A more inclusive ICC network for Portugal
The Portuguese Network of Intercultural Cities (RPCI) met for the second time on February 20th, with an enlarged number of cities participating. Present were the municipalities of Amadora, Azambuja, Beja, Cascais, Coimbra, Lisbon, Loures, Santa Maria da Feira, Setúbal and Portimão, the Portuguese High Commission for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue (ACIDI) as well as coordinator of the Spanish network of Intercultural Cities (RECI) Daniel de Torres.
The objectives of the meeting were to involve a greater number of cities in the network, enable practice exchange between them, in particular, through the ICC Index assessment tool, and approve a network action plan.
Cities showcased their policies and activities in the field of interculturalism. Lisbon, part of the European network of the ICC, detailed the work done in the Mouraria neighbourhood, which functioned as the city’s intercultural laboratory, as well as activities in the field of policing and safety.
Coimbra, Beja, Santa Maria da Feira, Loures and Setúbal outlined distinct challenges they faced due to their populations, geography, and migrant population profile (Beja, for example, is a mainly rural municipality, Loures is part of the metropolitan area of Lisbon and one of the most populous in Portugal) and had interesting practices to show.
Beja, as a demographically old municipality, clearly sees immigration as an opportunity for its territory. Previously, a large community of Germans based around the airfield had brought prosperity. Santa Maria da Feira organises contact missions of local businessmen to countries of origin of the immigrants living in the town, thanks to contacts established through them. In Setubal, the division responsible for immigration is part of the same department as education, culture and sport, meaning these areas of the city’s life take into account the diversity of its population. Loures has over twenty years of history of welcoming migrants, cooperating for this with the central governments of a number of Portuguese speaking countries.
Rosário Farmhouse, the High Commissioner for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue, talked about the vast body of work her organisation (ACIDI) has completed since its creation, in particular when it comes to thematic programmes in the areas of mediation, media, entrepreneurship and employment, positive neighbouring, youth and sport. It is worth mentioning that ACIDI is an inter-ministerial structure which reports directly to the head of government. It has two main centres for immigrants, in Lisbon and Oporto. In these centres (CNAII) a variety of issues affecting foreign citizen’s lives are dealt with, from basic registration and citizenship issues to more specific ones such as education, businesses or language courses. The functioning of these centres is replicated at local level (CLAII), with 83 municipalities currently housing such centres.
At the end of the day, the possibility of using the Index through the network of CLAII was discussed, which could give Portugal a large number of cities involved in the indicator. The Portuguese ICC adopted an action plan (Portuguese version).