In November, UNHCR and the Migration Policy Group (MPG) launched the Toolkit for Effective Inclusion and Integration of Refugees in Estonia, the fifth country in the Nordic and Baltic region.
With the aim to help and guide integration actors develop effective inclusion and integration programmes, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has rolled out a comprehensive integration toolkit together with the MPG. Since 2021, the toolkit has been translated and launched in five countries across the Nordic and Baltic region, most recently in November in Estonia.
In recent years, many countries have seen an increase of integration and inclusion initiatives, but at the same time, local actors and municipal authorities have been lacking practical and universal guidance on how to adapt different services and integration practices. UNHCR and MGP, the creators of the Toolkit, saw that stakeholders often struggled with translating integration programs into effective solutions and solid practices and wanted to fill this gap.
Local authorities, service providers, civil society and refugee-led organizations across Europe have been included in the process of developing the Toolkit. The result is an efficient and user-friendly tool for the practitioners. After field testing in several European countries, the Toolkit has so far been launched in Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, and Lithuania in the Nordic and Baltic region.
The Toolkit was introduced in Lithuania in 2022 at an event with more than 150 participants. With the influx of refugees from Ukraine, which has almost doubled the number of foreigners in Lithuania and impacted all municipalities, the need for development of integration policies and measures have only become more urgent, explains Laura Perevičiūtė, Head of Foreigners integration unit at Ministry of Social Security and Labour in Lithuania.
“The Ministry appreciates the expertise provided by UNHCR and the toolkit developed, as these are tools that may have a great impact on the quality and the pace of the development of local integration services,” says Laura Perevičiūtė.
The Toolkit is designed with a handbook, including precise guidelines in order to support local actors in creating approaches that focuses on refugee inclusion and integration. Stakeholders and participants can use the Toolkit to better analyze their practices, reflect on the results, and conclude on what type of methods are effective and can be transferred into other settings.
The Toolkit also includes an interactive, digital version of the handbook with the possibility to complete self-assessment checklists and a digital scorecard. This allows local actors to get a clear criterion for identifying good methods and an easily accessible tool for evaluating integration and inclusion practices by means of a scoring system.
In Finland, the Toolkit was launched in 2022 in corporation with the Ministry of Economy and Employment and the Migration Institute.
“We are happy that the toolkit was developed as a genuinely practical and versatile resource for municipalities and other local actors for planning, monitoring, and evaluating their services and practices. Although the toolkit is intended for the use of local actors, it can also be helpful tool for regional and national integration actors,” says Specialist Nanni Tuominen from the Ministry of Economy and Employment in Finland.
After the rollout in several European countries, UNHCR hopes that more countries will follow in the future – and that the toolkit will not only guide to effective inclusion and integration, but also provide an opportunity to share good ideas, experiences, and projects.
Read the Handbook in your preferred language here.
The article was updated in November 2023.