• IOM,  with other stakeholders in the countries of the Dutch Caribbean, presented and participated in a two-day symposium to explore policy options to optimize the benefits and minimize the costs of migration in relation to sustainable socioeconomic development of the three Dutch Caribbean countries.


9-10 May 2019. Willemstad, Curaçao. A Symposium on Migration and Socioeconomic Development, Policy Challenges and Options was hosted by the Social and Economic Councils of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten on May 9 and 10 of 2019 in Curaçao, where representatives of IOM, participated as keynote speakers, presenting topics on maximizing the benefits of migration, engagement in the formal labor force, and regional cooperation opportunities in the Caribbean region.


Together with other stakeholders, they worked to explore policy options to optimize the benefits and minimize the costs of labour migration in relation to sustainable socioeconomic development of the three countries.


When addressing how the countries can better engage regionally, Brendan Tarnay noted that “in an isolated region, with geographically isolated islands, with a government that has isolated ministries that don’t share or cooperate with each other, development can be difficult. With migration, it is imperative to overcome this isolation and put migration on the table as a cross-cutting issue to be addressed across ministries and departments in a whole of government approach.”

The conference was developed after the Dutch Caribbean countries agreed that cooperation between them was necessary since they face similar issues in the areas of population policy and socioeconomic development. Some of the main challenges identified are: prolonged stagnating economies, increased aging, brain drain, a social welfare system under pressure, an unbalanced labour market, the socioeconomic crisis in Venezuela and the issue of irregular migrants in general.


“The islands can support each other in the field of developing strategic migration policies, based on lessons learned and best practice of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the region and elsewhere”, stated the Social Economic Council on a press release.


During the symposium the following topics were addressed:

  • Opportunities and challenges of migration (management): myths and misconceptions; controversies, the liberal paradox; changing the narrative.
  • Migration and sustainable development: (global and regional) evidence-based findings on the relationship between migration and sustainable socio-economic development. How to optimize the benefits and minimize the costs.
  • (Global) Trends in labour migration policies and refugee policies: lessons learned on effectiveness of policies & best practices.
  • Caribbean perspective on effective migration policies. How can we best govern migration to enhance socio-economic development?

The keynote speakers that participated in this event were Michela Macchiavello, Senior Regional Specialist on Labour Migration and Human Development, from the International Organization for Migration (IOM); Brendan Tarnay, Sub-Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean (IOM); among other stakeholders such as the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), UNHCR, the Canadian Embassy in Bogota, the University of Curaçao, the University of Sint Maarten and the Think To DO Institute.


The presentations were followed by plenary sessions, Q&A sessions and panel discussions, parallel breakout sessions on specific policy themes, and a final panel discussion.


More information can be found on the website of SER Aruba, SER Curaçao, and SER Sint Maarten (www.ser.aw / www.ser.cw / www.sersxm.org ). Or, you can contact us at: cmc@iom.int