The Intercultural City programme is a joint project of the Council of Europe and the European Commission. It aims at stimulating new ideas and practices concerning the integration of migrants and minorities.
Through the Intercultural City network, the project aims to facilitate mutual mentoring and exchange between cities which all face the challenge of migration and diversity. The network is a learning community of cities, politicians, practitioners, academics and members of society, learning from each other's experiences in order to enable cities to respond positively to the challenge of diversity.
The activities of the network are designed in a way which should involve a broad range of actors – city officials, administrative officers, service providers, professionals and civil society organisations – in the process of building an intercultural vision and strategy for the city, reviewing polices through the “intercultural lens” and developing intercultural skills.
Cities across Europe and the world are dealing with an increasingly diverse population. People flow across borders and from the countryside into urban area in search for jobs and opportunities. Other cities are struggling to create cohesive communities involving national minorities, especially in areas of recent regional conflict.
As latest research shows, cultural differences due to migration or the presence of minority groups can, if left unmanaged, undermine the city's sense of community and identity, and weaken its ability to respond to challenges, adapt to change, attract investment and grow. Cultural differences can even engender paralysing conflict and violence.
If cities manage diversity they can benefit from the potential of migrants and minorities for entrepreneurship and innovation. Therefore key opinion of the programme is that cities need to review a range of institutions, services and policies to create the appropriate governance structures and mechanisms to remove obstacles and enhance for the integration and contribution of migrants and minorities to the development of the city.
The network is open to cities with a diverse or diversifying population (migrants, national minorities, Roma) wishing to minimise the threats and maximise the advantages of cultural diversity and develop an inclusive, intercultural identity.
The engagement of a city with the network is subject to a formal decision by the Mayor, the Council or an equivalent authority.
Beyond the cities participating in the network, some of the activities are open to citizen and professional groups and organisations, students, academics and other interested individuals.
The network is supported by:
- a multidisciplinary team of experts involving representatives of the Council of Europe and policy consultants from leading European organisations such as Comedia (consultancy), the Change Institute , the Media Diversity Institute , Ordina Management Consulting  and others,
- a range of cities with proven successful experience in intercultural urban management, specialised think tanks and other partner organisations (the pilot cities listed, but also others such as Barcelona),
- a range of city networks, organisations and institutions such as ACCEPT PLURALISM of the EUI, EUROCITIES, United Cities and Local Governments, REVES, Open cities, CLIP and other relevant city projects and networks.
The Intercultural Cities policy innovation network offers a range of learning, development and exchange opportunities for city officials, administrators, professionals and active citizens. The activity offer can be adapted as much as possible to the needs and expectations of each city.
- The core learning process takes the city throughout a process of critical review of its current diversity-management practice, the building of a vision of an intercultural identity, and the translation of this vision into a comprehensive strategy. The network helps cities to involve relevant policy, professional and civil society stakeholders, including media, in a strategy-development process which is broad, inclusive, ambitious and result-oriented. The core curriculum involves a series of analytical reports, policy review and development sessions, training workshops, debates and consultations, study visits as well as a package of policy assessment and development tools.
- Additional assistance:
- Diagnostic of the current integration approach
- Recommendations for re-orientation
- Advice on specific governance or policy issues
- Intercultural competence training for policy-makers and/or various professional groups
- City debates, vision-building and policy-development workshops
- Additional output:
- carrying out research
- organising public seminars and conferences
Interculturalism - what it is
Interculturalism is a concept which adds another dimension to the management of culturally diverse populations. In addition to non-discrimination, equal opportunities and the right to maintain and transmit one’s own culture, interculturalism is about building trust through encouraging interaction and mixing between cultural groups in the public realm. It is also about improving the efficiency of public services by making them more culturally sensitive and adapted. Finally, it is about generating cohesion and preventing conflict and discrimination by encouraging a positive public attitude to diversity (though public discourse, media, and specially designed campaigns). Interculturalism is about the “software” of integration as opposed to the “hardware” (jobs, housing, health etc.).
Interculturalism is closely related to the concept of intercultural dialogue as defined by the Council of Europe White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue.
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- Intercultural Cities: A Journey Through 23 European Cities
- "Major cities are now world cities inasmuch as they are becoming microcosms of the world in all its teeming diversity", Phil Wood and Charles Landry, The Intercultural City, Earthscan, 2008.
- Phil Wood, Charles Landry: The intercultural city: planning for diversity advantage. Earthscan 2008.
- e.g. Intercultural Cities conference IFACCA
- Council of Europe, White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue
- PowerPoint presentation "Intercultural cities":
- Cities' information:
- External information from other stakeholders:
- Intercultural Cities: A Journey Through 23 European Cities