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This working paper describes ICMPD’s work in promoting diaspora engagement and capitalises on our experience of having seen both sides of the story. We have worked together with governments in designing better policies and programmes, as well as concrete outreach activities. We have also formed partnerships with some of the largest and most well-known diaspora organisations in Europe to support capacity development, enhance networking and empower diasporas as development actors. This advantageous position has helped us in our role as an intermediary, facilitating communication, learning and interaction between diasporas and governments. ICMPD helps create spaces for the type of meetings and dialogue which support relationship- and trustbuilding, and which lead, in turn, to real engagement and ownership from all stakeholders. Ultimately, there should be a common approach and a sense of partnership between the many different stakeholders who share responsibilities and a joint vision for successful diaspora engagement.
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, we discuss our experiences in getting to know the diaspora. Secondly, we analyse support given to states in developing tailored diaspora engagement policies and approaches. Thirdly, we talk about empowering the diaspora. In the fourth section, we discuss the importance of creating spaces for government-diaspora interaction. In the last part of the paper we 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