18 December is always an important day in our calendar, motivating us to step back and take stock of the meaning of migration, its past present and future. It is a day to acknowledge and celebrate migration as a force for good, and migrants as actors of change. In 2020, IMD takes on a heightened significance as an opportunity to acknowledge the incredible contributions migrant communities have made in responding to Covid-19 and building social-cohesion despite crisis.
A year ago, the theme of International Migrants Day was social cohesion. At the time, we could not have predicted how essential the following 12 months would prove social cohesion to be, with its emphasis on trust, inclusion and shared vision. The global pandemic has raised awareness of the incredible contributions migrants and diasporas make to the communities they live in and hail from, as healthcare workers, teachers, farmers, translators, campaigners and so much more. It is very appropriate, therefore, that 2020’s theme, ‘Reimagining Human Mobility’, builds on the idea of social cohesion, placing the potential of migrants’ knowledge, skills and networks at the centre of discussions on the future of mobility.
Our project may focus on the proven potential of diaspora for development of countries of heritage, from remittances, to skills exchange, to investment, to advocacy and beyond, but International Migrants Day offers the chance to look at migration and diaspora through a wider lens, and to celebrate how – at individual, organisational and community level – migration, mobility and social cohesion are connected, both in times of calm and crisis.
“On this International Migrants Day, let us seize the opportunity of the recovery from the pandemic to implement the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, reimagine human mobility, enable migrants to reignite economies at home and abroad and build more inclusive and resilient societies.” – UN Secretary General António Guterres
Diasporas, mobility & social cohesion
Diasporas have a special position of diaspora in global society, connected to different communities emotionally, culturally, financially… Diasporas are created through mobility, and diaspora engagement is the embodiment of global social cohesion, contributing to integration and development simultaneously: from mobilised individuals, to organisations; in countries of residence, in countries of heritage – often in both.
The global Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone: migrant and diaspora communities, host communities and countries of heritage included. During this challenging period, diaspora communities have taught many lessons on the importance of human mobility for creating a resilient and responsive global society, for which we applaud all diaspora actors and partners. Crisis has often been a catalyst for diaspora contribution, and responses to the pandemic have been an awe-inspiring demonstration of how migrant communities build, create and support all the communities they are connected to – see ADEPT’s campaign #AfricanDiasporaHeroesUnmasked for inspiring examples of action in both host and home countries. At EUDiF, we are currently seeking to learn from diaspora responses to crisis to bridge knowledge gaps and build resilience for the future (read more to get involved).
IMD 2020 calls for us to reimagine human mobility. From the perspective of diaspora, this reimagining seems to be underway in Europe, in particular with the EU’s focus on talent partnerships opening possibilities for diaspora involvement, from knowledge of markets, to skills transfer and their transnational networks. Another positive news for 2020 is that the European Commission’s new Action plan on Integration and Inclusion 2021-2027 recognises diaspora as actors of integration and inclusion for the first time. This important moment shows trust and will hopefully lead to opportunities for diaspora to be ‘at the table’; it is complementary to the role many diaspora play as actors of development, which has been on the EU’s agenda for some years.
On International Migrants Day, we celebrate all migrants and diasporas for the dynamic, powerful roles they play in global society.
We are looking for diaspora-led projects on development in countries of heritage, or integration in countries of residence to build our knowledge hub on diaspora engagement. To submit a project, complete this form (submissions welcome in English, Arabic, French, Russian and Spanish).
We will read and review submissions, turn them into ‘project infosheets’ (you’ll get a copy!) and use them to support our research and dialogue activities with diaspora organisations, and national authorities of countries of origin and EU Member States, as well as with the European Commission and other international partners.
Thank you for helping us build a truly informed, inclusive and impactful diaspora-development ecosystem.