[EN] Video Transcript

Hello everybody. I would like to share with you some thoughts about the importance of intercultural cities.

In the Euro-Mediterranean region, cities have traditionally been places of intercultural encounters for people from diverse backgrounds. Globalization, urbanization and human movements provide increasing opportunities in the region for fruitful intercultural dialogue, but also carry challenges and threats. In fact, the successful management of diversity is one of the biggest challenges for cities in the 21st century.

According to the findings of the Anna Lindh report the majority of people both in north and south consider that diversity is an asset  to a society and can even become a competitive advantage if correctly managed.

If unmanaged, it can become a source of instability, and a threat to social cohesion.

But how do we successfully manage diversity?

How do we transform our societies from multicultural, which is a static notion of a group identity, to intercultural, which is a dynamic participative process where all citizens have equal rights, have access to goods and services,  and participate in joint activities.

Participation, mixing, interaction are the key words for a successful management of diversity.

The question is: where, with whom and through what can we better succeed this management?

Where? Where do people from diverse backgrounds meet in a city?

Well, according to the report, people in northern countries meet primarily in public spaces and neighborhoods, where southern and eastern countries meet through the internet, social media and tourism. So, cities must think of creating open and welcoming to all citizens’ public spaces.

In fact, people must feel that they belong to places, rather than places belonging to people, which is the beginning of the creation of ghettos.

Youth and school children, according to the report, seem to be the most perceptive target group for implementing policies in favor of intercultural dialogue. So, education clearly seems to be the privileged field, the most fertile ground where we should plant the seeds of acceptance, of tolerance, of respect, of the other and the different.

Youth, it’s true, wishes to travel, to discover, to communicate.

We have then to intensify all programs promoting these exchanges, including the Erasmus program and to create, and to extend it to civil society, creating a social Erasmus program for the Euro-Med region It is also important to remember migrants and refugees and their importance as agents of dialogue, as human bridges between the country of origin and the hosting country.

Finally, art and creativity, according to the report, seem to be the most powerful tool<b>in the promotion of dialogue among diverse populations in a city.

As a universal language that binds all people and transcends barriers, art and creativity connect us to each other.

So we may easily imagine that if we organize, in public spaces, intercultural artistic events, with the participation of youth, then, we optimize the benefits of our intercultural policies.

Cities in fact can become the ideal laboratories for cross-cultural fertilization and this report indeed provides valuable information for cities in the management of their diversities.

The creation of the Euro-Mediterranean capital of dialogue award can become not only an important incentive and an important acknowledgement for cities with successful intercultural policies but also an incentive for other cities to participate and adopt similar policies.

In a most turbulent period of our recent history driven by a clash of ignorance Anna Lindh must intensify its efforts in favor of intercultural cities in order to help them build upon their diversity, to realize their potential, to fuel their creativity, resorting to new social and economic models, redesigning a future of shared prosperity, stability and peace in the Euro-Mediterranean region.

Thank you for your attention.