The successful cities of the future will be those best able to harness the talent and energy of their diverse citizens, while ensuring real equality, non-discrimination, and meaningful intercultural interaction.

Realising the Diversity Advantage involves a commitment by the public authorities to recognise and preserve diversity as an intrinsic feature of human communities; and to pursue the ‘diversity advantage’ that accrues from the presence of diversity when coupled with specific policies and strategies that enable diverse contributions to shape the cultural, economic and social fabric of the city, and to manage conflicts which may threaten community cohesion.

Ensuring Real Equality involves a commitment to non-discrimination in all public actions, towards cities’ own workforce, in their relations with partners and suppliers, including civil society organisations and enterprises; and to direct policies and resources to everyone, based on need.

Promoting meaningful Intercultural Interaction involves creating conditions for positive and constructive everyday encounters across cultural as well as gender, sexual identity, age, socio-economic status and other differences, where active engagement across difference, rather than benign indifference, is the necessary building block of a thriving society.

Cities can minimise the threats and maximise the potential of diversity by developing, negotiating and implementing a comprehensive strategy to realise its diversity advantage.

The Intercultural Cities programme helps cities and regions to devise such strategies cutting across institutional silos and mobilising leaders, policy officers, professionals, businesses and civil society behind a new model of integration based on the mixing and interaction between people from different ethnic, religious and linguistic backgrounds.

The programme helps cities to:

  • Create a sense of pluralistic identity embracing cultural pluralism and the complexity of identities through leadership discourse and symbolic actions based on the pride and appreciation of the city diversity.
  • Set up a governance model empowering all members of the community, regardless of their origin or status, to develop their potential, realise their talents and enable them to contribute to local prosperity.
  • Promote participation and power-sharing, involving people of diverse origins in decision-making in urban institutions, be they political, educational, social, economic or cultural.
  • Open up spaces and opportunities for deep interaction and co-creation between people of different cultural origins and backgrounds, to build trust, cohesion and solidarity, and thus realise the creative potential of diversity.
  • Foster intercultural competence and empower intercultural innovators in public, private and civil-society organisations.
  • Manage conflict, busting stereotypes and engage in a debate about the impact and potential of diversity for local development.

The Intercultural cities programme provides expert and peer support to public authorities which chose to learn how to better manage diversity and benefit from the diversity advantage. It offers an internationally tested and validated methodology and a set of analytical and learning tools, and helps with re-shaping city policies and services to make them more effective in a diverse context.

Below is a set of examples of services and activities cities can benefit from. It should be noted, however, that the programme works in a very open, flexible way, adapting to the needs and expectations of individual cities.

examples of services and activities