© AFP (Archiv)
What kind of economic impact do migration and refugee movements such as those in relation to the crises in Afghanistan, Syria, or Venezuela have?
How do refugees inform themselves and how well does integration work? What is the relationship between climate change and migration? Numerous researchers are currently debating these question in Belval, in the context of the International Conference on Migration and Development, organised by the World Bank and the French Development Agency. The Conference's 14th edition is taking place in Luxembourg in cooperation with Uni.lu and LISER.
According to Professor Michel Beine from the University of Luxembourg, one of the Conference's co-organisers, migration is "one of the facets of globalisation".
Another facet is commerce. Commerce is very different from migration, Professor Beine explains, as with commerce, goods are the main thing crossing borders. Goods "don't have personalities", which, according to Professor Beine, means that someone who goes shopping and buys a Chinese or American smartphone first and foremost simply considers it as a smartphone.
This is different for humans, with people often reacting in a very emotional way and some in a negative way as well. While this is not easy to change, researchers are pursuing various approaches.
Professor Beine points out that there have been studies that showed that if locals living in an area that was receiving immigrants directly interacted with them and got to know them, the large majority of residents discovered that the immigrants were not so different from them, changing their entire perception of the issue.
Aline Muller, General Director of the Institute for Socio-Economic Research (LISER), explains that research into these types of topics has significantly improved over the past years in Luxembourg. Muller thinks that the conference is a good way of presenting that progress, adding that the researchers' observations could also help politicians take more informed decisions.
Muller argues that since Luxembourg has the necessary expertise at its disposal, it is the researchers' "responsibility" to offer it to the authorities to allow them to take more effective decisions.
To this end, Minister for Development Cooperation Franz Fayot also participated in the conference. 1% of the state budget is earmarked for development cooperation and humanitarian aid.
Fayot remarked that while the OECD regularly evaluates a country's projects, significantly increasing cooperation with researchers would definitely be worth considering, in particular to assess the impact of the policies and projects in the specific countries.