Mechelen is one of the four most multicultural cities in Flanders, together with Antwerp, Ghent and Genk. Over 130 nationalities live together here, together we speak more than 80 different languages. More than half of the children born here have a migrant background.

We are committed to creating a city where every single citizens feels at home: “Mechelen puts coexistence in diversity first. Connection, inclusion, participation and equal opportunities are key terms. Mechelen resolutely chooses to be an integrally accessible and warm city where everyone has a place and a voice, can participate and can construct the city of the future. Our organization and services are tailored to its superdiverse citizens”.

The city supports many advisory councils and facilitates and supports many forms of informal political participation. Unfortunately, citizens with migration roots do not find their way easily to these participation initiatives. Therefore, we have decided to experiment with innovative participation methodologies and have joined the MUST-a-Lab project.

By applying the policy lab methodology to our policy challenge (increase the sense of belonging at school for pupils with migration roots) we hope to have a substantial impact on local integration practices, but also to fundamentally change the manner in which policy recommendations in the field of diversity and inclusion are developed. The greatest strength of the methodology is the involvement of a multitude of stakeholders (professionals from different fields, public servants, elected officials, citizens) in the process of problem analysis, experimentation and formulation of policy recommendations. This is a truly inclusive process that prepares the ground for a long-lasting collaboration between the different stakeholders.

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