Published on People Move

Knowledge Delivery on Migration: Lessons from Europe and Central Asia (ECA)

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The call for innovation in assembling and sharing global knowledge has become louder, since World Bank President Jim Kim’s assumption of office.  Interestingly, however, there are many nascent and innovative attempts which are part of “communities of practice” (CoP) across the Bank which can be help learn lessons for effective design and delivery of global knowledge.

MIRPAL is an “external” community of practice (CoP) for knowledge delivery on migration challenges related to economic crises in ECA.  During a July 2009 meeting on the “Moscow Protocol for CIS Migration Management,” migration service representatives and academics from nine CIS countries – Armenia, Belarus, Moldova , Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic,   Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan created the MIRPAL group.

In its first four years, MIRPAL has achieved a lot in terms of knowledge design and delivery. Each year, MIRPAL has held about 10 knowledge sharing video conferences for 300 plus members from the nine countries. MIRPAL has also brought more than 20 global experts to share their knowledge through video conferences and by field visits to advise policy makers in client countries. Starting small with limited resources, today MIRPAL has a million dollar annual program, with continued funding from World Bank internal resources and from the DFID Trust Fund for Central Asian Regional Migration Program (CARMP). In addition, MIRPAL actively collaborates and contributes to migration work of international and regional organizations (IOM, UN, EURASEC, etc.), civil society organizations and national governments.

A Moscow based think tank (Century 21) has acted as the MIRPAL secretariat coordinating member activities. The main MIRPAL websites are managed by the World Bank and Century 21. MIRPAL has collaborated with Century 21 to produce more than 21 issues of Migration 21 magazine, which is an advocacy and knowledge sharing publication. MIRPAL conferences and meetings have been held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Yerevan, Almaty, Bishkek, Isyk Kul, Dushanbe and Washington, DC. The annual conference is held at a venue in the CIS, the most recent of which was held June 13-14, 2013 in St. Petersburg.

MIRPAL primarily does analytical and research work, knowledge management, Technical Assistance, advocacy and outreach, and convenes its annual conferences to help client countries learn and reform migration systems. Most activities are carried out at both country and regional multi-country levels.  MIRPAL has helped design innovative studies and technical assistance programs.

As MIRPAL matures, its next phase will be to deepen country and regional engagements. It should move to effective global knowledge “curation” and influencing reforms, which means strengthening its relationship with Government agencies and strategies. In addition, internally at the World Bank the collaboration with the country units and sector teams needs to be strengthened, so that, when relevant, World Bank supported programs address migration concerns.

Despite slow start and limited resource support, World Bank management remains interested in supporting MIRPAL’s work. Over the last four years MIRPAL has gained more recognition both inside and outside the CIS region as an innovative CoP. Recent reviews of MIRPAL by an independent evaluation have clearly demonstrated the value of MIRPAL as a knowledge platform, leading to additional funding for expansion.

As MIRPAL continues to grow, it needs to prepare a clear demand-driven work program and create a stable and formal global knowledge sharing platform. The MIRPAL knowledge platform should continue to be a market place for sharing good practices both inside and outside the Bank. The possibilities are endless.


Sudharshan Canagarajah

Practice Manager, Strategy and Knowledge, Climate Change Group, World Bank

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