Harnessing The Power Of The Global Italian Diaspora How To Strategically Manage A Valuable Asset For The Country-System

 The Position Paper “Harnessing the power of the global Italian diaspora. How to strategically manage a valuable asset for the country-system” will be presented during the “Rethinking globalization” panel. The panelists are Arancha González Laya (Dean, Paris School of International Affairs), Chris Miller (Professor of International History, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University; author of Chip Wars), Joseph Stiglitz (Professor, Columbia University; Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences). Federico Rampini (writer and columnist) will moderate the panel.

The Italian diaspora is a phenomenon of large-scale emigration that occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries, when almost 30 million Italians left the country and, of these, more than 18 million never returned to their homeland. Thanks to the past emigration flows, today, Italy can count on a network of more than 80 million people of Italian origin deeply rooted in a number of key areas of the world, starting from the Americas, but also in Europe or Australia, plus an additional 5.8 million fellow citizens living abroad, who can make their contribution to the communities of Italian emigrants already present, or create new ones.

The global distribution of Italian diaspora helped to spread the Italian “footprint” abroad. In fact, Italian emigrants and their descendants worldwide contribute to promoting Italian identity in different countries and act as a bridge between Italy and rest of the world. In economic terms, it can be estimated that their economic value exceeds 2.5 trillion Euros, of which 93.4 percent of the total refers to Italian descendants in the Americas, the geographical area that hosts the largest number. Italian descendants represent an all-round development opportunity for Italy: promoting the reputation of the country of origin in that of destination is a very important contribution that Italian descendants make to the positioning of “Made in Italy” products; the potential of “roots tourism” can be worth more than 90 billion Euros for Italy (almost 200 billion Euros considering direct and induced effects); training programs in Italy dedicated to diasporic communities can help the country improve its attractiveness and build long-term strategic ties; and the influential role of Italian descendants’ communities in countries of settlement can play a key role in stimulating positive advocacy for Italy.

In recent times, Italy has been studying the role and value of its diaspora in the world, and the issue has received increased recognition on the country’s formal agenda. Countries, such as China and France, have long interpreted their diasporas as levers for growth and development through specific engagement and mobilization strategies. The Position Paper thus identifies specific policy proposals to mobilize the Italian diasporic communities.

An initial point of action to increase the engagement of the Italian diaspora is the promotion of Italy’s image abroad. A second area of intervention is the promotion of the Italian language abroad, which is one of the main instruments of cultural influence available to Italy. An additional important area of improvement involves the issue of dual citizenship which is an essential element of an effective strategy to connect or reconnect with diaspora populations. A fourth sphere of action is the empowerment of the relations between Italy—conceived as the entirety of its governmental and institutional framework at national and regional level—and the associations of Italian diasporic communities in the world. A fifth area of empowerment is the support and development of programs and initiatives in the field of research and education, with the involvement of Italian universities, research facilities and associations of Italian researchers abroad. 

According to Mariangela Zappia, Italian Ambassador to the United States of America, “From our viewpoint in the United States, a nation that is home to over 17 million Italian Americans and continues to welcome thousands of Italians in recent years, to delve into the past and present of Italian diasporas, and to reflect on how to fully untap their potential, is an objective which lies at the core of the Italian Government’s foreign policy, under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tajani. Hence, we warmly welcome the NIAF and The European House – Ambrosetti Position Paper “Harnessing the power of the global Italian diaspora” as a valuable contribution on how to strengthen our engagement with Italian Americans and Italians in the U.S., to the benefit of our extraordinary bilateral partnership.”

According to Lorenzo Tavazzi, Partner and Head of the International Development, The European House – Ambrosetti: “Italy has been and remains a country of high mobility of people and diasporas should no longer be seen as “lost talent”, but as established assets. The Italian diaspora spreads from the Americas, to Europe, Africa and Australia and the success of its integration in the countries of destination helped to root a strong DNA of Italianness. Italy has not paid enough attention to these links and strategies of continuous dialogue between Italy and the communities of its diaspora are needed. In a period of major, profound change the world is experiencing, Italy’s prosperous and sustainable development can be concretely supported by the enhancement and engagement of the community of Italian origin in the world.”

To read this press release in its entirety, visit www.niaf.org.