Regional Migration Governance Conference Gathers Senior Governments Officials and Global Experts to Discuss Diaspora Engagement and Private Sector Development
Thursday, November 26, 2020
On 24-25 November, IOM Georgia, in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and the Secretariat of the State Commission for Migration Issues (SCMI) of the Government of Georgia organized a two day high level regional conference gathering senior government officials from Georgia, Armenia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Ukraine and Switzerland as well as experts, diaspora and civil society representatives from Ireland, Canada, Bulgaria and the UK. Over the two days, participants discussed nexus between migration and development, exchanging best practices and sharing information on diaspora outreach and engagement to benefit country economic development.
The conference titled “Emigration and Diaspora Engagement to Promote Private Sector Development” highlighted specific examples of diaspora engagement, institutional structures and networks established to manage and implement migration policies as well as ensure successful diaspora relations. The conference took place online and was organized within the framework of the project “Enhancing Migrants’ Rights and Good Governance in Armenia and Georgia (EMERGE)” funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway.
“The global COVID 19 pandemic has had an overreaching impact on all aspects of our present as well as our future life. It keeps pushing us to rethink the way we operate and do things. It also keeps offering new opportunities. In this particular moment, we also wanted to use this opportunity to reflect on migration management potentials and explore how diaspora involvement can help us address the immediate consequences of this global crisis, and moreover, and help us in shaping up our “new normal” in a longer term,” said IOM Georgia Chief of Mission, Sanja Celebic Lukovac, who welcomed the conference participants jointly with Vladimer Konstantinidi, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Marko Soldic, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of Norway in Georgia and Renate Held, IOM Regional Director for South -Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia and provided introductory remarks.
“Migration in the South Caucuses and the Black Sea region is a complex and dynamic phenomenon. The countries represented at this meeting today face a common set of opportunities and challenges regarding migration governance. These impact – and are impacted by – social and economic development across the region. They require evidence-based policies and programming to best leverage the development potential of migration,” noted Renate Held, IOM Regional Director, South -Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Bulgaria, Milko Berner, Deputy Minister for Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine, Taras Kachka and General Director of the Organization for Small and Medium Enterprises Sector Development, Government of Moldova, Iulia Costin, participated in a High-level panel on Diaspora Engagement to Promote Private Sector Development moderated by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Vladimer Konstantinidi. At the end of the conference, Mr. Konstantinidi also provided concluding remarks and stressed that “this conference highlighted that exploring nexus between migration and development has now gained even more importance than ever before. In the context of current global pandemic, while experiencing health damages and economic downturns, we need our diaspora professionals to engage in social and economic recovery. This is where we need to enhance linkages between our diaspora professionals and private sector representatives.”
The highlight of the event was the keynote speech delivered by Mr. Kingsley Aikins from the Networking Institute in Ireland. Mr. Aikins spoke about the importance of Diaspora engagement and the challenges and opportunities presented to the world by COVID 19: “We are fortunate that diaspora engagement is a non-competitive industry. Accordingly, we should connect and collaborate extensively and share experiences and lessons. I am a member of an association called CASE- Copy And Steal Everything and so I encourage and participate in the maximum amount of collaboration and sharing between countries.”
The conference report will be disseminated in December. The Secretariat of the SCMI of Georgia and the governments of the participants countries, plan to present the regional conference highlights at the upcoming Global Forum for Migration and Development (GFMD) to take place in early 2021.