Manlleu, Spain - Intercultural City
Manlleu, the capital of the Ter river, is a town located in the central part of the Osona region. Close to Barcelona and Girona, this thousand-year-old city with its own identity and exceptional industrial past has become a diverse, intercultural host city that seeks a balance between economic activity and natural heritage, between the residential and social dimensions, and that values services and facilities in a sustainable way.
The River Ter has defined the city's boundaries and is part of its landscape and urban development. The past, present and future of Manlleu have a direct relationship with the river, which has been and is a witness to the technological and social advances and changes of the town.
Manlleu is a small town with 20,804 inhabitants (in July 2021), in which more than 60 nationalities live together. 23.9% of the residents are of foreign nationality and 77% are of African descent. The arrival of foreigners and their integration into Manlleu society is a challenge and a factor of change for the city. The municipality works with an eye on the social cohesion of the city and its environment, and also strives to have a society where equal opportunities are a reality in order to live this social mix as an opportunity.
In 2004, Manlleu drew up the Diversity Management Plan, which established the municipal policy for managing the migratory phenomenon with the aim of having a more plural, democratic and respectful local society. In April 2018, needing to update the Diversity Management Plan, the plenary session of the City Council unanimously approved the new Plan for the Promotion of Coexistence in Diversity in Manlleu 2019-2023. This new plan defines the political strategy to be followed in the coming years to strengthen relations of respect, trust and community collaboration throughout the city, recognising and valuing the diverse cultures, languages, origins, ages and functions that share life in the municipality.
A key element in overcoming some of the difficulties of integration and managing diversity are young people; according to the study "Young people of immigrant origin in Catalonia. Needs and demands: a sociological approach", the success of the emancipation process of young people with an immigrant background depends, to a large extent, on the degree of cohesion and inclusion of the future society. Young children of immigrant parents are a motor for change and it is important to know how to take advantage of their potential, as their roots in the territory are very different from those of their parents.
Manlleu has a goal: to create an inclusive city, strong and proud of its diversity. Managing diversity is the challenge of today's democratic societies and for this reason the city works to foster positive relationships and respect among an increasingly diverse population.
Àlex GARRIDO SERRA