SPEC Webinar 7 - Seeking Economic Inclusion for Refugees: A Case Study of the Graduation Approach in Ecuador

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Australia - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, DFAT
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR

There are currently more than 21 million refugees globally, nearly a third of whom are caught in a situation of protracted displacement. It is increasingly evident that a short-term humanitarian response is inadequate. Instead, a growing global consensus recognises that displacement requires a joint humanitarian and development response, underpinned by long-term planning and programming for solutions, and led by a broad coalition of actors, including governments. In response, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has begun collaborating with development actors to bridge this gap and ensure that refugees - in particular, extremely poor ones - are not left behind.

With support from Trickle Up, in 2013 UNHCR adopted the graduation approach as a vehicle to enhance international protection and improve refugees’ prospects for solutions in Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Egypt; since then the partnership has expanded to four additional countries in Africa. Through the graduation approach, UNHCR and its partners set out to strengthen self-reliance and resilience among refugees and host community members living in extreme poverty. By building economic inclusion, refugees are empowered and enabled to live more independently of external assistance; access stabilized means for living; and contribute to the local economy, while preparing themselves to take advantage of whatever solution ultimately becomes available.

Join us for an interactive discussion on how UNHCR and implementing partner HIAS adapted the graduation approach for refugees in Ecuador. Piloted with 200 Colombian and Ecuadorian families in 2015, UNHCR Ecuador has now reached more than 2,300 refugees through the graduation program nationally and has plans to collaborate with the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion on a new initiative to incorporate refugees into the government’s existing protection system, Plan de Acompañamiento Familiar. The new project aims to strengthen the national protection system by incorporating a graduation and self-reliance lens, while also improving refugees’ access to the State´s projects, programmes, and services.


Alexi T. Bernagros, Director of Technical Assistance, Trickle Up

Sabrina Lustgarten, National Director, HIAS Ecuador


Prof. Rachel Sabates-Wheeler, Research Fellow, Institute of Development Studies University of Sussex

James Canonge, Social Protection Policy Officer, Social Protection Department ILO


Ziad Ayoubi, Senior Livelihood Officer, UNHCR


This webinar is a part of a series of webinars on social protection and sustainable employment programmes organised by the German Development Cooperation (implemented by GIZ) and DFAT Australia.