The European Policy Dialogue Forum on Refugees and Migrants
The European Policy Dialogue Forum (EPDF) brings together policymakers, religious actors and experts to discuss social cohesion in Europe. A platform for discussing ways to foster the social inclusion of refugees and migrants in Europe and to find creative ways to address and counter hate speech, the Forum gathers diverse participants in interactive discussions that combine different perspectives and build bridges between various actors working with refugees and migrants around Europe. The Forum also puts dialogue at the forefront to identify ways to put into action potential new directions on migration policies, and pathways for new initiatives and partnerships to contribute to the work of policymakers.
The 4th European Policy Dialogue Forum will take place in Barcelona, Spain on 9-10 November 2022. It is organized by the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) and the Network for Dialogue in partnership with the European Council of Religious Leaders / Religions for Peace Europe (ECRL/RfP) and the support of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). Local partners are Blanquerna Observatory for Media, Culture and Religion of the Ramon Llull University and the Instituto Superior de Ciencias Relogiosas de Barcelona (ISCREB).
Social Inclusion in Cities”, highlights the importance of European cities as key spaces to ensure healthy societal diversity and social inclusion. The sessions at this year’s EPDF inquire into the roles that different urban stakeholders – from media and policy makers to religious actors – can play to achieve inclusive societies and how collaboration among them can be better encouraged. The Forum concentrates on two specific topics:
- Multistakeholder partnerships on migration. This topic highlights creating and strengthening multistakeholder partnerships (MSPs) on migration to foster joint action and effective support of urban social inclusion processes. Participants will examine how effective MSPs bring together actors with complementary skills at the urban level to strengthen the capability to address the complex needs and changing issues involved in social cohesion initiatives, and what these partners can do together to make sure refugees and migrants feel both empowered and at home in European cities, while bearing in mind the needs of the local host community.
- Cultural and media initiatives to counter hate speech. This topic explores the power of culture and media initiatives to counter hate-speech in European cities, with the understanding that hate speech is particularly divisive force affecting religious and cultural minorities in Europe. Participants will examine existing and potential cultural and media initiatives that counter hate speech, discuss what they need to do to address fears and break patterns of systemic exclusion more effectively, and how to engage cultural and media institutions along with different actors to contribute to such endeavours.
THE THEMATIC FOCUS OF THE 2ND EUROPEAN POLICY DIALOGUE FORUM
The 2nd European Policy Dialogue Forum addresses the current social inclusion processes of refugees and migrants in Europe. The Forum does not address border security or reforms in the asylum system; it deals with the question of how dialogue can contribute to the social cohesion and social inclusion of refugees and migrants in Europe. In doing so, the Forum concentrates on three specific topics:
- Strengthening social inclusion in education: including both formal and non-formal approaches. This topic addresses the difficulties that many refugees encounter in learning a new language and understanding a new culture. It deals with the challenges of teachers in addressing cultural and religious diversity in their classroom.
- Building trust in local communities: finding ways to enable interactions between refugees and the local host community to come together and to learn from each other. This topic focuses on fostering mutual understanding and creating spaces where members of the host community can learn about other religions and cultures, reducing fear and prejudices against newcomers.
- Reshaping the narratives on migration: with a focus on the current negative perception about refugees. Instead of giving room for derogatory discourse and hate speech, ways of fostering tolerance and understanding are explored. Promising practices coming from media, academic research and policy initiatives are also shared to show how to better counter hate speech and discrimination.
The 2nd European Policy Dialogue Forum was to take place in Bonn, Germany; under the German presidency of the European Union, supported by the German Foreign Ministry and the European Commission Representation in Germany. The Forum has been moved online due to the uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic and will take place virtually on 3-4 November 2020.
For more details about the European Policy Dialogue Forum, please get in touch with the Project Manager of the Network for Dialogue, Dr. Aleksandra Djuric Milovanovic.
The International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) established the Network for Dialogue platform, which brings together secular and faith-based civil society organizations from across Europe to strengthen dialogical approaches in the integration of refugees and migrants. KAICIID and the Network for Dialogue are organising the 2nd European Policy Dialogue Forum on Refugees and Migrants in 2020, under the title “Contributing to the social inclusion of refugees and migrants in Europe through interreligious and intercultural dialogue”.
This follows the successful organization of the 1st European Policy Dialogue Forum on Refugees and Migrants, which gathered 60 participants in Athens, Greece, in October 2019. By bringing together both religious and secular views into the discourse on migration, the Forum succeeded in showcasing ways to foster the social inclusion of refugees and migrants in Europe.
CONTEXT IN EUROPE
Refugees face numerous hurdles in their new social, economic and political lives in their host country. Many difficulties are due to policies that do not always distinguish between the needs of specific groups versus the unique needs of each individual. Refugees, migrants and members of host societies need contact points and shared spaces to successfully integrate in their new environments. Dialogue can help foster mutual understanding and a two-way integration to better understand each other’s cultural context, including one’s religious background. Local and national initiatives can become positive examples for other cities and countries to learn about and embrace opportunities that help refugees enjoy equal rights and boost their integration. The social inclusion of refugees and migrants provides the means for disadvantaged groups to access resources and experience wellbeing.
The 2nd European Policy Dialogue Forum will bring together around 100 participants from various countries around Europe. In particular, policymakers, policy advisers, religious leaders, academics, and secular and faith-based civil society organizations will be taking part. Whether at the local, national or European level, participants are all working on the social inclusion of refugees and migrants.
APPROACHES AND METHODOLOGY
Dialogue is a tool to foster an attitude of openness and understanding for diversity. By providing a space for dialogue, the European Policy Dialogue Forum enables participants to share experiences and harvest perspectives of current refugee and migration policies in Europe. This input contributes to collaborations between policymakers, religious leaders, scholars and civil society, and provides a means for developing policy recommendations. Divided into four days, the Forum will open with the introduction on the first day, followed by two days of in-depth discussions in three groups and will end with the closing plenary on the last day.