February 6, 2024
Navigating diaspora engagement for development at the GFMD

The 14th Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) took place in Geneva, 22-25 January 2024 under the Chairmanship of France. EUDiF was lucky to be there in person, speaking at roundtable 3, hosting a side-event on the intersection between gender, youth and diaspora, and speaking on another on North and West Africa. Here, we share highlights from Oleg, Diana and Fanny as a glimpse into the discussions that are shaping global policymaking on migration and development.

The GFMD is an annual gathering that serves as a platform for dialogue on the intricate intersection of migration and development. This year, EUDiF had the privilege of not just attending but actively participating and leaving a mark on the discussions. We were proud to be a part of this event and to witness the growing recognition of the immense potential for positive change that diaspora engagement represents.

Increased recognition and visibility

One theme that echoed through the halls of GFMD was the amplified recognition and visibility of diaspora engagement for development. EUDiF’s Knowledge management and research officer Fanny spoke at the side event, “Committed Diasporas: Catalysts for Development: Perspectives and initiatives from North and West Africa” co-organised by Enabel, AFFORD, OECD and the government of Guinea. The panel underscored the need to acknowledge the multifaceted roles diaspora members play, going beyond financial contributions to include knowledge transfer, skills development, and cultural preservation. Speakers underlined that the diaspora represent a vast pool of skills, knowledge, and resources that can be leveraged to promote economic growth, social progress, and innovation. Fanny spoke about the roles young diaspora members can play in the heritage tourism sector, namely using digital tools. Read more about this topic in our case study on Youth entrepreneurship & heritage tourism.

Strengthened partnerships

Leveraging insights and experiences garnered from EUDiF’s first four years, as well as those discussed during our recent Future Forum on the theme of partnership, Head of Global Initiatives Oleg Chirita actively contributed to the discussions of “Round Table 3 on Diasporas as actors of economic, social and cultural development” with a lightening talk reflecting on policies, practices, and partnerships . This session underlined the necessity to enhance collaboration among governments, diaspora communities and various stakeholders. It is important that governments equip themselves with policy frameworks that streamline diaspora potential and include youth and women, as well as to learn from and build on successful practices from across the globe. In terms of partnerships, two points stood out: First, that an intersectional approach to diaspora engagement helps create a nuanced understanding of communities. Second, inter-generational dialogue is a positive step to acknowledge and harness the drive and potential of younger generations.

Youth and women empowerment

Migration narratives are shifting, recognising the pivotal roles that young individuals and women play in shaping the future of their communities. EUDiF co-organised a side event with Kyrgyzstan and the Migration Youth and Children’s Platform, “Collective storytelling: women, youth & diaspora engagement – next steps and planning”. The event platformed young women diasporans, including the winner of the Future Forum’s Youth Pitch, Danaker. The stories shared highlighted the relatively untapped potential of young women within diaspora engagement, revealing the identity struggles and challenges which require more inclusive and gender-sensitive approaches. EUDiF’s Diana acted as moderator-storyteller, adding her own tale of raising girls in the diaspora  and drawing out stories from the audience. Together, the stories demonstrated a push for inclusive approaches in diaspora engagement, whilst warning against inclusion as a box-ticking exercise. 

Kudos to the youth!

Our side event wasn’t the only place young diasporans were leading the charge… Our friends at MYCP ensured that young people were active across all discussions, as well as running for the second time the Youth Leadership and Innovation Award. All finalists and winners proved the immense power of young people to tackle the world’s most difficult problems, but we give a particular congratulations to Jin Dawod for winning 2nd place, with the top idea in the category “Social, economic, and cultural contributions of diaspora”. We were lucky enough to coach Jin in preparation for the conference and got to know her brilliant project, Peace Therapist, an online platform that connects users with to provide free therapy for those who have experienced trauma, particularly refugees traumatized by war as well as earthquake survivors, in their native language. Seeing Jin take away a prize added an extra layer of pride to our GFMD experience.

We also had the pleasure of reconnecting with two EUDiF alumni now based in Geneva, Oumou Diallo and Anna Beatrice Cinco who were at the summit on behalf of the GFMD Civil Society Mechanism and ILO, respectively. It is brilliant to see their careers flourish and to reconnect in the migration and development world years later. Including young people in project implementation has been a huge asset to EUDiF and we are excited to work with the alumni community more in the future – watch this space!

Looking ahead

As we reflect on our participation in GFMD, the journey doesn’t end here. We are committed to integrating the key learnings from GFMD discussions into our work. We will continue to advocate for the recognition and support of diaspora engagement, focusing on its transformative potential for sustainable development. Moreover, we will prioritise youth and women’s participation in diaspora engagement efforts, ensuring that their voices are heard, and their contributions are valued even more.

In conclusion, being at the GFMD was about actively contributing to the dialogue, offering insights, and shaping the narrative around diaspora engagement for development, as well as connecting with lots of likeminded potential partners. As we eagerly anticipate the future, we stand firm to turn these takeaways into actionable initiatives within EUDiF II, forging a path towards more inclusive, impactful, and sustainable diaspora-led development. Together, we can harness the power of the diaspora to create a more prosperous and equitable world!

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