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Diasporas scientifiques

Rémi Barré
Valeria Hernández
Jean-Baptiste Meyer
et al.

English Version


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11. Take the "diaspora option", i.e. Publicly state the principle that S&T diasporas are actors in co-development in the scientific and technical arenas, and declare the principle of an official policy of support for S&T diasporas. This should be essentially a policy of facilitation, not one of substituting for actors in the host country, home country and S&T diaspora.

22. Consider the design of such a policy as an experimental, pioneering process based on protocols that allow for monitoring, evaluation and accumulation of results. Set up a system for monitoring, surveys and research into the S&T diaspora phenomenon, with a special effort to produce data and indicators on the international mobility of S&T actors.

33. In the course of this, pay special attention to:

  • questions of complementarity and linkages with other instruments of S&T co-operation and immigration policy (especially linkages with FORIM, the forum of migrants' associations in France);
  • the matter of consistency between different operations concerning the same country, and synchronising schedules;
  • practical ways and means for supporting S&T diasporas, based on proposals from the diasporas themselves and their home countries;
  • the role of S&T actors in France, particularly those in research bodies and higher education institutions.

44. Examine the possibility of creating an S&T diaspora "incubator" which would:

  • provide a place for gathering the data on highly skilled migrant populations in France that are lacking at present: statistics, place of origin and place of work, occupational category etc.;
  • act as a French link for diaspora networks and a place for research on the phenomenon: the “incubator” could host such functions as monitoring, evaluation, promotion and communications between networks without necessarily managing them itself;
  • provide support services for developing S&T diasporas through pooled administrative management, databases and communication infrastructures.

5The incubator would run databases and knowledge banks on skills available in-country and among migrants, on possible careers for trainee S&T actors and on research projects under way. It would handle data storage, knowledge management, capitalisation of numerous scattered experiences. It could also constitute a facilitation structure for S&T diasporas and a pooled resource centre. It would provide a permanent line of communication with research bodies, universities, business, the media etc. Sources of finance for particular projects could be systematically explored there. Assessment of operations would also be organised there and the results stored there.

6The incubator could be supported in the same way as the startup incubators set up under the 1999 law on innovation.

75. Encourage and help partner countries to set up operational units that would keep data on expatriate skills and provide links with local development needs. These units could be designed as instruments to help regionalise collaboration initiatives among S&T diasporas, local partners and host countries. They could also be incorporated into South-South co-operation policy, e.g. An African unit could be twinned with an Asian one and a Latin American one, to give each one the benefit of the others' experiences, resources and practical results.

86. Support S&T diasporas' initiatives so that they can go beyond voluntary work, which often limits efficiency. Professionalisation should be encouraged. For example, scientists and engineers could be temporarily released by their employing institutions on the same basis as those whose are involved in forming a business, under the 1999 law on innovation.

97. Consider ICT to be an essential feature of future S&T diasporas development and therefore regard it as an integral aspect of future national and international public policies. The ZSP countries must not be left out of the international structuring of major telecommunications highways. Launch a variety of experimental networking spaces suitable for S&T diasporas, in liaison with French and European research programmes. Promote the cultural, organisational and institutional aspects of running online networks.

10Study how advances in ICT and its uses can open up new spaces for S&T diasporas1 activities. A check-list of instruments useful to S&T diasporas would be very useful.

118. The European Commission's 6th framework programme for research and technological development offers both conventional means of scientific and technical co-operation and some new possibilities.

  • The INCO 3 programme (specific measures in support of international co-operation), with a budget of 315 million euros, follows on from earlier programmes (STD and INCO 1 and 2) with third countries (developing countries, Mediterranean zone, Eastern Europe, Russia, Balkans). All these programmes can be used by diaspora groups to provide partners in their countries of origin with fresh resources.
  • Some actions under the Marie Curie programme can be directly used by S&T diasporas for their activities:

12"Incoming international fellowships" explicitly offer the possibility of financing reintegration in the country of origin for researchers from "developing or intermediate countries"; this provides makes real circulation possible, avoiding the danger of uprooting scientists institutionally and intellectually;

  • "International reintegration grants" provide the same possibility in the other direction, enabling foreign researchers settled in an EU country to work for several years in their home country and receive a reintegration grant on their return to the host country.
  • Lastly, we could explore the possibility of submitting a proposal for an "integrated project" on the subject in liaison with the EU countries' main development agencies.

139. Take an active part in existing international programmes and favour co-ordination among them:

  • TOKTEN (Transfer of Knowledge Through Expatriate Nationals) under UNDP;
  • MIDA (Migration for Development in Africa) under the IOM;
  • MIDA-Health under the WHO;
  • ALAS (Association of Latin-American Scientists) and TALVEN (Talentos Venezuela) under Unesco;
  • Development Marketplace (business networks) under the World Bank;
  • Asian Development Bank's assessment of S&T diaspora networks.

1410. Start by giving this new component in S&T co-operation policy a certain visibility by announcing it through a symposium attended by all the actors concerned, with workshops to start examining the feasibility of these recommendations.

© IRD Éditions, 2003

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