On 17-18 November 2022, ICMPD and SOLIDAR co-organised a SPRING workshop taking place in Brussels, Belgium, focusing on good practices in the integration of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers and improved integration outcomes through mutual learning.
In the past years and decades, Europe has seen an intensification and upscaling of existing integration practices, as well as increased mainstreaming of integration services into standard social services. This year authorities, civil society, the private sector, and individuals mobilised an amazing level of support for people fleeing war in Ukraine. New actors and initiatives emerged in major destination countries - many with relatively limited knowledge and experience in integration until now.
Against this background, the workshop addressed the questions of how to bridge the research-practice gap, how to better utilise the knowledge and experience gathered so far, and how to make good practices transferable and scalable. The workshop brought together over 40 researchers and practitioners, providing them with a space for networking and mutual exchange and engaging them in lively discussions.
Participants discussed co-production approaches between practitioners and researchers, highlighting, inter alia, that researchers and practitioners need to work together to inform institutional actors about “realities” and in doing so be more courageous in articulating challenges that need to be addressed; involving practitioners in all stages of the research cycle can help to make practice more relevant to research and research more relevant to practice; the need for funding schemes that support inter-sectoral research projects and long-term cooperation, and that provide for the flexibility to react to the emerging needs of practitioners.
On the second day of the workshop, participants discussed sustainable and transferable integration practices, highlighting, inter alia, that the transfer of good practices requires a flexible approach, drawing inspiration from widely differing ideas through mutual learning and personal contacts and adapting them to the local context; that there is a need to focus more on the "little practices" at the local level that can easily be adapted and that require less time and funding – while still making a big change; and that political will is a precondition for the transfer of good practices, while inspiration from practices that work may enhance the political will.
The workshop took place as part of the Sustainable Practices of Integration (SPRING) project. The project is funded by Horizon 2020 and gathers available research and evidence on integration in the context of the large-scale movements of refugees and other migrants to Europe since 2014.
The results of the workshop will feed into a policy brief that will be published at the beginning of 2023.