The handbook “Valuing religious communities as key actors of social cohesion”, edited by Fondazione Mondinsieme in collaboration with the Municipalities of Reggio Emilia and Novellara, thanks to an inter-city ICC grant, is already available in English, French, Italian and Arabic.
It intends to support public administrations in managing increasingly complex local contexts, where religious pluralism is one of the fundamental aspects for the promotion of intercultural dialogue. Well-oriented governance strategies can not only effectively tackle these complexities, but also transform religious pluralism into a resource for the whole community.
The handbook includes indications on potential concrete actions that could be put in place by local authorities to foster the creation of intercultural contexts and to make the places of worship potential interlocutors in the cities. It deals with the issue by referring to different areas: the regulatory and guidance tools by supranational institutions; the relationship between religion and public space; the relationship that local authorities can build with the different religious communities, by managing the so-called community welfare (social, health and education dimensions).
Experts and academics at Italian and international level offered their expertise through thematic focuses, providing insights and suggestions which could inspire further considerations on the subject. The publication includes the outcomes of a questionnaire launched in September 2020 and targeting the cities belonging to the Intercultural Cities (ICC) programme and the twin cities of the leading municipalities. Officials from 25 local administrations answered the survey, 17 of them belonging to the ICC network. The questionnaire allowed to collect significant practices from Europe and from outside, including Africa (Pemba in Mozambique and Ekurhuleni in South Africa), Asia (Hamamatsu in Japan and Beit Jala in the West Bank) and America (Montreal, Canada). These city experiences guided the analysis and some of them have been included in the handbook as inspiring practices.