In the intricate tapestry of European towns, the INDIMAE project stands as a beacon of innovation and collaboration. Financed by the Europe for Citizens Program of the European Commission under strand 2.2, “European Networks of Towns,” INDIMAE is a forward-looking initiative aimed at enhancing diversity management and safeguarding minority rights in European towns. Coordinated by the Municipality of Simitli, Bulgaria, and supported by 13 partners from 12 countries, the project, initially scheduled between 2020 and 2023, faced delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite setbacks, INDIMAE perseveres, hosting a plethora of local and international events, both virtual and residential, to create a pan-European network of towns committed to fostering inclusivity and combating discrimination.
At the core of INDIMAE’s ethos is its participatory and innovative nature. The project transcends social, economic, and political realms, seeking to address the challenges faced by all European communities, particularly those vulnerable to exclusion and marginalization. By involving citizens from diverse backgrounds, underrepresented minorities, and migrant communities, the INDIMAE Network fosters dialogue among public bodies, twinning committees, and civil society organizations. Its aim is to cultivate sustainable public-private partnerships that counter discrimination and champion cultural diversity.
One of INDIMAE’s flagship events is the “Innovative Strategies Addressing the Challenges of Diversity Management in European Towns.” This residential/blended debate serves as a nexus for stakeholders to discuss pressing issues affecting European towns. Against the backdrop of an evolving Europe, the debate focuses on three main areas: networking and innovative action in policy-making, devising common local approaches to diversity management, and learning from innovative practices, with a specific spotlight on Palermo.
President Juncker’s assertion that “Europe is more than just a single market” underscores the importance of common values. The INDIMAE project aligns with these values outlined in Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union, emphasizing democracy, human rights, and equality. Various policies and guidelines, such as the White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue and the Declaration of Paris, underscore the commitment to pluralism, non-discrimination, and justice.
Drawing inspiration from “Cities, Accommodating Diversity,” INDIMAE offers practical tips for European towns on managing diversity. These include collecting and utilizing data for informed policy design, mainstreaming equal access and non-discrimination goals, and proactively engaging with EU and national policies. The emphasis is on ensuring fair and equal treatment for minorities and migrants across housing, education, and employment services.
The event in Palermo, scheduled for November 27th to 30th, 2023, features a comprehensive agenda. Activities range from icebreaking sessions and expert presentations on diversity management practices in Palermo to a network debate on creative approaches to diversity management. The event culminates in a cultural exposure session, celebrating the vibrant city of Palermo.
The INDIMAE project, with its roots in collaboration and innovation, embodies the spirit of a united Europe. By addressing challenges in diversity management and minority rights protection, it paves the way for a more inclusive and tolerant European society. As the project continues to unfold, the hope is that its initiatives and outcomes will serve as a blueprint for towns across Europe, fostering a sense of belonging and shared values.