European cities are becoming increasingly diverse, as more and more migrants from around the globe settle in them. Different communities and their languages, foods and cultures make up the fabric of our cities today. Local administrations have a key role to play in managing social cohesion, ensuring equal opportunities for all citizens and promoting the positive values of diversity and inclusion.
Integration happens at the local level and cities have a crucial role in building inclusive and welcoming communities, where no one is left behind. Cities also have a role to play in sometimes challenging negative perceptions about newcomers and promoting a better understanding of our collective responsibility to respect everyone’s fundamental human rights, including the right to protection for refugees. Successful integration and inclusion policies need to ensure that the host society’s services and policies are adapted and accessible to a diverse population.
Our Integrating Cities Process is one of many ways we work with cities for better integration and inclusion. It harnesses the duties and responsibilities of European cities in their roles as policymakers, service providers, employers and buyers of goods and services to provide equal opportunities for all residents, to integrate migrants, and to embrace the diversity of their populations that is a reality in cities across Europe.
Through our mutual learning programme, we bring cities together to exchange different challenges, transfer good practices and test out innovative approaches to integration across localities in Europe. These insights from the local level directly feed into our policy work in Brussels to represent cities’ interests vis-à-vis the European Union and ensure that the urban approach to integration is well understood across governance levels.
We run several European projects to support cities more extensively on selected topics. Our AMIF-funded UNITES project (UrbaN InTEgration Strategies through co-design) trains and accompanies local authorities to co-design integration strategies with other stakeholders and migrants. The Eurocities partnership with UNICEF aims to mobilise cities and build local-level capacities for implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights and the European Child Guarantee in support of the social inclusion of vulnerable children, including refugee children.