Intercultural City

The Intercultural city aims at acquiring a pluralistic identity based on the explicit acknowledgement that diversity is a
resource and not necessarily a problem, and develops a comprehensive set of governance structures and processes, and
adapts its policies and actions in all relevant fields to the needs and requirements of a diverse population. The following
steps are proposed as examples of elements of a comprehensive intercultural city strategy1.
Adopt a strategic approach to the integration of diverse communities, based on a vision and a policy strategy which has been developed and
accepted across the party spectrum.

The Intercultural city aims at acquiring a pluralistic identity based on the explicit acknowledgement that diversity is aresource and not necessarily a problem, and develops a comprehensive set of governance structures and processes, andadapts its policies and actions in all relevant fields to the needs and requirements of a diverse population. The followingsteps are proposed as examples of elements of a comprehensive intercultural city strategy.

Adopt a strategic approach to the integration of diverse communities, based on a vision and a policy strategy which has been developed andaccepted across the party spectrum.


1. Make a public statement or a symbolic gesture demonstrating that the city explicitly understands and is adopting an intercultural approach. Treat media as a partner.

Take an iconic action to symbolise the transition to a pluralistic city approach and identity and as a basis for a comprehensive intercultural policy approach, for example through:
  • making atonement for a past misdeed or designating a day devoted to intercultural understanding.
  • establishing awards or other schemes to reward and acknowledge single acts or lives devoted to building intercultural trust and understanding.
  • adopting a declaration at the highest political level (Mayor, City Council) to acknowledge the value of cultural diversity and a pluralist city identity.
  • organising a campaign to raise awareness of the demographic reality of the city's cultural diversity, debate citizens's concerns about issues such as security or the quality of public services, and raise citizens's understanding of the advantages associated with a diverse population.
  • adopting an official slogan for the city which evokes it intercultural identity.


  1. The percentage of people who feel that they belong to (a) the country, (b) the city, (c) their neighbourhood.
  2. The number of mentions the initiative receives in the media.
  3. Number of visitors, inward investors and relocating businesses surveyed who refer to the city's positive community relations.
  4. Number of organisations and people involved in public debates or awarenessraising campaigns. 

2. Initiate an exercise to review the main functions of the city ‘through an intercultural lens’, and establish some flagship trial projects

Conduct a reappraisal of the policies of the council (and other public agencies) asking the question: 'if greater cross-cultural interaction was a priority for this city, how would we run our services differently?' Organise a series of public consultations to find out how people living in the city envision public space, policies, institutions and projects in an intercultural perspective.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 mono-cultural schools, and citizenship education. Ensure a regular exchange of experience between intercultural flagship schools and other schools and training of teachers by colleagues from intercultural schools. Seek to adapt pedagogical methods to pupils’ family culture backgrounds (“collectivist” cultures in Hofstede’s term privilege group learning, rewards for group, not individual success, and a more authoritative, directive role of the teacher). Encourage schools to expose objects and decorative elements (kilims, paintings etc.) from other cultural contexts as a sign of recognition of the cultures of children from migrant families. Appoint intercultural mediators in the most multicultural schools or train some of the staff in intercultural mediation. Involve migrant communities in school projects not only as participants but also as initiators and leaders. Avoid an early selection into academic and vocational tracks which often penalises children from migrant origin. Enlarge possibilities for allday schooling and homework support for all but especially migrant children. Consider providing supplementary classes in out-of-school locations (sport, arts, university centres) which are attractive for children. Seek to ensure adequate mixing of pupils by ethnic background to combat “white flight” and the emergence of “black schools” with poor standards. 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. In social services, provide training for intercultural competence of staff. Make special provisions for specific cultural communities if this is in the interest of providing a better service. In housing, try programmes in allocation and publicity which give ethnic groups confidence and information enabling them to consider taking housing opportunities outside traditional enclaves. Avoid segregated low income neighbourhoods by placing social housing in small units throughout the city, or social housing flats in commercialhousing buildings. In neighbourhoods, designate key facilities as intercultural community centres, containing key services such as health, maternity, childcare and libraries. Encourage, including through fiscal measures or the provision of community facilities, the setting up and action of culturally mixed community groups and organisations acting as catalysts of neighbourhood activities and mediators. Encourage small-scale initiatives that enable migrants to act as a link between individuals or families and the services. It is very important to show to migrant young people that their parents and grandparents are respected by the community: give them spaces and occasions to contribute and show their skills. Plan for mixed-usage neighbourhoods including housing units but also recreational (cafés, hotels, sports), commercial, health and other service facilities to enable 24-hour movement of people and natural surveillance. Introduce regulations which allow such facilities to be located in the ground floor of housing buildings. Rethink the role of police and frontline police officers in key areas to act as primarily as agents of intercultural integration. 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. Design special programmes to fight discrimination in employment. Involve successful migrants to provide role models for migrant young people. In sport and the 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. Encourage arts organisations and arts colleges to train and involve people from migrant/minority background. Support arts and culture organisations and events which present works from a mixture of cultural backgrounds, use the resources and creativity of the local community and make special efforts to reach out to new audiences. Support cultural organisations which take up sensitive intercultural issues and help them organise public debates around the cultural events. Encourage partnerships between local cultural organisations and artists from the countries of origin of migrants in order to help the Diaspora keep in touch with the evolution of their communities of origin. Encourage representations of diversity through contemporary artistic expressions, not only folklore and heritage. Use non-dedicated cultural venues: busses, malls, squares, parks, hairdressers…to reach out and catalyse the spontaneous mix of people. Treat people as subjects, not as objects of policies and trust that cultural actors are
capable to develop their own appropriate programmes.


  1. The number of people who say they believe that local ethnic differences are recognised and respected by the city's public services. 
  2. How many children say they have made more friends from a different culture as a result of a special initiative. 
  3. Do educational outcome improve in schools where mixing is encouraged?
  4. Numbers of schools where children learn about other cultures and have the chance to practically experience them.
  5. Numbers of people of different ethnicity who use public spaces and institutions. 
  6. Numbers of people who say they have met people of a different ethnicity in a public space (by survey). 
  7. Proportion of people who feel they know more people of different ethnicity now than they did 5 years ago.Use the Index of isolation to measure levels of residential mixing or segregation and to follow trends. 
  8. The percentage of people who feel that their local area is a place where people from different backgrounds can get along with each other. Measure trends in reports of raciallyaggravated crime and harassment. 
  9. Numbers of ethnic minorities applying to work in the police force. 
  10. Numbers of companies in which senior management is drawn from different ethnicities. 
  11. Trading performance of companies that are following 'business case for diversity' initiatives. 
  12. Growth in visitor and tourism numbers to ethnicallymixed hospitiality and entertainment districts. 
  13. The percentage of sports and arts clubs with mixed-ethnic membership. 
  14. The percentage of the population volunteering in sport and physical activity for at least one hour per week. 

3. Mediation and conflict resolution

Acknowledge the inevitability of conflict in mixed communities and develop the city's skills in mediation and resolution. Do not try to avoid or hide conflict – this risks to create frustration, disillusionment and withdrawal. The open public debate is the best way to address fears, concerns and conflicts.


  1. The percentage of people who say they have had meaningful interactions with people from different backgrounds. 
  2. The number of incidents of raciallymotivated tension recorded by police. 
  3. The numbers of incidents resolved by mediation services. 

4. Language

Invest in language training available to ensure that all migrants are able to converse in the majority language, but also enable members of the majority to learn minority languages. Language training should be available in locations, times and forms to accommodate the specific needs of migrants.


  1. Numbers of minority members learning majority language to an agreed standard.
  2. Numbers of majority members learning a minority language to an agreed standard.

5. Media

Develop a long-term trustbased relationship with media by providing information regularly, inviting journalists to projects and events, event at the neighbourhood level. Establish a joint strategy with local media agencies to gather and present news in a responsible and intercultural way. Encourage media to publish stories about migrant's lives showing the human aspect of immigration. Provide scholarships or other schemes to encourage young migrants to train as journalists. Provide a directory of reference persons (NGOs, social services, mediators, community or project leaders, etc.) for media to be contacted in case of incidents or issues in addition to those who are usually asked to comment (police, experts).


  1. Numbers of local media organs by ethnicity. 
  2. Proportion of minority ethnic staff in major local media organs. 
  3. Proportion of positive and negative reports about diversity in local media.

6. Establish an international policy for the city to encourage links with communities of origin

Proclaims that the city is both open to ideas and influences from the outside world and also seeks to outwardly project its own identity.


  1. Number of twinning and other international relationships by the city and local institutions. 
  2. Numbers of foreign newspapers sold in local newsstands.
  3. Numbers of foreign channels available on TVs in local hotels.
  4. Numbers of children learning a foreign language in school.

7. Establish an intercultural intelligence function (surveys, research, evidence-based policy)

Set up an observatory or establish partnerships with a university or a research centre to begin the process of: Gathering and processing local information and data on ethnicity 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.


Set up an observatory or at least begin the process of:

  1. Gathering and processing local information and data on ethnicity
  2. Conducting research into the state of cross-cultural interaction in the city 
  3. Establishing and monitoring intercultural indicators 
  4. Dispensing advice and expertise to local agencies and facilitating local learning networks.

8. Intercultural competence

Initiate a programme of intercultural awareness training for politicians, and key policy and public interface staff in public sector agencies. Encourage the private sector to participate. Recruit municipality employees who represent the ethnic diversity mix of the community – even if specific recruitment policies would often need to be designed in order to reach some of the migrant or ethnic groups.


  1. Numbers attending training courses.

9. Welcoming new arrivals

Initiate 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, hosted by people of different cultures.


  1. Numbers of new arrival taking part in welcoming and settlement initiatives.

10. Governance, leadership and citizenship

Establish an intercultural integration office with a broad transversal mandate,right to initiative and an adequate budget to deal with integration and intercultural matters. Establish a representative body where community relations and issues can be discussed and co-ordinated, multi-agency action taken, as an advisory or decisionmaking organ for the intercultural integration office. Develop schemes to encourage participation and decision-making at the street or neighbourhood level, including the allocation of financial resources by the local residents for neighbourhood initiatives. In the absence of a formal right to local vote for foreigners, introduce alternative schemes such as shadow or observer councillors elected by the foreigner communities. Give considerable space and support to individual and group independent initiatives, not only to initiatives by formal organisations. Encourage (including through special funding or the provision of common office/meeting facilities) migrant/minority organisations to develop joint initiatives. Ensure the leaders and decision-makers of the future have access to the information, experience and training they need to operate in a multi-ethnic environment.


  1. Number of incidents of tension before and after the formation of the forum.
  2. Number of people taking part in training.
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