IOM and the RCM aim to make to make the economic, social and cultural contributions of the diasporas of the region more visible
San Salvador, May 24, 2022. Diasporas are fundamental actors in Latin American and Caribbean societies. In their most visible dimension, they contribute large amounts to the economy through remittances. In fact, the region received 126 million dollars, and in countries such as El Salvador and Honduras, remittance income exceeded 20% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Furthermore, diasporas represent a central factor in the migration process, as they influence the decision to migrate and help to increase migrants' sense of belonging in their host communities.
Due to the fundamental role they play in migration, the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) held the Forum for the promotion, development, linkage and capitalization of the contributions of diasporas on May 23 and 24 in El Salvador, the country currently holding the Pro Tempore Presidency of the RCM. Representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Member States, as well as representatives of organizations responsible for the identification, linkage or integration of the diaspora participated in the event, which was also attended by representatives of the Salvadoran diaspora.
"This space has a profound importance as it allows us to recognize the commitment of our people abroad, because even when they are not physically in their countries, they continue to contribute to the development and creation of opportunities in their countries" said Cindy Mariela Portal, Vice Minister of Diaspora and Human Mobility of El Salvador in the opening session. She also added that "it is a space to recognize the good practices of the diasporas for the development of their countries of origin and the identification of initiatives that have had an impact in the territories, with concrete results that have benefited the entire population".
The activity was a follow-up to the Discussion Forum with Diaspora Organizations held in 2021, which sought not only to address the challenges faced by diasporas, but also to make visible their areas of opportunity, such as their links with countries of origin, mechanisms for building trust with diasporas, opportunities to strengthen institutional frameworks to link policies to provide them with services, as well as integration processes in destination countries and enhance the contribution of diasporas beyond remittances; focused on capitalizing on their contributions in different areas as part of migration governance.
In its 2022 edition, the forum sought to work more comprehensively on the issue of linking with diasporas, emphasizing their economic, social and cultural contributions. This is in line with IOM's strategic focus on enabling, engaging and empowering diasporas as agents of development, as reaffirmed by Ms. Michele Klein-Solomon, IOM Regional Director for Central America, North America and the Caribbean in her opening remarks.
The forum also provided an opportunity for regional synergy, as it was attended by the Pro-Tempore Presidency of the South American Conference on Migration (SCM), given that the issue of diasporas is a priority for both regions. The forum opened space not only to the cooperation of both consultative processes established in the region on migration (RCM-SCM), but also to the possible collaboration between the Member Countries of the RCM to maximize the potential of the diaspora as a bridge between them.
"These spaces allow us to recognize the fundamental role that migrants play in the development of the countries and societies in which they live. In addition, they are essential to strengthen synergies between institutions. As indicated in Sustainable Development Goal 16, this is how we understand the challenges, progress and good practices, and focus our work on a common goal: the welfare of migrants," said Nicola Graviano, IOM Chief of Mission in El Salvador.
In line with the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, this forum aims to improve conditions for migrants and diasporas to fully contribute to sustainable development in all countries (Goal 19) and to promote faster, safer and cheaper remittance transfers and foster financial inclusion of migrants (Goal 20). It also relates to Goals 17 and 18 of the Sustainable Development Agenda.
The member countries of the RCM are Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, The Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and the United States. This initiative was supported by IOM under the Western Hemisphere Program, financed by the U.S. Department of State Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration.