“We are at a crossroad when it comes to the polarisation in our society, and cities and regions will be key in making sure we take the right path”, warned Thomas Andersson, Chair of the Current Affairs Committee (Sweden, ILDG), at the 4th European Policy Dialogue Forum, under the theme ‘Social inclusion in cities: Strengthening multi-stakeholder partnerships to bring communities into dialogue’, on 9-10 November 2022 in Barcelona, Spain.
Speaking during a plenary session on “Cities: key challenges and trends of creating integrated communities: where should we be investing?”, the Chair recognised that over the past two decades, there has been a stark increase in hate speech towards migrants and refugees, expressions of radicalisation and terrorism and movements questioning the rights of women and LGBTI persons. “We all have our responsibility to act for better social inclusion and integration in our European societies. This demands strong cooperation between civil society, faith communities and local authorities”, he stressed.
“The Congress is devoted to be a part of this work towards more inclusive societies and is convinced that cities and regions, given the right tools, are crucial in realising this”, Mr Andersson concluded, highlighting existing Congress work related to inclusion and social cohesion notably the toolkit for interfaith dialogue at local level, the report on the reception of women and children refugees, adopted during its recent 43rd session, and the its 2020 report threats to the rights of LGBTI persons.
Council of Europe Special Representative on Antisemitic and Anti-Muslin Hatred and Hate Crimes, Dr. Daniel Höltgen, also participated in this plenary session. A further plenary session was held on multi-stakeholder partnerships on migration in the context of current European migration initiatives, which brought together various national experts, academics and the Executive Director of the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe, Mr Afonso Malheiro.