GFMD Regional Workshop: Harnessing migration for rural development

The European Union is supporting the Ecuadorian Chairmanship of the 2019 Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) through the MIgration EU eXpertise (MIEUX) Initiative, implemented by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), in hosting a series of four regional roundtables engage regional stakeholders in meaningful dialogue ahead of the Quito Summit to be held in November 2019. The workshops respond to one of the priorities expressed by the Ecuadorian GFMD Chairmanship to engage regional stakeholders in meaningful dialogue ahead of the Quito Summit in November 2019.

The two-day regional roundtable “Harnessing Migration for Rural Development” was held on 14 and 15 August in Kingston, Jamaica. During two days, nearly 60 participants hailing from academic, governmental and non-governmental backgrounds, together with international organisations, discussed the role of migration and remittances in the transformation of rural areas, including the impact on agriculture and related industries, as well as local employment opportunities and entrepreneurship in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

Together, participants debated good practices, opportunities and challenges that migration may bring for local development. Discussions acknowledged the challenges rural movers face at points of origin and destination, and argued that governments need rethink how best to respond. These discussions will feed directly into the supporting documents for the Quito Summit´s Round-table 3.2 “Harnessing migration for rural transformation and development” ” of the GFMD 2019 agenda.

In summary, participants proposed that programmes and policies that define human mobility as a strategic, adaptive response to the challenges of growing vulnerabilities creating what Clemens (2017) describes as a “virtuous cycle” should be developed. In a virtuous cycle, migration drives development and leads to sustainable policymaking that manages future movements. In other words, migration becomes an opportunity to establish horizontal interventions that are long lasting and foster success; migrants become agents of change and the xenophobic fears that characterize national debates are put to rest.

Building upon examples from the Caribbean (particularly Jamaica), South America (and in particular Ecuador), the Philippines and beyond, the workshop revealed the important role migration and migrant remittances play in the creation of sustainable programming. These examples follow programmes developed to transform rural sending communities, support rural agriculture, and increase rural investment; and describe powerful pathways for policy makers (whether local, state or international), migrants and non-migrants to follow as they enhance positive, sustainable outcomes; and recommendations for future directions.

The full summary report of the workshop is available here.