The Intercultural cities programme (ICC) supports cities in reviewing their policies through an intercultural lens and developing comprehensive intercultural strategies to help them manage diversity positively and realise the diversity advantage.
The Rumourless Cities transfer network is focused on the transfer of good practice established by the municipality of Amadora which addresses a need across all partners, namely how to counter growing negative attitudes towards a cross section of groups in society, which includes long established migrants (Third country nationals), Roma, recently arrived refugees, LGBTI people, and general homophobic stereotyping. This is an issue that is recognized at an EU level. The EU Fundamental Rights Agency in its 2018 report highlights how discrimination is still widespread within the EU . The report highlights that discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin continues to be regarded as the most widespread form of discrimination in the EU (64%), followed by discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (58%), gender identity (56%), religion or belief (50%), disability (50%), age (being over 55 years old, 42%) and gender (37%).
Amidst the usual cycles of networks opening and closing, URBACT continues to give a platform for cities to scale up ideas and drive change at local, national and EU levels.
From knowledge to action
URBACT Knowledge Hub took off in 2019 with the Gender Equal Cities initiative, in collaboration with the CEMR. Building on the knowledge of women active in the URBACT community and beyond, URBACT created a space for raising awareness of gender-based inequalities at local level and highlighted how cities can take action.
On March 7th, the day preceding International Women’s day, the Gender Equal Cities report was launched during a roundtable in Brussels with representatives of the Commission and UN Habitat. This triggered a series of actions in Europe to promote Gender Equal Cities, from presentations during the European Week for Regions and Cities in October, to online training sessions for URBACT cities and beyond.
The momentum will continue next year as the new network: Gendered Landscape - a spin-off of the Gender Equal Cities work, as it enters its implementation phase. Led by the city of Umeå (SE), the network aims to develop new initiatives and projects with an understanding of gendered power structures in six other cities.
Contributing a city-level perspective to EU policy
Next July, Germany will take on the crucial role of president of the European Council. URBACT will continue to work alongside the German Federal Ministry of Urban Affairs to input into the renewal of the Leipzig Charter. In 2007 this founding document underlined the principles of sustainability, integration and participation – all concepts that are now taken for granted by urban policymakers, but can still remain unclear to city practitioners. Between autumn 2018 and May 2020, URBACT organised a series of City Labs to explore what these principles mean for cities nowadays and what else should be in the refreshed Leipzig Charter.
During the City Labs in Lisbon (PT), Brussels (BE) and Warsaw (PL), participants highlighted the impact of new global challenges on cities. They stressed that the climate crisis, migration flows, growing inequalities and distrust in government not only require new principles and words enshrined in documents, they also mean new ways of working for urban practitioners, closer to citizens, especially the most vulnerable. In addition, decision-makers need to accompany these fundamental changes with new policies, funding and regulations.
City Lab on integrated policymaking in Warsaw, October 2018
The next City Lab will look at the concept of balanced territorial development during the Cities Forum in Porto in January before a final event in spring 2020.
Networks closing and opening cycles: a learning rollercoasteré
The last call for networks of URBACT III saw 23 new Action Planning networks approved. Bringing together existing URBACT cities and newcomers, the networks will continue their action planning in 2020 to tackle issues such as homelessness, climate change and urban security.
On top of their regular transnational meetings, city practitioners and local stakeholders will gather during URBACT Summer University. Bringing together more than 500 city leaders, this flagship URBACT event will equip the networks with the right tools to develop their integrated action plans whilst motivating and inspiring them to take action.
These tools are only a sneak preview of the forthcoming URBACT TOOLBOX that will be available on our website in early 2020. This one-stop-shop for cities will gather all the tested tools of the now well established URBACT method.
URBACT method in 3 minutes
There is more to come in the second half of 2020. After going through an inward-looking process by which our 23 transfer networks have dismantled a Good Practice to assess how best to replicate it in other contexts, they should be ready this summer to share their findings with the rest of the world!
These Good Practices are among the 23 selected from 97 entries submitted during an open call in 2016-17. In other words, this six month ‘sharing period’ will showcase the best of the best of URBACT’s networks – so stay tuned!
These were some of the rumours found to be circulating in Amadora… not unfamiliar comments heard in many cities across Europe.
Indeed, immigration continues to be one of the most prominent political issues in Europe. In recent years the exceptional migratory flows together with the global economic crisis have inflamed political extremism and led to growing distrust from local communities towards migrant populations - both established and new. Voters in many countries consider immigration to be one of the most pressing challenges facing their country, and ‘radical right’ political parties who oppose immigration continue to find support in many countries
Amadora, a dynamic and multicultural municipality located in Lisbon’s North Metropolitan area decided that it was time to do something about these unfounded rumours. A local network of people and organisations set out to spread more positive and factually accurate messages about the city and it’s inhabitants.
Do Not Feed the Rumour was the communications campaign and programme of integration activities developed and implemented by Amadora in 2014-15, through participation in the Council of Europe (CoE) project “Communication for Integration: social networking for diversity (C4I)” - a network of 11 cities from 7 European countries. Based upon practice originally developed in Barcelona, Amadora produced their own bespoke and holistic approach to an anti-rumour strategy. This approach directly and assertively addresses the issue of prejudice and misinformation through dispelling rumours and deconstructing stereotypes. It also emphasises the potential and positivity of cultural diversity, both promoting inclusion and strengthening community cohesion.
Amadora firstly undertook a process of local intelligence gathering in order to discover what were the most common rumours being spread locally and to compile the factual (counter-rumour) information. Based on this research, they developed a targeted anti-rumour strategy composed of a viral communications campaign with a strong visual identity, public actions, community discussions, participatory art and theatre workshops and a schools programme. 28 local people attended specialised training to become ‘anti-rumour agents’ and these people acted as advocates for the programme, becoming trainers in their own organisations, cascading knowledge and skills throughout local communities. A perception change evaluation was built into the programme in order to measure the effectiveness of the activities.
All of this was underpinned by the creation of a strong local network and process of co-production with local stakeholders active in the planning and implementation of the campaign. The project in Amadora involved 75 organisations and reached about 2,500 people. Local participation and political support were key to the success of the campaign.
According to Carla Tavares, Mayor of Amadora, "It is a project that is intended to continue in a natural and informal way throughout the city. All of us - local authorities, associations and citizens - have some work to do to demystify the many rumors that still exist in our society"
"School communities, associations and groups in our municipality now have a better awareness regarding the diversity and individuality of each one of us. Even if outsiders do not look at Amadora differently, at least those who are here are proud of their city and realise that this difference we have is what distinguishes us and distinguishes positively. So, in this way the campaign was a catalyst to a new approach to inter-culturality."
Do Not Feed the Rumour has been recognised by URBACT as a good practice and now Amadora is very excited to be sharing experiences, ideas and a passion for the practice with other European cities through the URBACT Transfer network, Rumourless Cities - a partnership of seven cities - Amadora (PT) (Lead Partner), Cardiff (UK), Hamburg-Altona (DE) , Warsaw (PL), Alba Iulia (RO), Ioaninna (GR) and Messina (IT). Rumourless Cities is one of 25 transfer networks approved by URBACT to support the understanding, adaption and reuse of good practice from cities across Europe through process of peer support and capacity building.
According to Dina Moreira, programme manager of Do Not Feed the Rumour, “We in Amadora have had such a successful experience with positive results. We are keen to take the opportunity to continue sharing with other cities facing similar challenges and problems and at the same time develop and improve what we are doing in our own territory.” Indeed it was intended that an outcome of the C4I programme would be that participating cities would subsequently form new partnerships and networks to transfer and share anti-rumour strategies. This is becoming a reality through Rumourless Cities.
While Amadora focused on countering rumours around immigration and immigrants, this network will see the approach adapted and reused to counter existing and growing negative attitudes towards a wider cross section of groups in society which includes long established migrants (Third country nationals), Roma, recently arrived refugees, LGBT people, and general homophobic stereotyping.
In addition to learning from and adapting practice from Amadora, partner cities will be bringing their own approaches and innovation to anti-rumour activity. For example, Warsaw aims to develop an app and city game focused on combatting prejudice and Cardiff aims to tie in an anti-rumour campaign with developing a new and inclusive narrative for the city. In fact, all partners will bring their own unique contexts, expertise and initiative to the network to create a web of experience and ideas sharing.
Rumourless Cities will create a rich learning and exchange programme for cities to learn from the good practice Do Not Feed the Rumour and to thereby address some urgent challenges facing cities around cohesion, inclusion and the rise of fake news. It deals with some of the critical challenges of our time:
How to build cohesive and open cities
How to counter the false stereotypes that lead to racist caricatures and growth of far right groups
How to balance the needs of new arrivals with “native” citizens experiencing difficulties
How to communicate truth in a “post fact” context that is generated by popular mainstream media
Despite European anti-discrimination legislation being among the most extensive in the world, the findings of the EU Fundamental Rights Report (2018) confirm that discrimination and unequal treatment on different grounds remain realities in key areas of life throughout the EU. Discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin continues to be regarded as the most widespread form of discrimination in the EU (64%), followed by discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (58%), gender identity (56%), religion or belief (50%), disability (50%), age (being over 55 years old, 42%) and gender (37%).
According to a Eurobarometer survey (2016), Europeans as a whole consider immigration the second (after terrorism) most important issue facing the bloc. A 2016 YouGov poll showed that 52% of Italians, 47% of French 44% of Germans and 38% of Spaniards agree that their country “doesn’t feel like home anymore”. The majority of Belgian, French, German and Italian people support the idea of ending migration from all mainly Muslim countries.
The issue of community cohesion has become a hot issue not just because there has been a steep increase in numbers of migrants but it is also linked to the growing concerns regarding security, which in turn is linked to the rise of extremism. With high levels of labour migration to many western European countries, as well as continuing pressure to accept refugees and asylum seekers from war zones around the world and a future of rising climate change induced migration, this topic is unlikely to lose its significance in the foreseeable future.
It is more important than ever that cities join forces look beyond their own limits in order to find already worked out solutions to these difficult issues and work together to maintain peaceful, open societies.
The joint policy challenge of the Come in! Transfer network partner cities is to mobilise citizens, foster civilian power and urban stewardship through raising awareness towards the values of built heritage to decrease social isolation. This also highlights the brokerage role of municipalities (reating conditions for stakeholders to creatively shape urban environment and public policies).
CityLogo is a transnational learning experience on citybranding and -marketing in modern urban politics. It is about a better positioning of cities in the (post) crisis economic arena and reinforcing the communication dimension in urban management.