European cities are becoming ever more diverse with new migrants arriving and contributing to their growth in a variety of ways. As key actors in supporting migrants integrate into their new societies, city governments have to constantly adapt to the needs of new population groups and to capitalise on the diversity of their population.
This is where the Diversity and Equality in European Cities (DIVE) project links in as a project facilitating learning on innovative approaches to local integration governance that enables cities to meet these challenges.Diversity and Equality in European Cities (DIVE)
Led by EUROCITIES, the network of major cities in Europe, DIVE brought together the member cities of Amsterdam, Rome, Leeds, Berlin and London as well as expert partners Migration Policy Group and ethical partnership in a benchmarking and peer reviewing exercise on diversity and equality policies in the field of migrant integration.
Starting from the principle that integration requires mutual accommodation between established residents and migrants, the DIVE project focused on policies for the promotion of diversity and equality within the context of local integration strategies in city governments.
DIVE looked at how cities can effectively implement policies that embrace diversity and create equal opportunities, allowing them to harness the benefits of a diverse population.
The project identified four key roles in which local authorities can promote diversity and equality: as employers, as policy-makers, as service providers and as buyers of goods and services. These four areas were chosen to provide local decision-makers with concrete recommendations on how to eliminate obstacles to capitalise on their diverse populations.
Be it in Berlin or Rome, cities experience similar challenges in incorporating diversity and equality principles in their policy development and in designing services. Whether it is ensuring that their staff have the necessary skills to deal with a diverse customer-base when delivering services or that their suppliers of goods and services respect diversity and equality principles. The responses to these challenges depend on the local and national context within which these cities operate. DIVE appreciated that such differences in context result in varying approaches and took this into account when making its analysis.
The aim of the project was to provide recommendations in the four identified areas which can be applied in any city across Europe, regardless of its specific context. In the report’s pages, you can explore the outcomes of this process. After an overview of the benchmark developed by the DIVE partners, a detailed analysis of each of the four areas follows highlighting common challenges and potential recommendations. Good practice examples from each of the peer reviewed cities are put forward which may act as inspiration for local
authorities in planning or adapting their future policies and services.
Developed under the lead of the Migration Policy Group (MPG) and with input from the project partners, the benchmark used in the DIVE project provided the standards to which cities aspired and against which performance was measured in the four fields under review. Peer reviews in the four European cities of Amsterdam, Berlin, Leeds and Rome then applied this jointly defined benchmark to learn from each other and to assess how each city was performing.
The peer review teams consisted of local integration practitioners from the city partners, the benchmarking and peer review experts and the project coordinator. Each peer review started with a self-assessment of the city under review against the standards set out in the benchmark in an Initial Report. The peers then started their assessment by a Desk Review of the Initial Report, leading to first hypotheses of how the city was performing against the benchmark based on the evidence provided.
The core phase of the peer review then followed with a 4-day visit to the city under review. Here, peers tested their Desk Review hypotheses by interviewing staff of the city’s administration and meeting external stakeholders in a workshop setting. Following intensive evidence gathering, the peer review team then wrote up their findings and recommendations in a Feedback Report.
The final step consisted of the presentation of the findings to the city by a peer. The peer review approach facilitates transnational learning by allowing staff members of city administrations to exchange their knowledge and experiences with a structured and focused analysis methodology. The role of the benchmark is to provide a standard, which moves away from context-specific local knowledge and produces de-contextualised knowledge that can be applied in other places.
Peer reviewing and benchmarking in the field of local integration governance is an innovative and efficient tool for mutual learning. Through the feedback of an international team of practitioners, each peer reviewed city gains a deeper insight into the range of policy options and a comprehensive perspective of how its city is performing. Coming from “critical friends” that face similar challenges in their own daily work and understand well the constraints within which cities have to realise their ambitions, this feedback is often appreciated more easily and is more effective in its impact than expensive consultancy reports. The peers themselves also learn, as they are exposed to different practices in other major European cities and have the opportunity to be inspired by other cities’ approaches, bringing back new ideas to their own jobs.