Building intercultural competence
Intercultural competence is the ability to understand and respect each other across all types of cultural barriers.
Intercultural competences refer to the set of knowledge and skills necessary for people and organisations to act in an intercultural way in diverse societies.
What do we mean by intercultural competences in public administration?
The Intercultural Cities Index incorporates intercultural competence as an indicator of intercultural cities’ performance. Public officials in an ideal intercultural city should be able to detect and respond comprehensively to the challenges posed by cultural differences, and modulate their approach accordingly, rather than trying to impose a single model of behaviour on all actions.
Recommendation CM/Rec(2022)10 on multilevel policies and governance for intercultural integration (adopted by consensus by the Committee of Ministers on 6 April 2022) states that “[…] institutions and organisations should develop intercultural competences and attitudes among their staff, encouraging them to acquire the skills to enable constructive exchanges, dialogue and co-design based on shared values and goals […]”
The Steering Committee on Andi-discrimination, Diversity and Inclusion has further stressed that having an interculturally competent staff in public administration becomes even more relevant in the contexts of geopolitical, sanitary and climate crisis. However, public officials may not always be prepared to meet the demands and needs generated by a diverse population.
To overcome these barriers, the Committee of Experts on the intercultural integration of migrants has produced a Manual for designing intercultural competence training that specifically focuses on communicating to the participants the value of intercultural integration and on spreading it further, as well as on reinforcing their skills to tackle prejudice and stereotypes, and to identify and address multiple discrimination. The manual further discusses ways to foster inclusive communication, provides practical tips to trainers on creating a “judgment-free”, stimulating environment and proposes model quizzes and exercises.
The ICC programme has further developed specific resources for city officers that will allow them advancing further in the building of strong intercultural territories through better municipal services, increased users’ satisfaction and greater trust and sense of belonging.
Assessing the potential of draft policies, project proposals, or actions entailing the involvement of human and financial resources is a necessary but difficult process for public authorities. The Intercultural Cities programme offers all member cities three easy-to-use intercultural checklists and a full guide to check if their planned or proposed project, policies or actions are intercultural compared to the three principles of intercultural integration: real equality, diversity advantage and meaningful interaction. The intercultural checklists and guide could also be used to evaluate completed projects, or projects submitted to the city by partners for possible funding. City coordinators, working groups, civil society and other interested parties who complete the intercultural checklists will find questions to consider, good practice examples from the Intercultural Cities network as well as feedback and scoring at the end.
The checklist can be accessed either through the three online checklists below or through the written guide.
- Intercultural citizenship test – For residents and public officials alike
- Guide on Intercultural Competences (+ Spanish version) – September 2020
- Intercultural competencies applied to the development of public administration projects: Guide (+ Spanish version), and videotutorial (multilingual subtitles) – January 2021
- Intercultural competence manual for trainers: English/Ukrainian + English – December 2020
- An introduction to the Intercultural City for Local Governments in Japan - March 2021 (+ Japanese version)
- Challenges of Interculturalism: Guidelines for a training module (December 2018)