The NET-IDEA Project is the result of an important European partnership composed of four national networks of intercultural cities (Italian Network Cities of Dialogue, Spanish Network of Intercultural Cities, Portuguese Network of Intercultural Cities and ICC Sweden), which have promoted the creation of a space for dialogue and cooperation between fourteen member cities and the municipalities of Erlangen, which is heavily involved in the in-house training of its officials on the promotion and management of diversity, in Germany, and Lublin, the next European Youth Capital and frontline witness of a European reception policy for the Ukrainian population, in Poland.
The sixteen NET-IDEA cities are all part of the Council of Europe’s ICC Programme and many of them play an active role within the Programme, by virtue of the good practices that have developed from the application of the principles of interculturalism and are witnesses to a virtuous institutional pathway that can easily serve as an example for other European cities.
In addition to Erlangen and Lublin, the Spanish cities of Barcelona, Bilbao, Castellon de la Plana, Donostia and Tenerife have joined NET-IDEA. Tenerife, since 2001, has created OBITen, an observatory that promotes scientific research on migration movements on the island. OBITen is based on an intercultural approach and aims to expand to all levels of society, creating spaces for dialogue and sharing between citizens, experts and political leaders, with a focus also on the development of intercultural competences in the youth population.
The Cities of Dialogue Network is represented by the cities of Turin, Modena, Pontedera and Reggio Emilia, which will host the international meeting of the European ICC Network in November.
The Portuguese Network, which celebrates ten years of life and history in 2022, is represented by three northern cities: Santa Maria da Feira, Vila Verde and Braga, which is very committed to promoting cultural diversity in schools, through initiatives such as the Project ‘Braga: an intercultural journey’, in which Human Library sessions were promoted in schools (in presence or online) of the municipality with the aim of activating dialogue and respect for human rights and combating stereotypes in the school system.
Finally, the Swedish Network is represented by the cities of Linkoping and Botkyrka, which has the highest ICC Index among the NET-IDEA member cities (83%). Botkyrka has long included the intercultural approach with a focus on gender equality, human rights and freedom from oppression and violence in its strategies and public policies. To ensure that this approach permeates all aspects of public life, the parties tend to create common strategies with an intercultural approach that can be applied in their respective programmes. This is also reflected in the approach with young people: each party, following its values, presents a programme for the youth population that includes an intercultural approach focusing on sports, entrepreneurship and leadership activities.
The sixteen NET-IDEA cities and the four national networks will meet on 19 and 20 September in Barcelona for a first dialogue and training meeting where a strategy for training and a plan to activate thematic technical cooperation processes will be defined. At the Barcelona meeting, the first preliminary results of the survey on intercultural competences will also be presented, which was carried out with the participation of more than thirty people including civil servants, civil society representatives, youth associations and representatives of migrant communities.
Thanks to NET-IDEA, progress continues to be made towards the consolidation of intercultural and inclusive cities in a complicated and adverse international context.