The European strand of the Global Diaspora Forum took place in Killiney, Dublin, on the 14th and 15th of May this year and was attended by 200 delegates from around the world. The two-day programme included seven themed workshops with contributions from a wide range of leaders on diaspora matters.
The workshops concentrated on how countries could benefit economically from their diaspora communities and how new communication methods and cultural and tourism initiatives can strengthen the ties between the two.
The leaders encouraged governments and organisations to build relationships with their diasporas and to devise strategies which reward both parties for their engagement. Ireland in particular has been a guiding light in this area. Kathleen Newland of the US Migration Policy Institute said the “world had a lot to learn” from Ireland’s diaspora-led approach, which has centred around the concept that “it is fun to be Irish,” the Irish Times reports.
“I work with a lot of governments around the world on diaspora engagement and there is often an ‘eat your vegetables’ approach to diaspora engagement, something that you need to do and that diaspora communities are obliged to give back to their home countries,” she said. “But not until you make it fun and rewarding will that engagement be sustainable.”
Chairman of The Gathering, Tim O’Connor, said that Ireland’s tourism initiative had been an example of the “democratisation of diaspora policy,” showing how governments, business partners and communities at home and abroad could work together for their mutual benefit, writes the Irish Times.
“It has created a platform whereby local areas, right down to families, parishes and county councils can get actively involved,” he said.
“One of the challenges for the homeplace is to devise compelling and manageable propositions that are doable for people,” O’Connor advised.
Professor Mark Boyle of the Department of Geography in NUI Maynooth pushed for a coherent EU policy on diasporas, saying, “Unless you get the policy right, the funding and support mechanisms won’t happen.”