Migration and development? They are more connected than ever


The NGOs of the Link 2007 network studied the connection between migration and development. This analysis gave rise to the ‘A Brighter Future’ project, which aims to reconcile the needs of potential migrants with the requirements of destination and origin societies.

A careful analysis of the nexus between migration and development can overcome the short-term visions that dominate the policies of Western governments. The NGOs of the Link 2007 network explored this connection and formulated a proposal that could improve living conditions in West Africa. The project is called ‘A Brighter Future’, and was presented on 16 May at Codeway Expo 2024, the Italian cooperation fair in Rome.

Migration is closely linked to development processes and is an integral part of the economic, social and cultural systems of the communities involved. The ‘A Brighter future’ programme aims to strengthen opportunities to develop skills, access formal employment and engage in income- and job-generating activities, becoming agents of change in their communities and reducing the number of people embarking on irregular and risky migration paths in favour of regular migration options that are more coherent with the needs of the destination societies.

The project addresses a crucial issue: reconciling the needs of potential migrants with the needs of destination and origin societies. ‘We must not intervene to solve the problem of migration, but to be effective on the dynamics of migration and development,’ explains Sandro De Luca, director of Cisp- Comitato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo dei Popoli, an organisation that is part of Link 2007. In short, it is not a question of limiting the migratory phenomenon or ‘helping them at home’, approaches that have not worked so far, but of making migration a manageable and, so to speak, normal phenomenon. “A system of opportunities must be created in the countries of origin to generate possibilities for training, income generation and business creation. Within these opportunities there must also be regular migration. Today, a young person who decides to migrate does so with a desperate choice, because he has no other options and sees as his only possibility that of placing himself in the hands of human traffickers,’ De Luca concludes.

There are three areas of intervention of ‘A Brighter future’:

1 Regular migration paths, recognised and promoted as a development opportunity by all countries involved.

2 Strengthening conditions to enable young people from the countries of origin and members of the diaspora in Italy to contribute to economic development and meet market demands.

3 To strengthen collaboration between stakeholders in the target countries and develop operational synergies between actors promoting youth opportunities and local development.

In order to achieve its objectives, ‘A Brighter Future’ proposes, in short, highly articulated modes of intervention, which rely on partnerships between governments and local actors, NGOs and international organisations, diasporas, microfinance, businesses and trainers. The ultimate goal is to improve employment opportunities for young people, while always pursuing sustainable development. Considering also that the migration phenomenon is not limited to movements between the south and north of the Mediterranean. On the contrary, as Jean Leonard Touadi, Professor of geography of development in Africa at ‘La Sapienza’ in Rome, pointed out, movements ‘are 80% internal to the African continent’.

‘We are at a stage where a change of pace and a programme of a certain size can be realised, with the certainty of achieving impact,’ says Roberto Ridolfi, president of Link 2007. ‘This would also have an extraordinary value and political significance, because it would show that considering this nexus migration and development is an advantage and benefit for all.’ ‘A Brighter Future’ stems from Link 2007’s reflection on the experiences gained over many years, “but”, warns Ridolfi, “we have to take on the complexity of reality and accept that our rationality cannot govern everything, renouncing one-size-fits-all solutions and expectations of short-term impact”. For the president of Link 2007, moreover, dialogue cannot only be institutional, but must enter at the community level, while cooperation must stop aiming at solving the migration ‘problem’ if it wants to take a step forward.

‘This is a model that can be implemented immediately,’ explains Annachiara Moltoni, director of Elis ong, another of the realities that are part of Link 2007, ‘which allows us to offer concrete employment opportunities both in the local labour market and in the foreign labour market, providing young people with a toolbox to face the future with a systemic approach. One has to imagine the globalised market as a system of communicating vessels, where pressure is taken off one side and jobs are created on the other. The private sector, local, Italian and European companies, and the individual himself, with his expectations, are also very important in this project’.During the launch, moreover, the perspective of the business world was not lacking. For Letizia Pizzi, Director General of Confindustria Assafrica & Mediterraneo, ‘the concept that companies are actors of development and therefore also actors of cooperation, is now well established’, and ‘Italian companies are aware that they must work with local partners’.

Gabriele Carchella-Link 2007

The article was published in VITA HERE