Covid-19 is confronting both citizens and public authorities with a situation which was so far unknown by the present generations. Yet, as most critical situations, this time brings in both challenges and opportunities.
From the perspective of local authorities acting interculturally in diverse societies, the safety measures imposed by the spread of Covid19 virus and disease pose emergency challenges linked to access to health care and related information; keeping contact, interaction and community work alive; countering discrimination, prejudice and hate speech, to quote only some.
Besides, a long-term approach to the challenges that may arise from the present situation after the Covid19 crises unavoidably brings in other dimensions focussing notably on human rights, equality and diversity, social inclusion and poverty. These are challenges that interculturalism may help to address in conjunction with legal standards and other settings, but they require preparatory actions already now, to foster community cohesion and sense of belonging despite social distancing.
These recent months have been marked by difficulties and distress for some, but also by creativity and resilience that have helped both the citizens and their local authorities to adapt relatively fast to a new setting. Some of the measures so far adopted have shown unprecedented courage on matters where advancement was not easy before. This is the case of measures such as the temporary regularisation of migrants to ensure they benefit from free health care; the allocation of work permits and unemployment allowances to migrants working in the agriculture; the building of hosting facilities for homeless people including migrants; the public recognition of the solidarity effort showed by the migrant communities who fundraised for the host health systems, and many more.
What can be learnt from the experience of cities in view of transforming the exceptional measures taken into a sustainable effort? Which lessons can be drawn? Which society do we want to shape for the post Covid era?
To discuss these issues the ICC team has convened all ICC member cities to an online meeting on 23 April. The working language will be English.