Without the inclusion of citizens in the political processes, there can be no democracy. The city of Turin is tackling this issue head on, ensuring that even the most vulnerable social groups can be heard.
The re-define policies and improvement of their coordination has a special urgency at a time when social inequality is growing amid a climate of fear that threatens to widen social divides into yawning chasms.
Turin has defined two major objectives: the fight against any form of discrimination (in particular racism) and the building of spaces, tools and policies to ensure equal and free participation in the democratic process and strengthen a sense of community in the city.
To this end, Turin adopted, on 20 March, the new ‘Guidelines for cultural diversity and participation’, a framework for the public administration to set up a participatory environment for defining rules, rights, duties and behaviours needed for living together in a diverse society.
The Guidelines outline a three-pillar strategy:
- First and foremost, the public administration is creating internal change. A new Political Steering Committee and Technical Working Group will coordinate the city’s services and offices. Both bodies will provide not only a strong vehicle for transferring knowledge and practices, for raising the quality of intercultural actions and projects and for coordinating policies of different offices, but – most importantly – they will give the different services a space to jointly work on the needs and requests expressed by communities.
- The second pillar focuses on the creation of Communities Working Groups. These groups can be nationality-based, religion-based or created according to any other form of identity (second generation, women with migrant background, etc). Flexible structure, a problem-solving approach and dialogue between the local authority and community are the key-words for these spaces of dialogue, co-planning, project drafting and evaluation.
- Finally, the third pillar is activities and projects jointly organised by the local authority and community associations. For the first years, the cooperation will focus on the most important religious or secular holidays of individual communities (New Year for the Chinese community, Open Mosque for the Islamic community, Day of Religious Freedom for Valdese believers, and so on). The specific aim is to further increase mutual trust and knowledge between offices and communities' representatives, increase the communities' public visibility as well as empower the communities' members and representatives.
On top of all this, the city will set up a ‘City coordination body for intercultural planning’, to give space to all associations, citizens and institutions wishing to work on intercultural and interreligious dialogue. Inclusion cannot be a passive process, cities feel the responsibility to take action to make sure that the concerns of all residents, even the most vulnerable, are represented at the highest levels.
Click here to read the guidelines in full (Italian only).