnational civic engagement of diaspora and migrants
The expected outcome of this roundtable is a close analysis of how migrants’ contribution to their countries of origin can go beyond simply sending money to families ‘back home’. Participants will be invited to consider whether government policy in countries of origin towards diaspora communities exacerbates and over-emphasizes the importance of remittances at the cost of other forms of engagement and contribution. Discussions will be focused on concrete initiatives such as the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development which provides a new global framework for financing sustainable development by aligning all financing flows and policies with economic, social and environmental priorities. The roundtable is expected to help develop an expanded set of options, alternatives, incentives and metrics for transnational civic engagement by diaspora communities. The roundtable will also identify how host countries could act to facilitate in various forms, including through decentralised cooperation, immigrants’ contribution to development in their countries of origin as well as in their host countries.
The overwhelming majority of some 258 million international migrants have crossed borders as a matter of choice and through regular pathways. However, it is also true that millions of people are forced to leave their home countries in response to poverty and lack of opportunities, natural disasters or the adverse effects of climate change, as well as and human-made crises. These crises may lead to the infringement of their fundamental human rights such as the access to health, food or basic education.
Environmental factors directly or indirectly impact on the resilience and vulnerability of individuals, households and communities, and may push them to migrate. These factors include natural disasters, as well as the effect of slow-onset climate and environmental change (extreme temperature, desertification, etc.) which undermine the sustainability of local livelihoods (agriculture, farming, etc.). Human-made crises, such as civil wars, are one of the primary causes of refugee flows; but even outside of refugee flows, the socio-economic impacts of conflicts – food and health insecurity, political instability and the growth of criminal networks – may drive people to migrate.
There are clear relationships between emergency assistance, rehabilitation and development, and migration is a relevant component across all these dimensions. The international community recognises that emergency assistance should be provided in ways that support long-term development to ensure smooth transition from relief to rehabilitation. At the same time, economic growth and sustainable development are essential for the prevention of, preparedness for and resilience against natural disasters and other emergencies.
In order to tackle the issue of “migration by necessity”, it is essential to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as they recognize the complex two-way nexus between migration and development and point out that development does not take away the need to migrate but contributes towards ensuring that migration takes place in a safe, orderly, regular and responsible migration.
Migrants’ transnationalism cuts across cultures, with impacts ranging from remittances, philanthropy and entrepreneurial drive to socio-political influence. These phenomena have redefined the relationship of numerous countries with their respective diasporas. Countries of origin have been opening up to a new form of civic engagement on the part of migrants initially perceived as “absent citizens”; by organizing themselves, these groups have had an important impact on both economies, politics, and culture of both sending countries and receiving countries. These forms of grassroots activism, by migrants and their organizations, is increasingly attracting the attention of State institutions, in particular governments as well as non-state actors.
- To what extent is over emphasis on financial remittances an obstacle to valuing other migrant-related assets that could contribute to the development of countries of origin (e.g. entrepreneurship skills, professional skills or technical knowledge)?
- What types of incentives might attract migrants back to countries of origin to aid their development and provide specialized skills and expertise in priority sectors (e.g. diaspora health professionals supporting national health systems, etc.)?
- To what extent is transnational civic engagement by migrants dependent upon the free movement of people, goods and ideas?
- How can non-financial engagement (i.e. other forms of civic engagement) with migrants usefully be quantified?
- What could host countries do in policy terms to enable immigrants to diversify their contributions to the development and achievement of the migration related targets of the Agenda 2030 in their countries of origin as well as host countries?
- How can local and regional authorities be empowered to facilitate civic engagement with both immigrants and their diaspora for development purposes?