“Contributions of diaspora are very important; through their ideas, energy and creativity they are helping communities. Your activities could help us address the causes for migration,” said Marit Maij, Special Envoy for Migration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands at the international conference ‘Diaspora in Action’ at the Migration Museum in The Hague.
Engaging diaspora with their countries of origin is an important aspect of IOM’s work. IOM the Netherlands organized the conference ‘Diaspora in Action’ to highlight the achievements in this field and to explore future directions for diaspora engagement. With the project Connecting Diaspora for Development (CD4D) IOM the Netherlands supports the development of targeted sectors in selected countries by strengthening the capacity of key institutions through the engagement of their diaspora communities in the Netherlands. The five target countries are Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Sierra Leone and Somalia.
Prof.dr. Josette Dijkhuizen stressed the importance of diaspora entrepreneurs as investors in knowledge. “They are important agents of change. Stimulating diaspora entrepreneurship leads to economic development,” according to Dijkhuizen.
Prof. Dr. Melissa Siegel, head of Migration Studies at the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance elaborated on how knowledge can be transferred by diaspora experts. The CD4D project is closely monitored and evaluated under her supervision.
The keynote speeches were followed by two panel discussions on the roles that diaspora can fulfil to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals and the contributions that diaspora can make to achieve the objectives of the Netherlands government coalition policy with regard to international trade and development cooperation.
In the afternoon workshops were held about possible new directions, including: crowdfunding initiatives and investment opportunities by diaspora, transnational migrant entrepreneurship, new technologies, such as blockchain and legal pathways for educational and work experiences in Europe.