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



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

Successful Start of the Migration Lab in Berlin

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 main goal of the Migration Lab ist to enable new perspectives and co-create ideas and practices towards a migration that benefits all actors in society. 

Insight report: 1st lab meeting in Germany, Berlin, from 19th to 22nd October 2017

Together Understand

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.

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 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 report: 2nd lab meeting in Rabat, Morocco, from 15th to 18th February 2018

Together Initiate Proposals

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.”


As part of the learning immersions, a key aspect of our Labs, encounters were organized with three local institutions engaged in migration related work.

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.

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.

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.

Before the 3rd and final Lab meeting in May in Ecuador, participants will work on more detailed drafts of their project proposals, which will be supported through coaching calls by the facilitators. Throughout the whole Lab meeting, participants also tackled the question of the future of the Migration Lab – how can that which makes the Lab successful and enriching be sustained and put to potential for the GFMD, the GCM and migration that is of benefit to all? One thing is for sure, as one participant put it: “The method of working together, experienced during these first two Lab meetings, will live on.”

On behalf of

In partnership with