Tag Archive for shared societies

Sustainability matters: the Equator Prize 2015 and Shared Societies

Equator Prize

 

On December 7th, the Equator Prize 2015 Award Ceremony took place in Paris. This year the Price was awarded to 21 outstanding local and indigenous initiatives that are advancing innovative solutions for people, nature and resilient communities.Winning organizations come from Asia, Latin America and the Sub-Sahara Africa. Each winning initiative received US$ 10,000 and was supported to participate in a series of special events at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, France in December 2015.

The Equator Prize was established in 2002 and there are now 87 winner organizations from 70 different countries. The Equator Prize is awarded biennially to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities. As local and indigenous groups across the world chart a path towards sustainable development. The Prize is part of the action plan of the Equator Initiative, a partnership that brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses, and grassroots organizations to build the capacity and raise the profile of local efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Other initiatives include the so-called Equator Dialogues and Equator Knowledge, a research, documentation and learning program.

In this regard, the Club de Madrid has established a working group to examine the link between Shared Societies and Environmental Sustainability. The Shared Societies Project contends that the common basis for sustainable development is a socially inclusive process based in the achievement of Shared Societies. The Post-2015 Development Process has given the debate impetus, as the implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require a reorientation of all aspects of development

We, at the Club de Madrid, believe that the common basis for sustainable development is a socially inclusive process based on the achievement of Shared Societies. For this reason, the Club has convened a working group to examine how a more inclusive participative and shared society can provide the framework in which social,economic and environmental wellbeing can be realized for all.

 

Rumours at the Local Level

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Daniel de Torres, former Commissioner for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue at Barcelona City Administration and lead author of the recent Club de Madrid publication “Local Government for Shared Societies”, has just published an article on the Spanish news website eldiario.es. In this article, “Sobre rumores y goteras” (About rumors and leaks), the former Commissioner puts forth a proposal to build Shared Societies as one of the great challenges of our time.

De Torres argues that, in a context of increasing cultural diversity, an intercultural model, as followed by the Council of Europe in its “Intercultural Cities” project, must take into account the equality principles based on “citizens’ rights, responsibilities and social opportunities.” He explained that we should go beyond “diversity celebrations and food exchanges” working on areas such as education, culture, city planning and economy.

The author’s vision of Shared Societies also includes the importance of addressing subjective feelings such as “prejudices, stereotypes and ignorance.” The project “Anti-rumours Strategy” was undertaken in Barcelona in 2010 to quickly refute rumours before they became embedded in the community and it has quickly spread to different European countries.

The great impact of this initiative in Spain has rendered it to be now found in 12 countries throughout Europe, as reports the Spanish newspaper El País in an article titled “Usted Puede Ser Agente Antibulos,” (You may be an anti-rumor agent) encouraging the public to become active anti-bullying participants in their communities. In the city of Erlangen, Germany, for instance, an antiracist simulation took place in the multinational headquarters of Siemens engaging all of its 23, 000 employees, about a quarter of the population of this German city. While in Sabadell, Spain, Paul Llonch, a rapper from the music group At Versaris, joined the efforts of the Arraona High School and the initiative “Change your point of view”. The students united to shot a video clip denouncing racism which quickly went viral.

The strategy was focused on achieving a real impact through political commitment, people’s participation, creativity and accuracy. Daniel de Torres stressed that the most challenging factor is to recognize that we all have prejudices, even the most marginalized groups, and that cities are the best context where we can identify and deal with these attitudes.

Minority Voices

MinorityVoices

The Minority Voices Programme is a development and training project organized by the Minority Rights Group, an international non-governmental organization that supports minority groups and indigenous people as they strive to maintain their rights and culture, while promoting equal opportunities in education and employment and full participation in public life.

More specifically, the Minority Voices Programme aims to increase the inclusion of the perspectives and opinions of the minorities and the indigenous population in the EU media and more specifically in development issues related to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Furthermore, the Minority Voices Programme promotes the awareness among development policy-makers of the various needs of minority and indigenous communities, by helping them to advocate for their own rights at a national, regional and international level.

The dedicated webpage of the organization, minorityvoices.org, is a place where both journalists and minority activists are encouraged to participate and to interact with each other. Through this page the members of minorities and indigenous communities, as well as their advocates, can upload their stories on a variety of media forms (video footage, audio, pictures, reports) and advocate for many issues, but most importantly through this page they can engage with the EU-based media, since the journalists are given the possibility to research and download all the available material (under creative commons licenses).

One very important issue that came to light thanks to the the Minority Voices Programme is the extinction of various indigenous languages in Nepal, an issue that Members of the Club de Madrid heard about first hand during a recent mission to the country. There is a gradual loss of the languages such as Kisan, Rai, Kusunda and Baram; these languages are getting replaced by the official language of Nepal, Nepali, contributing to the deterioration of the cultural heritage of various communities.

With as many as 123 dialects and languages spoken in Nepal, the Minority Voices Programme advocates for their protection and their instruction in local schools. A great majority of Nepalese children that come from different indigenous communities and linguistic minority groups encounter learning problems and perform poorly or even choose to leave school because the State has failed to recognize and cater for their diverse linguistic needs. A change in the educational system and the incorporation of all the languages of Nepal in administration and legal issues has been promoted through the Minority Voices Programme and to its ability to connect indigenous groups with the media.

The Diversity Advantage Challenge

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The Shared Societies Project has been involved in the “Diversity Advantage Challenge“, an initiative supported by the ICC/Council of Europe in an effort to promote a new approach to managing increasingly diverse societies based on the concept of diversity advantage. It aims at raising awareness among the public about the benefits of diversity and to provide a large number of examples of how organizations, businesses and cities which have realized these benefits by creating innovative products, services, ideas and initiatives.

NETPLUSS Member Kinga Göncz was selected as a member of the jury of the Diversity Advantage Challenge in representation of the Shared Societies Project. The final stage of this process will be held next week on 24 March in Strasbourg in the framework of the plenary session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.

This process has represented a great opportunity to learn from key local stakeholders from difference cultural (ethnic, religious, linguistic) backgrounds that are greatly committed to the design of innovative policies and initiatives which contributes to the dissemination of the notion of Shared Societies at the local level.

These are the 5 finalist that will be presenting during the final session:

  • Ordinary Heroes, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • La diversité à l’œuvre: des habitants charpentiers d’une nouvelle dynamique dans leur quartier!, France.
  • NDM –for more diversity in the media, Germany
  • Festival O Bairro i o Mundo, Portugal.
  • XEIX, Fostering intercultural relations around local businesses, Spain

Video presentations of the finalist’s projects are available here: http://www.coe.int/t/DG4/CULTUREHERITAGE/CULTURE/DIVERSITY/

The winner will be announced at the prize-giving ceremony and we will publish additional information of each of the finalists in the blog during the next days.

We wish all the finalists the best of luck!

 

Shared Societies between Jewish and Arab Citizens of Israel

Photo from The Social Venture Fund for Jewish-Arab Equality and Shared Society

On February 2014, the Inter Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues published the report, «Shared Societies between Jewish and Arab Citizens of Israel: Visions, Realities and Practices». The report, which is presented in two parts, “is a conceptual overview of the key approaches, meanings and milestones of Shared Society work in Israel and a mapping of current government and civil society Shared Society initiatives to provide a more granular illustration of these concepts as implemented today”. Moreover, this report aims to record the attitudes and understanding of the officials in Israel, in regards to Shared Societies, as well as to evaluate the relevance of these definitions for American Jewish organizations interested in Israel, the Arab Society the relations between them.

For their research, the Inter Agency Task Force members focused on the work, the key approaches and the underlying principles of Shared Society programs developed by civil society and not for profit organizations. The author the importance and the impact that the Shared Societies Project has had so far, by stating that the “best and most concise framing of shared society itself has been articulated by the Club de Madrid“. The report listed different approaches identified as guiding each organization’s decisions and actions when advancing into a shared society:

  1. Part of Israel’s Multicultural Diversity: For some organizations the issue of Jewish-Arab Shared Society is addressed as part of the wider context of multiculturalism or diversity in Israeli society.
  2. Singular Issue: Other organizations believe that the Jewish-Arab divide is “singular” in both character and importance within Israeli society and that therefore Shared Society work should address it as a unique and particular issue.
  3. Focus on Inter-Communal Relations: Some organizations focus on creating better relations between Jewish and Arab communities or particular stakeholders within the communities (i.e. students, teachers, artists) through encounters, shared living education, and joint projects.
  4. State-Minority Relations: Other organizations believe that the focus should be placed on state-minority relations.
  5. Focus on Arab Society Internal Development / Economic Integration: Another group of organizations views the need to enhance economic development and capacities within the Arab community as a priority in working towards a shared, equal and integrated society.
  6. Inclusivity in Service Provision: A number of civil society organizations that provide services to the entire Israeli citizenry, give special attention to enhancing a Shared Society by purposefully developing specially tailored services for the Arab communities.

Additionally, the report offers a very informative list of the initiatives that have been taken both by the government of Israel has taken over the years, through the Ministry of Education as well as on local government level and  by Civil Society and readers can find a list of efforts and projects that have been taken and various ideas for follow-ups that aim to create a society that may be diverse yet inclusive.

The Club de Madrid is very encouraged to have been included as a key reference in the work of a fellow organization and encourages the Inter Agency Task Force to continue its work on the issue of social inclusion and inter-communal relations between the Jewish and Arab groups, especially as it is operating in a region where the concept of “Shared Societies” is still relatively new.

 

Photo by The Social Venture Fund for Jewish-Arab Equality and Shared Society

Economic Inclusion in Action: EU Migration benefits to the UK Economy

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On 4 November 2014, UK newspaper The Independent published “EU Migrants Add £20bn to the economy in decade,” an article that explored the huge monetary benefits migrant workers added to the British economy between 2001 and 2011.

Numerically, “migrant workers from EU15 countries, which include Germany and France, paid 64% more in tax that they receive in benefits. New arrivals from Central and Easter Europe “accession” countries contributed 12% more than they took out,” confirming the assertion that migrant workers produced a significant monetary boost for the economy and rebutting the often made claim that migrants are a drain on social services.

Following the same approach in one region of the UK, the local Belfast Telegraph published “How Migrant Workers Oiled Wheels of Recovery,” an article written by Jamie Stinson on data that reinforce the increased economic and social benefits of migrant workers.

In a recent report on how migrant workers had contributed around £1.2bn to the Northern Irish economy between 2004 and 2008, Nigel Smyth, Director of the CBI in Northern Ireland, importantly remarked “economic recovery in Northern Ireland would ´grind to a halt´ without migrant workers.

Migrant workers are helping to sustain economic growth and filling labor shortages by bringing much-needed skills. In that regard, Smyth stated that “immigration is instrumental in helping many sectors of the economy, including food processing, IT, and hospitality.” Workers from overseas – accounting for 4% of the workforce, were also enriching society through cultural diversity.

By generating income, raising productivity and through their purchasing power, migrant workers are substantially contributing to the economy, and “with the UK and Northern Ireland facing the challenge of an ageing population in the years ahead, it would be extremely myopic for policy makers to ignore the overwhelming contribution migrant workers will bring to our economy.

Importantly, both articles allude to one of the fundamental components of SSP, that of total economic inclusion. As reinforced by the authors, economic inclusion strongly benefits all members of society as capacities are developed and put to use and capital, both human and financial, substantially increases. In the words of the author of The Independent article, Nigel Morris, “…so why is your Government trying to keep them out, Home Secretary?

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