The Migration Laboratory

Going beyond “us” and “them”: Towards a Migration that benefits all

Human mobility is an increasingly important global reality­ that affects the present and future of both deve­loping and developed countries. The Agenda 2030 acknowledges that international migration­ and brain circulation offer significant development ­opportunities for origin and receiving societies as well as for the migrants themselves. At the same time there are also risks, especially if migration is not properly managed.

The Migration Laboratory brings together international thought leaders from different sectors to enable new perspectives and to facilitate the co-creation of ideas and innovative practices guided by the core question: “How can we act together across sectors so that migration is beneficial for all actors in society?”

Dates and Locations

“In the process of being immersed into the Laboratory I said: This is different. There’s more potential in this one, because after the talk there is a passion for everyone to do the walking and make tangible changes.”

Levinson C. Alcantara, Philippines



Participants will come from relevant sectors such as government, private sector and civil society.



Bangladesh, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Mexico, the Republic of Moldova, Morocco, the Philippines, Sweden, Switzerland and selected stakeholders from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Lab Impressions

Voices from the Migration Laboratory

The process

The Migration Lab is based on the understanding that the collective experience from diverse perspectives is needed in order to comprehensively work towards a migration that benefits all. Building on this understanding, this multi-stakeholder dialogue process makes space for new perspectives, enables mutual understanding and builds bridges beyond institutionally and sector-specifically defined responses. It aims at providing opportunities to explore critical challenges and stakeholder relations in the field of migration and development, allowing for a new and systemic understanding of the field.

The Migration Lab will foster profound reflection, expe­rien­tial learning, and tangible action to empower participants to significantly further their work and that of their home organizations. It will provide a space for dialogue, experimentation and collaboration aiming at five key objectives:

  • To engage critically with the challenges and potentials of ensuring that migration is beneficial for all actors in society
  • To bring diverse interests in the migration system into dialogue and support a better understanding of mutual perspectives
  • To encourage cross-sectoral collaboration and new forms of cooperation on concrete change initiatives tackling critical issues in the field
  • To foster a global network of change agents
  • To impact upon national and global discourses on migration

The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) has been successful in trust-building between and among stakeholders, international organizations, the civil society and private sector in the past. Within the framework of the GFMD and on behalf of the Federal Government of Germany – as Co-Chair of the 2017 GFMD Summit – the ­Global Leadership Academy and the Sector Project Migration and Development of German Development Cooperation (GIZ) are launching the unique Migration Laboratory. Between the GFMD Summits 2017 in Germany and 2018 in Morocco, the Migration Lab will provide safe spaces for exchange outside of the structural and power-related limitations that mark most institutional and systemic ­contexts.

Insight Reports

The Migration Lab process consists of three face-to-face-meetings, each guided by specific principles:  

  • Labmeeting 1: Together Understand

  • Labmeeting 2: Together Initiate Proposals

  • Labmeeting 3: Together Support and Monitor

Insight, Lab meeting 1: Together Understand

Berlin in Germany, from 19th to 22nd October 2017

31 Change Agents, representing the public, private, and civil society sector from 18 countries met at the Sharehaus Refugio in Berlin, Neukölln, to kick off the first meeting of the Migration Laboratory from 19th to 22nd October 2017. The first Migration Lab meeting was designed to introduce the theme, the facilitators – Peter Garrett and Jane Ball, the Lab methodology, and the participants to each other. The different modes of conversation – ranging from monologue to generative dialogue – were introduced and utilized, in order to create an awareness for how the way we interact hinders or fosters good quality results and to generate a common understanding of the challenges in the field of migration.


Together, the Lab group explored the following topics:

· Drivers of migration
· Migration pathways
· Contributions of migrants

In that sense, the location for the first Lab at the Sharehaus Refugio in Berlin, provided the perfect setting and surrounding, not only because it was perceived as an innovative and safe space by the participants but also in relation to the Lab topic. More than 40 people from all over the world occupy five floors of the house. They live and work together in addition to searching for a new life and meaningful community. The Sharehaus Refugio runs a coffee shop, provides a catering service, organizes events for locals and newcomers to meet, and helps the newcomers learn German and integrate on all levels.


Learning Immersions of the 1st Lab meeting …

Interkulaar and Bantabaa

Based on the Global Leadership Academy’s principles on learning immersions, the first Lab meeting included encounters with two organizations dealing with issues of migration, Interkular and Bantabaa. Interkular is a social enterprise, which finds and promotes the potentials of young people of all origins by cooperating with local offices, employers, neighborhoods and the civil society. A special feature of Interkular is the engagement of so-called “perspective coaches” in order to avoid intercultural misunderstandings. Perspective coaches are persons who came to Berlin a while ago as migrants or refugees and are now employed by Interkular to coach other migrants and refugees. The second organization the Lab participants visited was Bantabaa, an integration project that serves as a meeting point for refugees around Görlitzer Park in Berlin Kreuzberg, focusing on education and jobs in the catering sector. In both encounters, the Migration Lab participants engaged in conversations with migrants working with the organisations, allowing them to get first-hand experience and insights on the drivers and motivations of migrants and refugees throughout their migration process. The learning immersions with migrants in Berlin were complemented by an encounter with Berlin citizens working in the political and administrative field of migration: State Secretary for Integration Daniel Tietze (Left Party), Stephan von Dassel (Green Party), Mayor of the District Berlin Mitte, and Cordula Simon, Director Innovation and Integration, District Authority of Berlin Neukölln. Together with the Lab participants, they discussed good practices for successful integration of migrants into the local community.


The musical “Hoch Hinaus”

The Lab program also included the musical “Hoch Hinaus”, a co-creation of German teenagers and refugees living in Germany, implemented by the group PluralArts.
As the first Labmeeting came to a close, participants prepared the bridge phase up to the second meeting in March 2018. Amongst others, they proposed thematic clusters to address specific migration issues in their home countries. These included:

  • Improving conditions of migrants within every phase of the migration cycle
  • Impacting the migration and development narratives
  • High skilled migration Domestic migrant workers
  • Linking diaspora, startups, and entrepreneurships

Other participants will engage and involve people locally on the issue of migration and organize learning immersions and dialogues in order to understand different perspectives on migration in their home countries as well as to tackle the different narratives on migration.



Insight, Lab meeting 2: Together Initiate Proposals

Rabat in Morocco, from 15th to 18th February 2018

The theme of the second Migration Laboratoy meeting was Together initiate proposals. It was based on the first meeting’s topic Together understand migration.


The Dialogic modes introduced in the first meeting were complemented by the facilitators, Jane Ball and Peter Garrett, with Dialogic Actions: Move, Follow, Oppose, and Bystand – laying the basis for constructive and inclusive conversations that helps undertake participatory change with people – rather than imposing change by doing it to people. As one participant put it: “The skills learned during the Lab help me to have a constructive dialogue in challenging environments.” The Dialogic Actions also helped Lab participants to find common purpose and understanding, resulting in seven tangible project proposals aimed at tackling the question of how migration can be beneficial to all actors in society. Several participants appreciated the creative spirit: “The Migration Lab really allows us to think out of the box.”


Learning Immersions of the 2nd Lab meeting …

On community development and integration

The Fondation Orient-Occident (FOO) – a Moroccan non-profit organization – working with young Sub-Saharan migrants and refugees in Morocco, addressing their difficulties in arriving and integrating in Morocco, was the first organization visited, and where participants interacted with the beneficiaries, in the process learning the importance of designing projects addressing both local and newcomer populations equally to avoid social tensions.


On attracting high-skilled migrants

The Moroccan Association for Scientific Innovation and Research (MASciR), a research lab established by the Ministry of Industry Trade, Investment and the Digital Economy, and the International University of Rabat (UIR), the first public-private partnership in the field of higher education in Morocco were visited to gain insights on the strategies adopted to attract high-skilled diaspora and international talent to the country. The key learning for participants was of the need for creating new environments for high-skilled diaspora, similar to the opportunities available to them in destination countries.


On business, entrepreneurship, and reintegration of Diaspora entrepreneurs

The PME Business Incubator commissioned by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and implemented by GIZ, where participants interacted with two Moroccan entrepreneur returnees from Germany who shared their experience on reintegration after many years abroad and setting up a business in Morocco, with the key learning on the importance of effectively tapping high potential members of diaspora.



Insight, Lab meeting 3: Together Support and Monitor

Quito in Ecuador, from 10th to 13rd May 2018

The third meeting of the Migration Lab themed “Together support and monitor the progress of the proposals” took place in Quito, Ecuador, from 10 to 13 May 2018. This last Lab session allowed participants to concretize their proposals in the context of migration and development and to think ahead on their proposals’ implementation. Furthermore, the future of the Migration Lab was a topic raised and discussed by the participants throughout this Lab meeting.


Methodologically, the Lab meeting in Quito built upon the Dialogic Modes and the Dialogic Actions (Move, Follow, Oppose and Bystand) introduced in the previous Lab sessions. Applying these skills allowed the participants to constructively use the most helpful mode and laid the basis for the successful development of the proposals.

The concretized seven project proposals aim at putting the objectives of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) and the migration-related goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into action. They tackle the issues of reintegration, public narratives, protection for vulnerable migrants, migration data collection and analysis as well as the involvement of the private sector. They are to be presented at the 11th Summit Meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in Marrakesh in December 2018.


Learning Immersions of the 3rd Lab meeting …

During the learning immersions, an integral part of our Labs, participants engaged with representatives of the Ecuadorian Administration, thereby fostering in-depth dialogue with local actors in the field of migration and development. The participants visited the Department for Human Mobility of the Province of Pichincha, meeting with migrants from Venezuela and Colombia who receive services. The second learning immersion took the Lab group to the local administration of the canton Pedro Moncayo, where discussions focused particularly on the regularization policies that allow Venezuelans and Colombians who live in irregularity (i.e. without a visa) to work. Regarding the future of the Migration Lab, the participants collectively decided upon a publication on the value of the Migration Lab. Its purpose should be to promote the use of multi-stakeholder gatherings and Professional Dialogue as a way to implement global policy frameworks, including the project proposals as practical examples for the impact generated by the approach.

The last Lab meeting of the Migration Lab concluded with an appreciative check-out ceremony, allowing the participants to acknowledge each other and to share thoughts on the process with the group. Participants reflected on the Lab “I think this is a unique opportunity to really bundle the expertise of the different sectors”, “I learned how to have a true interaction and meaningful conversation”, their personal development “[t]he Lab was like a healing process”, and the outcomes of the year-long process: “At the Lab, I see a potential by which things can be done. I see a group that can actually break away from the norm and put things into action.”



Project proposals

The Business without Borders Group focusses on increasing the use and perception of migration and migrants as an engine of economic growth. They aim at using the Business Mechanism of the GFMD for advocacy but also for serving as a de-facto think-tank. This think-tank should undertake research and analysis of the intersections between migration and economic growth and propose evidence-based research policy directions to decision-makers.

If you are interested in joining the group in their efforts or want to know more about their work, please contact them at

This project aims at involving the variety of stakeholders from governments, civil society and business community present at the GFMD in a deeper Dialogue and collaboration among each other and other actors to implement solutions to common challenges. The group believes that the GFMD should sharpen its character as a platform for effective Dialogue by e.g. strengthening diversity and inclusiveness within GFMD or strengthening the effectiveness of the GFMD Dialogue formats.

If you are interested in joining the group in their efforts or want to know more about their work, please contact them at

Migration Intelligence is a process that can improve skills for smart migration data collection and analysis. To provide understanding of special situations or different themes, this approach convenes a powerful learning process for stakeholders, increasing both skills and capacity.

If you are interested in joining the group in their efforts or want to know more about their work, please contact them at

The Narrative Group focusses on changing the widely acknowledged domination of negative narratives of people on the move. The group aims at identifying and analyzing common positive and negative narratives across regions and population segments introducing a new method to craft a positive image of migrants, refugees and their families: creating narratives based on the values of the stakeholders they want to engage, and inspired by the rule of law, democracy, human rights and human dignity.  

If you are interested in joining the group in their efforts or want to know more about their work, please contact them at

The Global Migration and Development Academy Group aims at addressing the gap in the implementation of policies on migration and development (MnD) among government, business, international development agencies, NGOs and diaspora organizations. They will develop Global Classrooms that initially focus on trainings to assist participants in developing and implementing programs. 

If you are interested in joining the group in their efforts or want to know more about their work, please contact them at

The Migrants’ Protection Umbrella Group aims at creating indicators that can provide stakeholders with a wider lens for viewing migration and providing appropriate protection initiatives in a more comprehensive and coherent manner. With such evidence-based indicators, there is an opportunity to create targeted policy recommendations and program designs that address migration realities effectively.

If you are interested in joining the group in their efforts or want to know more about their work, please contact them at

The Private Sector Mentoring Group focusses on establishing mentorship programs that would have the potential to address the lack of viable economic opportunities in some regions of the Global South. There is growing interest among diaspora and migrant communities in seeking economic and business opportunities in their countries of origin and/or heritage. Furthermore, the private sector and government development agencies both increasingly focus on entrepreneurship that fosters job creation and local development.

If you are interested in joining the group in their efforts or want to know more about their work, please contact them at

The Migration and Cities Group aims at learning from good practice examples of how cities and municipal authorities manage migration and in particular socio-economic integration of migrants across the Mediterranean region. They plan to do so by organizing e.g. a series of round table meetings in an effort to strengthen local and national planning and policy processes.

If you are interested in joining the group in their efforts or want to know more about their work, please contact them at

“The  Lab helped us to get a deeper grasp of what’s going on in migration – because everyone has his/her own particular perspective. Here, we started to understand the complexity of migration issues and to become a little bit more humble about our own opinions.”

Ilyas Azzioui, Morocco

Publication on the value and potential »A different way of working«


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