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On 14 November 2017, the JPI Urban Europe hosted its first thematic Agora – Stakeholder Involvement Platform workshop on “the effects of recent migration dynamics and forced displacement on urban areas in Europe” in Berlin. The workshop brought together experts to jointly discuss most pressing challenges, connect between nationally funded projects, exchange on policy recommendations and identify the research/innovation needs to inform future JPI Urban Europe actions.
In recent years, countries and urban areas throughout Europe have experienced different effects caused by high numbers of incoming migrants due to crises and war in different parts of the world. At the same time, there are nationally and European funded research and innovation projects, local initiatives, national/city-wide/local strategies to address challenges and issues which are caused by the changing demographics. The aim of the workshop was to bring together knowledge and expertise on those issues, connect national projects dealing with the theme and to create input for policy recommendations.
Based on their field of expertise the experts addressed the issues of ‘Arrival cities and neighbourhoods’, ‘managing migration’ and ‘urban planning and housing’. The discussions revealed manifold challenges which require urban actors with different backgrounds working together on various scales (from local to national to European level).
One challenge is the risk of losing social cohesion in the neighbourhoods resulting in socio spatial segregation. Therefore, the social integration in the neighbourhood is important to minimise negative socio-spatial effects in the long run. In particular, by creating beneficial situations and projects for all stakeholders including local business and residents. Additionally, the issue of active citizenship for the newcomers was highlighted as an important element for tackling challenges on neighbourhood scale resulting from the change in demographic structure.
Besides challenges of local and neighbourhood scale, discussions focussed on the role of providing concrete evidence and data on migration to policy makers and media. In times of increasing use of questionable facts, research and innovation can make a difference by bringing sound evidence into the public debate. The communication of success stories was identified as an important way to underline facts and figures.
Another challenge identified was the adequat brokerage and communication channels for communicating with migrant/refugee groups. While many of the newly arrived people are highly linked to family, friends and other refugees to exchange informal information, ways, methods and channels for distributing public knowledge and information to these groups need to be found.
Recent years showed fast changing dynamics regarding incoming migrants and displaced people. It was mainly urban areas which had to deal with these dynamics. The challenge today is to develop flexible models to prepare for sudden events and changing dynamics. These flexible structures should allow an active collaboration between the public sector and civil society, especially to tackle immediate housing needs. Public sector innovation and capacity building among all relevant stakeholders is seen as key to prepare for changing dynamics in regard to migration.
Finally the workshop was used to identify themes, topics and challenges for transnational cooperation by bringing together the expertise generated in national projects. Several topics and research areas with an added value if addressed transnationally were highlighted such as active citizenship for migrants/refugees, migrant urbanism, changing the attitutes towards newcomers and the role of urban planning and local policy making for social inclusion.
The outcomes of the workshop will be translated into policy briefs to inform local, national and European policy makers. Furthermore, the research results and areas identified will be assessed to decide upon possible JPI Urban Europe alignment actions. Finally, the outcomes will be fed into the process of developing an updated version of the JPI Urban Europe’s Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda.
If you would like to be invited to thematic workshops and strategic dialogues organised in the realm of Agora – JPI Urban Europe Stakeholder Involvement Platform please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 857160.