In Ecuador in 2014, the Decentralised Autonomous Government of the Province of Imbabura (GADPI) and its provincial government (Patronato Provincial) embarked on a process to mainstream migration into local development planning. The government wished to address the complex migration dynamics of the region, which included a large presence of Colombian refugees, many immigrants, as well as returning migrants. To address this, the government chose to mainstream migration into local development planning in order to design and implement effective policies and programmes that would protect the rights of migrants and displaced persons and ensure their access to services, as well as provide them with more opportunities and empowerment. The project started before the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and, thus, was not conducted under an SDG-related framework. However, the outputs of its migration interventions contribute to several Goals and targets, and have since been mapped to various SDGs. The process was carried out with the support of the UN Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI) within the framework of the project “Strengthening the Decentralised Autonomous Governments (GADs) of the Northern Zone of Ecuador on Human Mobility Issues”.
- Participatory kick-off activities: Kicking off by carrying out various participatory processes to take stock of migration and development priorities in the area.
- Institutional set up: Establishing appropriate bodies and several inter-institutional coordination mechanisms to manage the mainstreaming process.
- Migration mainstreaming: Designing and implementing various policies and programmes relating to migration and development in the region, through mainstreaming migration into different government units’ planning.
To conduct a needs assessment to determine the exact requirements of the mainstreaming process, a participatory process of direct public consultation was launched. This entailed holding several public assemblies. At these assemblies, people from the Imbabura Province were gathered to share their specific needs and issues. Care was taken to include certain priority attention groups, such as children, young people, the elderly and migrants and displaced persons.
Institutional Set Up
In 2015, the Human Mobility Unit (HMU) was created. This saw the inclusion of a dedicated technical team in the provincial government’s payroll, charged with supporting and complimenting work of the various units in government regarding the migration mainstreaming process, and promoting inter-institutional coordination. Following this, the provincial government developed the “Ordinance for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Migrants, Displaced Persons, and their Family Members in the Province of Imbabura”, which declared the promotion and protection of the rights of migrants and displaced persons as public policy, and established the HMU as the agency responsible for coordination and implementation.
The provincial government mapped out various public and private actors working with migrants in the province. Following this, it was possible to coordinate with other national actors – such as the Ministries of Public Health, Economic and Social Inclusion, Education, and Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility – to move various interventions forward to protect and uphold the rights of migrants.
Interventions: Mainstreaming Migration
Numerous government units across sectors mainstreamed migration into their planning in different ways. The other units within the provincial government, including Food Sovereignty, Health Services, and Domestic Violence and Disability, started including migrants and displaced persons as their beneficiaries. To do so, these units integrated new targets into their programming that related to migrants and their needs. Other examples of activities launched included those aiming to create economic opportunities for migrants. These included entrepreneurship fairs, training in crafts, and support for the management of migrant micro-enterprises.
Finally, the provincial government also promoted direct participation as a way to ensure the political inclusion of migrants and displaced persons. In this regard, migrants and displaced persons were encouraged to actively participate in political decision-making spaces.
The project as a whole succeeded in mainstreaming migration into public policies across sectors in Imbabura. While migration mainstreaming processes tend to take place at the national level, it is at the local level where these can have the most impact. This example shows how doing so can help serve specific needs of migrant populations, as well as involve them directly in the process. The mainstreaming process in Imbabura helped make progress towards several SDG targets. For example, target 10.3 (ensuring equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome), 10.7 (facilitating orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people), 16.B (promoting non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development), 17.14 (enhancing policy coherence for sustainable development), and 17.16 (enhancing the global partnership for sustainable development).