Blog Details


The second regional winter school "Diaspora as a potential for local development: from national policies to local actions" was held, which was organized by the Faculty of Geography and the Western Balkan Migration Network (WB-MIGNET), of which ISSP is a member, and with the support of the global program " Migration and Diaspora" (PMD), German Development Cooperation, which is implemented in Serbia by GIZ.

The goal of the school, which gathered representatives of local governments from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, is to strengthen the capacity of employees in local government units to understand the importance of the diaspora in development processes and its economic contribution through the transfer of knowledge, skills and technologies.

"The role of the diaspora in the function of development is an extremely important issue both for the state and for each individual local government whose citizens live and work abroad. Emigration, among other things, affects the demographic potential of local communities, and it is necessary to determine the reasons for departure in order to mitigate emigration, but also the possibility of more active engagement of the diaspora in the place of origin, as well as the conditions for their voluntary return. The challenges in this domain are complex and very different, and it is up to each local self-government unit to devise activities that best suit the situation on the ground. In addition to the theoretical retrospective and the presentation of examples from around the world, the school offers the opportunity to learn about examples of good practice from the region, and through interactive activities, participants have the opportunity to gain applicable knowledge through mutual exchange of experiences," explained Dr. Danica Šantić.

As part of the planned activities during the winter school, special emphasis was placed on the connection between migration and development and raising the importance of the role of migrants themselves in the development processes of the motherland. Models of skills and knowledge transfer and their potential for encouraging sustainable development and including the diaspora in development cooperation programs were also discussed.

"The main challenges in achieving cooperation with the diaspora are the lack of an adequate database, insufficient human resources that would be engaged in creating forms of cooperation, failure to recognize the needs of the diaspora itself, but also of local self-government units in the function of development. It is clear that insufficiently defined legislation contributes to this, which should be aimed at the possibilities of achieving cooperation, but also narrows the possibilities for local self-government units to provide benefits for people who want to invest in their place of origin, but also to return. The importance of organizing schools with similar problems represents an initial step towards recognizing the various possibilities of cooperation between local self-government units and members of our diaspora. The goal is to sensitize people within the system so that the acquired knowledge and experience can be applied in local self-governments," said Jelena Dragić, Head of the Department for Social Activities of the Municipality of Zrenjanin.

The guest lecturers were eminent regional experts on migration issues who, in the first days of the school, provided a theoretical basis for understanding the diaspora phenomenon as a function of development. After that, workshops were organized in the second part of the school where the participants, through practical examples and interactive activities, exchanged their knowledge, ideas and personal experiences from work in this field.

Dražen Bošković, deputy mayor of Trebinje, another participant of the school, stated that "the challenge in cooperation with the diaspora in the municipality of Trebinje is their mapping, because it is necessary to establish the precise number of people who left in different periods and due to different circumstances. It is a necessary base for other activities, which include strengthening the capacity of the local self-government unit for cooperation with the diaspora. This also leads to the opening of a special office, service, unit within the municipality or development agency for cooperation with the diaspora. Another challenge is establishing trust between the motherland and the diaspora, because without that the whole process is in vain."

"The municipality of Rožaje recognized the role and importance of the diaspora for the future development of the municipality, and formed the Office for the diaspora, with the aim of better communication and cooperation. The municipality is connected with associations from the diaspora and prominent businessmen in order to find a common interest and to make the cooperation two-way: in terms of opportunities for investment, but also to create opportunities for return. The diaspora is active, extremely attached to the places of its origin and to its community, in accordance with its possibilities, through various activities, donations and philanthropy, it tries to help. The municipality traditionally organizes diaspora days and strives to make their stay as pleasant and high-quality as possible. Organizing such educational seminars is a significant experience that reminds us, above all, of the open questions of demographic processes taking place in the territory of local self-government. Acquired knowledge and experience, and above all, the adopted way of working through examples of good practices and various interactive workshops lead to the identification of problems, launching initiatives and creating a methodology for mapping the diaspora, as well as finding the common interests of the diaspora and the local community in order to make this cooperation as successful as possible", concluded Emir Kuč, head of the office of the President of the Municipality of Rožaje.

The school represents another in the series of activities of the Faculty of Geography and WB-MIGNET and strives to establish a continuous dialogue between different actors for understanding migration processes. In addition, joint engagement is aimed at highlighting the role of the transnational community in terms of diaspora participation in the development of local communities through poverty reduction, economic development, post-crisis recovery, as well as creating an environment in which the potential of the diaspora can be realized in a sustainable way.

Advocating reforms and facilitating the communication of economic and social change through data, analysis, and publications