Chamber of Local Authorities



    26 January 2009

    Intercultural cities

    Jens NILSSON, Sweden (L, SOC)

    Explanatory memorandum
    Committee on Culture and Education


    European cities have a fundamental role to play in promoting cultural identities, diversity and cultural exchanges. Best practices stemming from 12 pilot cities should enable to identify implementation strategies to be recommended to other cities and communities to promote intercultural relations.

    The objective of the Council of Europe’s programme is to foster cultural diversity, recognising the contribution of different cultural groups to the social coherence of cities. This project recommends a pro-active intercultural integration policy prioritising professional integration, housing and citizenship and encouraging the development of a culturally inclusive identity through public debate, cultural events and work with the media.

    R: Chamber of Regions / L: Chamber of Local Authorities
    ILDG: Independent and Liberal Democrat Group of the Congress
    EPP/CD: European People’s Party – Christian Democrats of the Congress
    SOC: Socialist Group of the Congress
    NR: Members not belonging to a Political Group of the Congress

Table of contents

    I Background and objectives 3

    II Towards an intercultural strategy for cities 3

    1.The notion of interculturalism 4

    2.The Intercultural city 5

    III The making of the intercultural cities 6

    a) A framework of rights 6

    b) Intercultural leadership 7

    c) A strategic intercultural approach 7

    d) Managing conflict 7

    e) Development of an intercultural city strategy 8

    IV Ten points for further action 8

    V Conclusion 13

    Intercultural cities

    I Background and objectives of this report

    In recent decades Europe has been witnessing a sharp increase in the numbers of people crossing frontiers with the intention to settle in another country – usually, but not exclusively – in a European Union member state. The demographic situation in the years to come is of outmost importance to most European countries with an elderly part of the population growing. To attract immigrants Europe must have the ability of creating the force to adapt being built into sustainable intercultural cities.

    In addition to the challenge of migration, in some European countries the integration of minority groups, which may or may not be recognised as national minorities, as well as ethnic groups such as Roma, is seen as a critical factor for social cohesion and stability.

    In the past, responsibility for cultural adaptation was placed mostly on the migrants and minorities themselves, rather than the host community. While making efforts to facilitate their social and economic integration, and to recognise and support their cultural identity, societies have nevertheless been relatively reluctant to encourage the interaction, exchange and mixing of cultures – either from fear for the preservation of the national identity or because the migration phenomenon was considered as temporary and therefore not requiring specific policy measures.

    In its “European Urban Charter II – Manifesto for a new urbanity”1, the Congress sets out its vision of the city as a place where people from different backgrounds, cultures and ages can live together and, on the basis of shared European values, integrate and mutually enrich the multiple identities and cultures which they represent.

    The Congress has also linked social cohesion to the need to exploit the benefits of diversity in its recent Recommendation 246 (2008) on “Social approach to fight against racism at local and regional level”. The related report shows that local authorities have substantial powers to counteract racism and discrimination as employers and service providers, purveyors of public procurement contracts and as funders of awareness-raising and programmes of outreach and support to the targets and victims of racism.

    Restricted intercultural interaction limits genuine knowledge of the other and entertains fears about cultural diversity which in turn jeopardise the effectiveness and sustainability of integration policies. This report presents the main features of interculturalism, which is emerging as a new integration approach, based on developing community perceptions of diversity as a resource rather than a threat and on the development of public policies which facilitate and encourage cultural mixing and interaction. It should be underlined, however, that interculturalism can only be successful as an integration approach if it is placed in a solid framework of affirmation and enforcement of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Interculturalism is not about diluting or compromising the fundamental basis of democratic societies based on human rights and the rule of law, but about ensuring social cohesion, dignity and equal opportunities for all members of society, regardless of ethnic and cultural background.

    This report presents the concept and methodology of a pilot programme which seeks to promote and demonstrate the effectiveness of the intercultural approach in cities. The programme, entitled “Intercultural cities – governance and policies for diverse communities” was launched in January 2008 as a joint action of the Council of Europe and the European Commission. The objective of this programme is to develop, through the experience of a network of pilot cities2, a set of guidelines and instruments to help other European cities develop a positive approach to diversity and manage their diverse populations as a resource rather than as an obstacle.

    The objective of this report is to provoke a debate about the validity and applicability of interculturalism as a policy approach in cities and mobilise the political support necessary for the successful implementation of the pilot phase of the Intercultural cities programme and the subsequent dissemination of its results.

    II Towards an intercultural strategy for cities

    1. The notion of interculturalism

    Interculturalism emphasises the need to uphold cultural pluralism within a common framework of values, in particular human rights and fundamental freedom. It is about fighting discrimination by encouraging interaction between individuals and communities with different cultural backgrounds as a way of fostering knowledge and understanding of the other. It is based on the belief that intensive interaction and hybridisation between cultures are a source of enrichment and innovation in culture and society, and that actively recognising this fact, and encouraging positive public perceptions of diversity, is a vital precondition for the success of policies for integration and social cohesion. Intercultural policies foster social cohesion and integration and prevent cultural segregation and exclusion.

    Interculturalism means accepting cultures as living entities which evolve and transform themselves through encounters with other cultures. It also means understanding that cultures thrive and command respect not when they are ghettoised and marginalised, but when they openly express themselves and mix with other cultures in the public space.

    Interculturalism represents a different perspective compared to other “ideal type” approaches to the management of diversity such as guest-worker, assimilationist or multicultural policy. Such ideal type approaches obviously rarely exist in pure form. In most cases different combinations of these approaches are used and it is possible to identify variations in policy approach within the same city at any one time. For example whilst a city’s arts policy may ‘celebrate’ the differences within its multicultural communities, the housing department might have a ‘colour blind’ lettings policy which assumes that everyone will assimilate to one majority cultural norm. Ideal policy types are nevertheless useful as analytical tools for describing the evolution of policy dynamics.

    · Unlike guest-worker policies, interculturalism recognises that emigration is rarely a temporary phenomenon

    and that immigrant workers are likely to settle and establish their lives in the local community and expect that they and their children should be able to enjoy the same rights and opportunities as the host population.

    · Unlike assimilationist approaches, interculturalism recognises the right to cultural identity and cultural pluralism as essential features of democratic, rights-based society and does not consider cultural assimilation as

    “the prise to pay” for social integration.

    · Unlike multiculturalism, the intercultural approach discourages communitarian segregation as a condition for the “purity” and “survival” of cultures and promotes active intercultural exchange and interaction in public institutions and spaces and respect for cultural difference in the framework of common societal values and norms.

    It would be easy to draw a normative conclusion from the policy matrix that there is a naturally progressing trajectory as cities become more sophisticated, but this would be misleading. Rather, the intercultural approach is another important step in the continuum of integration and city-building. For example, protecting and reinforcing the separate identity of new arrivals to a city could be an important first step in enabling them to engage with rather than feeling overwhelmed by the host community.

    The most significant difference of the intercultural approach is that in other policy types the underlying assumption is that they will not ask any serious question of, or require change by, the majority.

    2. The Intercultural City

    As most migrants and many minorities in Europe settle in towns and cities, their search for housing and jobs, legal recognition and protection, religious and political expression, education and welfare services is increasingly a local rather than a national issue. It is in cities where key decisions will be taken determining whether, over the coming decades, Europe will be a place that is at ease with its cultural diversity – or at war with itself. Intercultural policies are therefore essential for the diverse communities of tomorrow.

    The intercultural approach aims at establishing an understanding that diversity is in principle a good news for cities – as it is for enterprises.

    · People from diverse backgrounds bring with them necessary knowledge and skills such as the highly-

    prized talents of the technology entrepreneur or the nurse. Migrants perform vital functions that the hosts need but no longer care to perform themselves. Migrants also bring aptitudes which are different to those of the host and may, if managed well, prove complementary to, and add value to, the skills of the host community.

    · Very often when immigrants arrive in a new city they do not sever links with their homeland but retain

    connections which they often exploit for the purposes of trade. Whilst such trade may remain limited to the supply of familiar food and cultural goods to the settler, the ramifications can be far wider than this, for example the opportunities available to German exporters in the emergent Turkish market or the greater ease with which British companies are able to interact with the booming Indian high technology market. On top of this, migrants also, of course, represent new markets for local companies in the host city.

    · In general, people who leave their home to seek a better life are motivated and future-orientated. They are

    more likely to be self-employed and be more entrepreneurial than their hosts. Particularly if they resettle in cities which are experiencing stagnation or decline they may bring a welcome boost to a flat or low-aspirational local economy, whilst their stronger social networks may revive a disintegrating neighbourhood. The mayor of Toronto David Miller has acknowledged that immigrants are the mainstay of his city’s economy and will remain so.

    · Population diversity is also the source of other tangible or intangible benefits such as a cosmopolitan brand

    which can favour foreign direct investment, trade, business and leisure tourism, or for the location of major events such as tournaments and exhibitions. The modern economy is one which prizes new ideas and rewards innovation is processes and products. Leading edge companies have now adopted the ‘business case for diversity’ and come to recognise that they must now search far and wide for the best people and the best environments which might spark the inventiveness that will give them a competitive advantage.

    An intercultural city is one in which there is the assumption that diversity is the norm and that it is incumbent upon all residents to make adjustments. What the other policy models also lack is any sense of the dynamic energy of our diverse European urban society, in which the movement of people is matched by the interplay and trading of goods and services, ideas and customs, dreams and aspirations, fears and anxieties, skills and aptitudes as people make places, make money, make families and make new identities within and across ethnic lines.

    The intercultural city does not simply “cope” with diversity but uses it as a source of innovation, creativity and growth. It accepts diversity as a norm and helps people from all groups – minorities as well as the majority – benefit from it. The intercultural city shapes its educational, social, housing, employment, cultural and related policies, and its public spaces, in ways which enable people from different cultural backgrounds to mix, exchange and interact for mutual understanding and benefit. Structures and mechanisms for public consultation, debate and decision-making represent the community’s cultural mix and are able to deal with issues of cultural difference. The intercultural city does not avoid cultural conflict but accepts it and develops adequate ways – both civic and judicial - of dealing with it. City political leaders and local media promote an understanding of diversity as an asset and encourage citizens to perceive it in the same way and share an understanding of the city as a culturally pluralistic space. Because of close interaction and trust between cultural groups and strong participation in civic life, the intercultural city is able to respond positively to social and economic challenges and cease opportunities provided by an increasingly global economy.

    The intercultural city adopts interculturalism as a core policy approach. This approach can be successful and sustainable only if it is shared and proclaimed by the city’s leadership across the political spectrum and is not perceived as a part of a partisan agenda. The leadership needs to establish alliances with grassroots organisations and local media in order to help local community develop a pluralistic understanding of its own identity, a broader sense of “we” which encompasses not only the traditional residents or members of the majority, but also those who have a different language, religion and culture or have recently jointed the community.

    Cultural diversity is sometimes experienced as threatening and often raises concerns about the identity of the local community. The Intercultural cities approach responds to such fears through an open and inclusive debate in public institutions and the media. This debate aims first to de-construct unfounded myths (for instance about the economic role of migrants or their religious practices) which circulate in the public opinion and the media about migrant or minority groups3 and to bring to fore positive contribution of these groups to the development of the community.

    III The making of the intercultural city

    Cities are subject to a whole range of conditions upon which they have little control such as global and national economy, national policies, geographical location, demography, cultural heritage etc. Clearly, the development of intercultural approaches depends to a great extent on whether these conditions are favourable or not. For instance, most cities have little influence over educational policies and curricula while intercultural education in school and the primary intercultural training of professionals, especially those engaged in social services, are essential elements of the intercultural city. However, even in such areas cities have an important role to play for instance by encouraging schools to organise intercultural events, employ intercultural mediators or communicate intensively with parents of migrant or minority origin.

    Cities participating in the pilot Intercultural cities programme have engaged to implement specific actions and areas in which they can make a difference in order to stimulate intercultural development.

    a) A framework of rights

    Any city wishing to realise the benefits of interculturalism must put in place the adequate structures in order to ensure that interculturalism does not become an excuse for the weakening or challenging of fundamental human rights and freedoms.

    The first important precondition for the intercultural city is that all citizens should be able to enjoy democratic rights, particularly equality before the law, access to political participation, freedom of worship and legal protection from discrimination and harassmenti. Voting rights at the local level are a pre-condition for active local citizenship and a way to ensure that political processes take into account the needs of all members of the community. Electoral legislation is generally a responsibility of the national state and therefore largely beyond the sphere of influence of a single city. Cities can nevertheless put in place alternative practices such as elected observers to the city council or “shadow” councillors representing foreign residents, or even some form of mandate sharing between full councillors and representatives of resident non-nationals. In addition, there is much a city can do to ensure that the law is effectively implemented and policed at local level, and there is now an emerging trend of cities beginning to take into their own hands matters such as the conferring of new forms of sub-national citizenship on migrants (for example Madrid).

    b) Intercultural leadership

    There is also a need for a change in mindset of local leaders. This means the city asking of itself ‘If our aim were to create a society which were not only free, egalitarian and harmonious but also one in which there was productive interaction and co-operation between ethnicities, what would we need to do more of or do differently?’ And in particular, what kind of leaders (political and communal) and citizens will this require?

    Intercultural leadership is about city leaders acknowledging the positive contribution of migrants and ethno-cultural minorities to the city, encouraging people to look at diversity as an opportunity, and leading an open debate about the city’s pluralist identity. Intercultural leadership should be shared across the political spectrum, and not associated with a party if it is to make a real change in the city’s self-perception, vision and policy.

    Intercultural leaders in politics, civil society, business and professions participate and lead other to participate in the building of the city’s intercultural vision ‘through an intercultural lens’.

    c) A strategic intercultural approach

    The building of the intercultural city requires a strategic approach which encompasses all major policy areas in the city and involves all main policy and service institutions, civil society, cultural operators, etc.

    Intercultural city strategies cannot be limited to incremental approaches that build solely on what has gone before (though obvious city strengths and good practice will need to be built on). They need to be transformative; aiming to fundamentally change civic culture, the public sphere and institutions themselves.

    Applying the intercultural lens means holding discussions and debating about the intercultural city vision with individuals, groups and communities about objectives, means and criteria for an intercultural city policy. How can key public buildings be made to evoke not one particular cultural origin but a plurality of cultural references (through architectural design, decoration, language signs etc.) so that they symbolically represent the city’s cultural pluralism? How can we organise language learning in an intercultural way (not only as a compulsory integration measure but as an exchange of language skills, allowing also the host population to be familiar with migrants’ languages)? How can cultural activities involve participants across ethnic groups rather than in mono-cultural silos. How to make sure that public services deliver sufficient quality and access even under sudden demographic pressure from immigration? This is just a small sample of questions the intercultural city needs to address in a systemic way in order to create conditions for positive, “mutual” integration.

    d) Managing conflict

    Intercultural city strategies need to build on spheres and activities where relationships are positive but should not ignore or fail to address intercultural conflict. Conflict is to be welcomed as inevitable and, handled well, creative and leading to mutual learning and growth for all participants, including city authorities.

    A good example of this is found in Torino, a city which has positively embraced the ‘creative management of conflict’ as an opportunity to build active and integrated citizenship. Through several separate but inter-related programmes of work in various parts of the city, the Council and its partners have invested impressive levels of resource and skill in engaging directly at the points of fracture and flashpoint where public authorities in other cities fear to tread. Firstly, the city trains and employs a team of intercultural ‘mediators on the street’ to engage directly with young people, street traders, new arrivals and established residents to understand emerging trends, anticipate disputes, find common ground and build joint enterprises. One step beyond the street, the city – in association with specialist agency Gruppo Abele - has set about a programme of creating spaces where intercultural conflict can be addressed. It has opened three Casa dei Conflitti (or “House of Conflict”) which are staffed by 10 skilled mediators plus volunteers. A further step is the negotiation of ‘neighbourhood contracts’. An example of this is Via Arquata where 24 voluntary organisations and public authorities have formed a tavola sociale to anticipate and manage intercultural conflicts.

    Reggio Emilia has established an Intercultural centre with trained mediators with a variety of ethnic and language backgrounds who intervene whenever they feel a problem might arise – for instance if children in some schools tend to cluster too much on an ethnic basis.

    e) Development of an intercultural city strategy

    No two cities are alike. Geography, demography, history and politics make each city a unique constellation of factors which need to be taken into account when designing a new strategy. Pilot cities engaged in the Intercultural cities joint programme of the Council of Europe and the European Commission are assessing their policies and approaches in a range of fields from an intercultural perspective and using this knowledge for the development of intercultural strategies. An “ideal type” intercultural strategy would involve the following elements:

    IV Ten points for further action

    i. An explicit public engagement with interculturalism

    A public statement that the city explicitly understands and is adopting an intercultural approach is necessary in order to announce the shift of perspective and raise awareness and debate within the community. Such a statement could take different forms but ideally it should involve elected representatives across the political spectrum, to ensure continuity in the case of change of administration. The statement could be supplemented by an iconic action to symbolise the transition to a new era, for example, through making atonement for a past misdeed or designating a day devoted to intercultural understanding. Awards or other schemes to reward and acknowledge single acts or lives devoted to building intercultural trust and understanding could be established.

    In 2007 Greenwich (a London Borough) published and distributed widely a report entitled “Welcoming Diversity”

    which outlines the key targets and activities of the Council to promote diversity, inclusion and cohesion and to

    combat hatred, discrimination and violence. A chapter in the report outlines various intercultural activities saying

    that there is no “better way to celebrate our rich cultural diversity than by bringing people from all our different

    communities together to enjoy themselves and discover more about each other’s cultures”.

    The city of Oslo declared itself an open and inclusive city in 2001. The policy is named OXLO – Oslo Xtra

    Large. The declaration “Oslo – a city for all” passed unanimously by the city council, states: “Oslo is a city where

    all citizens are of equal value. The citizens of Oslo are its future and its most cherished resource. We are citizens

    with different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds, and have all the same fundamental rights, duties and

    responsibilities. (..) The municipality of Oslo aims to mirror the diversity of its population, among its public

    servants and leaders, and in the services it provides.”

    Cities like Rotterdam and Neuchâtel have initiated welcoming initiatives and urban exploration projects

    whereby new arrivals (temporary and permanent) but – equally importantly - local citizens, can visit parts of the

    city they have not previously been to, hosted by people of different cultures.

    ii. Development of an intercultural governance system

    The granting of the right of foreign residents to vote and stand in local elections, as postulated in the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level,  is an essential condition for a full local citizenship and genuine intercultural governance. Cities where foreign residents have the right to vote and stand in local elections, witness a significant increase in the participation of foreigners in the life of the community, less prejudice and intercultural conflict. Efforts to support the election of nationals of migrant origin in local institutions are also an important element of the governance of diverse communities.

    However, there are other specific mechanisms and structures which could enable civil integration and participation of migrants and foreign residents. One of these key structures is an office at the city administration dealing with integration and intercultural relations. This office should have the political, operational and financial capacity to intervene in a variety of policy fields, take initiatives and develop projects at different levels (as in Neuchâtel). The work of this office should be guided and supported by an advisory body involving representatives of migrants/foreign residents, but also representatives of different city institutions, social services, employers and trade unions, experts in educational and other relevant fields. The advisory body should be mandated to monitor integration and intercultural relations, examine specific issues, consult relevant stakeholders and make policy recommendations. The intercultural governance system should also include support for the associations of migrants and foreign nationals, as well as other civil society associations, partly conditioned on the intercultural character of the organisations’ leadership, membership and activities. In addition, cities should encourage the setting up of neighbourhood management systems as in Neukölln and Reggio Emilia. City-wide consultation should be organised in a way which corresponds to the good intercultural consultation practice which is being studied in the context of the Intercultural Cities programme.

    iii. Intercultural approaches in the city’s institutions and policies, modification or establishment of new

    intercultural institutions and projects, for example:

    - In education, establish a few schools and colleges as intercultural flagships, with high investment in staff training, intercultural curriculum, co-operative learning models, closer links with parents and community, twinning links with monocultural schools, and citizenship education.

    In the British city of Bradford, the education authority found that in some neighbourhoods schools were

    increasingly polarising into becoming all white or all-non white. This was allowing little opportunity for

    children to learn more about each other. A process of linking between over 70 local schools has now led to

    much closer co-operation and joint working between staff and pupils. Pupils have on average made 2.6 new

    cross-cultural friendships since the project began

    The neighbouring borough of Kirklees has attempted to extend the community cohesion potential of

    twinning through the involvement of adults other than teachers, not only parents but also non-teaching

    assistants and playtime assistants who are often people with significant networks and influence in a locality.

    This has been well received by parents:

    Several multicultural schools have been set up in Greece in areas with particularly diversified school

    population. These schools have a special curriculum and reinforced links with the local community.

    Albert-Schweitzer-School (ASS) in Berlin Neukölln.

    Currently 530 pupils attend the ASS, 85 % are migrants or have at least a migration background. The school

    is in the process of developing a concept for a full-time day school providing special support for the

    acquisition of a standard language knowledge in German and cultural education in general. See also:

    - In the public realm, identify a number of key public spaces (formal and informal) and invest in discrete redesign, animation and maintenance to raise levels of usage and interaction by all ethnic groups; develop a better understanding of how different groups use space and incorporate into planning and design guidelines, as in parts of London.

    Sense of Place in Manchester is a new form of community planning which draws upon a much wider and

    deeper range of cultural factors to inform city planners on the future development of neighbourhoods, see

    The London Borough of Lewisham has pioneered a new way of looking at city planning through an

    intercultural lens, see:

    Berlin Neukölln: “Käpt’n Blaubär” – Meeting point for kids and parents

    Due to the fact that there was no meeting point for children and youngsters in the whole area, the

    neighbourhood management established a new playground and a small building (financed by the programme

    „Soziale Stadt“ – Social city which is funded by the Land of Berlin, the federal government and the European

    Union). The team of “outreach” monitors the project. „Outreach“ is an alternative to the traditional social youth

    work in youth centres.

    In one of the migrant neighbourhoods in Lyon regular café-discussions are organised where migrant women

    talk about their traditions in different areas – marriage, cuisine etc.

    - In housing, trial programmes in allocation and publicity which give ethnic groups confidence and information enabling them to consider taking housing opportunities outside traditional enclaves, as has been done in Bradford and Lyon.

    For a review of good practice in the UK see Ethnic diversity, neighbourhoods and housing at:

    Integration helps Roma become full members of European society. A housing project to integrate Roma and

    Spanish communities in Avilés:

    One way of measuring residential segregation is the Index of Isolation. Further details of this can be found at

    Many examples of practices and approaches to ensure cultural mixing in housing estates and neighbourhoods

    are quoted in the CLIP network study “Housing and Integration of Migrants in Europe’.

    - In neighbourhoods, designate key facilities as intercultural community centres, containing key services such as health, maternity, childcare and library and providing mediation services.

    In Århus the public libraries have been developed to include many other public services to become the hub of

    multiethnic neighbourhoods, see Public Libraries: -Embracing Diversity, Empowering Citizens in Denmark, at:

    Collingwood Neighbourhood House is a multi-functional local service centre that has united a

    diverse and formerly run-down quarter of inner-city Vancouver.

    The “Helene-Nathan-Library” is the Central Library of Neukölln (Berlin) with 160. 000 media and an overall floor

    space of 3000 sq.m. It is very popular for migrant children and young people. During the years 2004 – 2006 it

    was centre of the project “News from Babylon”, which dealt with multilingualism in Neukölln and the responsibility

    of a library in a multicultural city and its way to actually become an intercultural library.


    - In business and economy, take extra effort to ensure migrants find jobs appropriate to their skills, ensuring

    recognition of accreditation; explore trade opportunities through diasporic networks of local migrants; assist migrant businesses to break out into multi-ethnic markets.

      London is one of the first cities to establish a comprehensive ‘business case for diversity’. The London

      Development Agency argues that companies which embrace the city’s diversity will see economic advantage,

      i.e. through expanding the skill base of their workforce, extending their markets both at home and (through

      diasporic links) internationally, and expanding their product lines through supplier diversity initiatives. See

      In Neuchâtel one of the major watch-making companies, Nivarox, has developed a partnership with social

      services to ensure work placement of (mostly immigrant) young people with weak qualifications who have often

      have offered training/placement and eventually permanent jobs. Very successful, the scheme is being

      extended to other companies and to other groups – non-working mothers and people with disabilities.

      In Berlin Neukölln “Tek-Stil” is an art project, sponsored by the German Culture Foundation in the project

      framework “New possibilities and forms of work”. The project brought young designers and migrant women

      together. Berlin is trying to become a centre for “creative industries” and young creative people. Part of this

      movement is the regeneration of the textile industry. Fashion and design schools are springing up, and the

      young professionals want to hold shows and bring their ideas to fruition. The idea of the Tek-stil project is to

      consolidate two important potentials: young professional designers and a special kind of needle worker –

      preferable women with migrant background. Many of them live in Neukölln without paid work but are skilled in

      textile and handicraft fields, especially needlework.

    - In sport and arts, initiate tournaments and festivals which bring together young people from different parts of the city and train multi-ethnic youngsters as sports and arts leaders, as in Oldham.

    iv. Acknowledge the inevitability of conflict in mixed communities and develop the city’s skills in

    mediation and resolution, as in Torino. Realise that a coherent integration policy cannot fail to include effective prevention of racism, without which the social cohesion objectives would risk becoming mere declarations of intent.

    For UK Government guidance for local authorities on community cohesion contingency planning and tension

    monitoring, see

    Casa dei Conflitti in Torino is a place for resolving neighbourhood disputes, see

    v. Explore and learn from best practice elsewhere through taking politicians and policymakers, as well as multi-ethnic groups of young community leaders – as in Belfast and Derry - to other places. City-to-city learning and mentoring is a key element of the Intercultural cities programme methodology.

    vi. Invest in language training to ensure that all migrants are able to converse in the majority language, but also enable members of the majority to learn minority languages, as in Amsterdam. Involve enterprises in providing language training for their foreign workers as in Neuchâtel and Reggio Emilia.

    vii. Establish a joint strategy with local media agencies to gather and present news in a responsible and

    intercultural way, as in Leicester. Develop media monitoring and training initiatives to promote balanced reporting in media and increase the professionalism and impact of minority and community media.

    viii. Establish an intercultural intelligence function (or an observatory as has been done in Vienna, Torino and Madrid) or at least begin the process of monitoring examples of good practice locally and in other places; gathering and processing local information and data; conducting research into the state of cross-cultural interaction in the city; establishing and monitoring intercultural indicators; dispensing advice and expertise to local agencies and facilitating local learning networks.

    ix. Initiate a programme of intercultural skills and awareness training for politicians, and key policy and

    public interface staff in public service agencies as in Greenwich. Encourage the private sector to participate – as has been done in Stuttgart. The research shows that the employment of mediators as intermediaries between “clients” and practitioners in the process of provision of health, educational and other services works well in situations of crisis but that on a daily basis the intercultural literacy of practitioners is indispensable.

    x. Establish a city-wide inter-cultural and/or inter-faith consultative forum or centre and within

    neighbourhoods establish cross-cultural consultation exercises wherever possible – as has been done in Leicester and in Barcelona.

    The Oldham Interfaith Forum (Oldham Metropolitan Borough, UK) draws its membership from the Christian,

    Buddhist, Hindu Jewish and Muslim communities. Members are nominated by Churches Together, the Mosques

    Council, the Indian Association of Oldham and the town’s Buddhist Centre. The Forum organises various events,

    the biggest of which is the Festival of Lights held in December to celebrate the festivals of Deepawali

    (Hinduism), Hanukkah (Judaism) Christmas (Christianity) and Eid-Al-Fitr (Islam). This event gives Oldham

    residents an opportunity to share each other’s festivals by sharing information and involving the faith

    communities through performances and speeches.

    V Conclusion

    Cities can be successful agents of integration and genuine laboratories of intercultural dialogue, provided they commit strongly, continuously, and across the political spectrum, to embrace diversity as a positive factor of development and adopt the principles of interculturalism. Cities can, within the framework of their autonomy, put in place a range of structures, policies and programmes which facilitate cultural mixing, intercultural learning and dialogue, cross-cultural debate and conflict resolution. However, in order to be effective, city efforts need to be supported by an adequate legal framework, nation-wide intercultural training and capacity-building programmes, and be given certain freedoms to create structures and implement policies which favour positive intercultural relations.

1 Resolution 269 (2008)

2 The following cities are involved in the network: Berlin Neukölln (Germany), Craiova (Romania), London Greenwich (UK), Izhevsk (Russian Federation), Lublin (Poland), Lyon (France), Melitopol (Ukraine), Neuchâtel (Switzerland), Oslo (Norway), Patras (Greece), Reggio Emilia (Italy), Subotica (Serbia)

3 Many examples of such myths are quoted in the report ” Building the Future – A time for reconciliation” by Gérard Bouchard and Charles Tayor for the Commission de Consultation sur les pratiques d’accomodement reliées aux differences culturelles, Quebec 2008

i The Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) provides the most authoritative guide to how different states perform in regard to six key



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