“Cities are the places where integration happens. They offer great opportunities for migrants and non-migrants to interact, be it through working, studying and raising their families, but they are also faced with challenges regarding integration and inclusion.”
European Urban Agenda
Migration policy represents a national and European responsibility, but integration happens at the local level. It is in the neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces that people integrate in communities.
In this sense, local authorities play a key role in integrating newcomers and empowering them to contribute to their new communities. However, due to a lack of coordination among stakeholders across the different sectors of labor, health, housing and education, local integration strategies show weaknesses.
MUST-a-Lab project aims at bringing together stakeholders and migrants in order to innovate strategies for effective integration at local level, building more resilient communities, through the establishment of local Policy Labs.
In our approach, integration means hybridisation, since cultural identities and cultural differences are seen as contingent products of social negotiation in which they mix together. In this negotiation, cultural identities can be constructed and narrated as fluid and loose, namely as hybrid identities. The PLs can implement and/or improve negotiation of hybrid identities, by transforming cultural differences from blocks of dialogue to dialogic threads.
MUST-a-Lab proposes a systemic and long-term involvement of migrants and asylum seekers in 6 European municipalities through installing Policy Labs, where existing local integration strategies are discussed and improved. Each of these cities has its own history with migration and has developed significant good practices in integration strategies. The Policy Labs strive for a direct impact in each city by improving and adjusting the implementation of their integration strategies by a joint effort of all relevant stakeholders, including the migrants themselves. In fact, Policy Labs bring together different types of local stakeholders: one side, stakeholders normally involved in local policies and, on the other one, grassroots and migrant stakeholders.
Participated policies in the field of migration means to mobilize different stakeholders and to activate a fruitful exchange at different stages of development in the fields of social inclusion, education, employment. For this reason, Policy Labs enables the different stakeholders involved to discuss, review and improve existing integration local strategies through the input of all participants.
The use of Policy Lab methodology aims at creating and/or enhancing the habit of inclusive and participatory approaches in decision-making processes for local authorities.
The measures discussed in each Policy Lab are focused on a topic previously chosen according to the local needs in terms of migrant and asylum seekers communities integration.
Policy Labs impact
Policy Labs methodology, strictly connected to participatory practices, will encourage their participants to generate innovative interactions. On one hand, migrants and asylum seekers become active actors in local integration strategies, who are able to influence the implementation of those strategies by sharing their views and experiences with relevant stakeholders. On the other hand, local stakeholders evolve into collaborative actors who have the necessary information to implement strategies that work.
Therefore, Policy Labs result in the development of stakeholders’ actions that are complementary to those of other stakeholders while the Policy Lab practice allows the optimisation of existing and new integration strategies.
- Migrant and asylum seeker communities
- Local authorities
- Relevant stakeholders belonging to the world of labor, education, non-governmental organizations, local associations
- Policy makers at local national and European level