The role of diasporas in the development of their countries of origin is now an accepted part of migration and development analysis. However, policy recommendations have centered mostly on how origin countries engage their diasporas in development efforts. More than 110 origin countries have created specialized units devoted to facilitating diaspora contributions to development.
While research and recommendations on country-of-origin policies have advanced in both quantity and quality, two important pieces have been left out of diaspora-and-development discussions: 1) the importance of integration to the capacity of diaspora communities to contribute to development and 2) the ways in which official development cooperation programs in destination countries support diaspora organizations and involve diasporas in official development cooperation.
Few of the countries where diaspora communities have settled, many of which are also major donor countries, have made sustained efforts to encourage diaspora populations to contribute to development in their homelands, despite broad acknowledgment of the important role that diasporas can play. Interest in diaspora engagement began to gather momentum in the early 2000s, with recognition that migrant remittances surpassed the volume of all other financial flows to developing countries with the exception of foreign direct investment. After this, policy attention to other ways in which diasporas contribute to the development of their homelands emerged. While several donor governments established forums, formed partnerships with diaspora organizations, or initiated pilot projects to support the implementation of diaspora-focused development projects, interest and activity waned around 2015 amid the changing politics of immigration and competing international priorities. Now, with adoption of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, where the role of diasporas in development is promoted, diaspora engagement seems to once again be on donor countries’ policy horizon.