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DIVERCITIES Report Summary

Project ID: 319970
Funded under: FP7-SSH
Country: Netherlands

Periodic Report Summary 2 - DIVERCITIES (Governing Urban Diversity: Creating Social Cohesion, Social Mobility and Economic Performance in Today's Hyper-diversified Cities)

Project Context and Objectives:
With the current economic situation in Europe, better social cohesion, higher economic performance and increased chances for social mobility are allways to make cities better and more competitive. However, urban policies currently in place fall short on looking at urban diversity in a positive light. As such, new policies are called for in addition to looking at how the ones in place have been successful.
The principal aim of DIVERCITIES is to examine how Europe can benefit from diversity. It can inspire creativity and innovation and it can create cities that are more liveable and harmonious. Urban diversity can also stimulate local and national economies and make European cities more competitive.

In light of this, the DIVERCITIES project is suggesting innovative policy instruments and government arrangements to help view urban diversity positively, further interaction between urban groups and expand participation.

The four-year project involves a research team running a comparative study in 13 European cities as well as in Toronto, Canada. Case studies are being used in diverse neighbourhoods. The project is also seeking to improve the knowledge base for policymakers on different levels.

Once the project is completed, the potential impact will be new, more diverse and more tailored arrangements for economic growth, better housing and more liveable neighbourhoods.

Project Results:
Main steps taken

Work Package 1 : Project management
A dedicated ‘management unit’ at Utrecht University deals with the practical and general management of the project. All objectives for RTD and networking have been achieved within the schedule and conditions of the Grant Agreement.

Work Package 2: Communication
We use a diversity of methods (written material such as Policy Briefs and newsletters, and social forums on the internet) to facilitate communication and discussion. All objectives of this WP are realized and all deliverables submitted on schedule.

Work Package 3: Research and conceptual guidelines
WP3 aimed to update and fine-tune the literature review and to create concrete guidelines for conducting the research. Both reports (D3.1 and D3.2) were delivered on time.

Work Package 4: Assessment of urban politics
WP4 focussed on the analysis of the current approach of EU, national and local policies with respect to urban diversity. The 14 city reports, titled Urban Policies on Diversity, are available through our website.

Work Package 5; Governance arrangements and initiatives
WP5 aimed to clarify how governance arrangements on the local (urban, neighbourhood) level help to increase positive aspects of urban diversity and to find out what their success and fail factors are. The 14 city reports, titled Governance Arrangements and Initiatives, are published on our website.

Work Package 6: Fieldwork inhabitants
WP6 aimed to clarify how urban diversity and policies and arrange¬ments with respect to urban diversity affect different population groups living in cities in terms of social cohesion and social mobility and to make specifically clear who profit and how they profit. Besides looking at the effects of policies and arrangements on the lives of residents, we also focused on the question in which ways and to what extent the diversified neighbourhood is important to its residents. The 14 city reports, titled Fieldwork Inhabitants, are available through our website.

Work Package 7: Fieldwork Entrepreneurs
In WP7 we performed a qualitative research among entrepreneurs to find out relations between diversity on the one hand and economic performance on the other hand. In the 40 interviews per city we focused on both the outcomes of success and on the conditions that make this success happen with a specific focus on aspects of urban and neighborhood diversity. The 14 reports have been submitted on 30 March 2016 and will be on our website a soon as they are approved.
WP4, 5, 6 and 7 form the basis for the chapters in the City Books, which will be delivered on 31 August 2016.

Ongoing activities

Work Package 8: Cross evaluation
In the cross-evaluations we will confront research and policy experts with the preliminary results of the project, with the aim to provide relevant policy-making material for the handbook and the final conference. In May 2016 a pilot will be organized in Toronto. In September the sessions with all the countries will be organized.

Work Package 9: Handbook and articles
The consortium already elaborated ideas and a work plan for the Handbook for Policy Makers that will clarify what innovative and participatory policy initiatives can be created to make urban diversity work in a positive direction. A few articles were published in peer-reviewed journals and many were presented at international conferences and subsequently submitted to journals; special sessions on our topic have been organized (see dissemination).

Work Package 10: Final conference PhD school
Two events will be organized: (1) a policy conference in order to reach politicians, government officers, other relevant decision makers as well as established researchers (Rotterdam February 2017); and (2) a PhD-school addressing young researchers (Vienna June 2016).The team is working on the organization.

Policy Platform (PP)
In each of the cities Policy Platform meetings have been organised. A selection of the PP members will be invited to the cross evaluation meetings.

Potential Impact:
The DIVERCITIES project investigates the question: “Under which conditions can urban hyperdiversity positively affect social cohesion, economic performance and social mobility of individuals and groups suffering from socio-economic deprivation?”
The analysis of governance arrangements and initiatives (WP5) led us to recommend that policy agendas should be opened up for new bottom-up topics, since it is at the local level where social problems and demands become clearly visible and noticeable first. Governments should work towards effective and targeted forms of subsidiarity, so that policy-makers recognise the significance and value of and collaborating with organisations and individuals who initiate and lead successful local governance arrangements. Bottom-up arrangements should be allowed space to function so they are not over-controlled and over-powered. This means that legislation should be flexible enough to support and fund arrangements, which are less formally organised, have open and participative structures, and are not always to be evaluated in quantitative requirements. Integrated and comprehensive social policies are required to enhance the effectiveness of these local arrangements. Furthermore, it is important to meet shifting community needs. A successful governance arrangement should focus on capacity building in the community with a long-term vision. Staff and internal capacity should be able to respond to the changing demands of the group, to speak the language of the target audience and to engage members of the community. Furthermore, it is crucial to interconnect and coordinate governance arrangements and activities that use diversity in a positive way to give them the opportunity to exchange information, views, knowledge and experiences. Efforts should be made to replace the one-sided view of diversity (often based on ethnicity) and boost the awareness and recognition of hyper-diversity among policy-makers. Recognising hyper-diversity is the first step towards the establishment of effective policies aimed at social cohesion, social mobility and economic performance.

On the basis of the interviews with residents in our research areas (WP6) we conclude that many of them take diversity in their areas for granted, more or less. This is especially the case for young people. The ‘ordinariness’ of hyper-diversity could be highlighted in the public realm as a positive element of urban life. That does not mean that people actually develop in-depth relationships with each other. As the ‘traditional’ social mix policies do not lead to more social cohesions, politicians should invest in other types of programs that bring together the diverse groups of the neighbourhood, by creating space of encounter and stimulate shared activities (instead of passive encounters). Our research confirmed that the main impediments for finding a job are not associated with the neighbourhood; they are related to individuals’ skills, knowledge of language, the availability of suitable jobs, etc. This means that policies dealing with unemployment and social inequality should not necessarily be targeted on these specific urban areas, but should employ a citywide (or even regional) perspective and be part of broader policies using macro- and micro-economic tools. However, local structures connecting individuals to the labour market may be helpful for low-income individuals who are not part of strong citywide social networks and do not have easy access to formal mechanisms that assist with finding a job.
Our policy recommendations have found their way to policy makers through our website, our meetings with the Policy Platforms and our Policy Briefs. In the next phase of the project we will be able to give more recommendations and also reach a wider audience, for example through our Handbook and End Conference.

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