After almost 60 years of migration, many Swedish citizens who have been living in the country for generations are still considered as temporary guests or not fully members of the Swedish society. The understanding of what and who the Swedish society really should include needs to change.
Botkyrka municipality, the most ethnically diverse municipality in Sweden, took the lead to promote such a change and started working to create the same possibilities and life opportunities for all individuals to enable all citizens to fully express their identities as a prerequisite for the growth and sustainable development of the city. To do so, Botkyrka chose an innovative approach to diversity: the intercultural policy model. Being an intercultural competent city means thinking, acting and planning in an intercultural manner. And this includes the involvement of all sectors of the municipality in the coordinated development of intercultural actions and policies.
The first key element of an intercultural competent approach is a clear political commitment. In Botkyrka such a political commitment is shared by all political parties based on an inclusive approach to democracy. A cross-party consensus on intercultural integration is fundamental to ensure the long-term implementation of the related policies.
Another key to a successful implementation of the intercultural approach is the development of a critical, systematic and constructive analysis of the practices and activities within the administration, at both strategic and operational levels.
The third and last key is to set up a global strategy for inclusive integration, and to regularly monitor it. The global intercultural strategy of the city of Botkyrka is based on the following components:
- Political consensus on the value of interculturality.
- The implementation of an Intercultural strategy
- Annual and multi annual political goals, and follow up analysis
- Guidelines to all the departments within the municipality
- Recognition of intercultural competence as a key component of human resources (for both employees and leaders)
- Capacity building and specific intercultural training for political representatives: basic knowledge on Swedish anti-discrimination law, human rights, interculturality and gender equality
- Capacity building of new employed directors, managers and process leaders, human rights specialists, and citizens (through a web-course that has been specifically developed for the purpose)
- Development of anti-discrimination and equality data and indicators
- Periodic “Dilemma” workshops with a view to learn from case-studies.
The creation of growth and a sustainable society requires an intercultural community characterised by interaction between individuals and groups. The intercultural policy model can help cities to successfully face this challenge.