Chapter 7: Measuring intercultural policies: the example of the Intercultural Cities Index
Globalization is continually challenging the economic and social structures of cities. Cities are increasingly becoming diverse places with people from all over the world. Although immigration policy is often determined and designed at a national level, the impact on migrants and on society at large is felt in local communities. Hence a local approach is important in managing this diversity. In 2008, the Intercultural Cities Programme was launched as a joint project of the Council of Europe and the European Commission ‘to explore the potentials of an intercultural approach for integration of communities with diverse populations’ as stated in the Intercultural Cities Questionnaire. The project stresses the importance of exchange and of building relationships among a city’s different cultural groups. The intercultural city has a diverse population (with a variety of cultural or ethnic backgrounds) and political leaders, as well as most inhabitants, consider diversity an asset. Policies are developed in the city to serve the needs of this diverse population, to promote cultural exchange and to combat discrimination. The intercultural model promotes the idea that different groups can learn from each other, thereby developing new ideas and social practices. Both natives and immigrants can profit from this exchange. The intercultural city model sees diversity as an advantage: ‘The intercultural city does not simply “cope” with diversity but uses it as a source of dynamism, innovation, creativity and growth’ (Council of Europe 2008).
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