About “Moving Cities”

About “Moving Cities”

The “Moving Cities Map” showcases successful local approaches to migration and inclusion across the whole of Europe. It is the first mapping exercise to provide in-depth research on 28 progressive Solidarity Cities in ten European countries and their strategies for welcoming migrants and refugees. It also presents 50 of their most inspiring local initiatives and provides an overview of all active European cities and their most extensive networks with other cities.

How did Moving Cities come about?

The idea for the project was born in 2019 in conjunction with the European conference From the Sea to the City. Moving Cities was initiated in Berlin by activists from the civil society movement Seebrücke and the platform for urban research Tesserae. Until 2022, the project was funded by the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, and the Safe Passage Foundation. The project belonged to the organisation Mensch Mensch Mensch.

Who stands behind Moving Cities?

Today, Moving Cities is a project of the association United4Rescue - Gemeinsam Retten and is funded by the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and the Heinrich Böll Foundation. The project is implemented by the Moving Cities Team, with the support of many other organisations. See here for the complete list of supporting organisations.

What is the goal of the Moving Cities?

Cities and municipalities across Europe have shown that a different kind of migration policy is not only possible, but that it is already happening. By researching, highlighting and connecting these municipal trailblazers, their networks and the most successful local programs, the “Moving Cities Map" aims at changing European migration policy. Whilst national and EU-led policy reforms have been in a state of deadlock for years, more than 600 hundred municipalities across Europe are advocating for a solidarity-based migration policy. The innovative local initiatives launched in dozens of cities are evidence that a politics of welcome really is possible.

What makes Moving Cities unique?

Although cities have become increasingly vocal and powerful political actors in the European debate on migration and have established national and transnational networks for cooperation and knowledge exchange, there has been no comprehensive and easily accessible overview of strategies, key-factors and incentives for municipalities and civil society – until now.

Who is the audience of Moving Cities?

The site is intended as a tool for committed municipalities and civil society organisations seeking inspiration and strategies to change local migration policies. By providing information about real examples of alternative welcoming strategies, we are contributing to a mutual learning process that leverages synergies between municipalities across Europe. Our aim is to improve the capacity of individual municipalities to act locally, as well as to amplify the voices of cities and city-networks as political actors in the European debate on migration.

Why do you focus on cities?

All over Europe, the representatives and administrations of cities are taking a stand against the highly restrictive migration policies of the EU and its member states. Many cities have declared themselves places of sanctuary and safe harbours for people on the move. Cities in Spain, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy have swung into action, particularly in connection with the blockades of civil sea-rescue operations. With their various progressive approaches, many cities in Europe have become a testing ground for new policies of inclusion and participation, paving the way for the democratisation of urban society. Politicians, local authorities and civil society organisations in cities not only have concrete experience with the coexistence of long-term residents and newcomers, but they are also a place for social experiments, for creative bottom-up processes and fruitful collaborations between civil society and city authorities.

What’s the role of civil society in this context?

In pursuing our goal of strengthening cities as political actors in Europe and highlighting their work, we have focused on local schemes that are officially supported by cities. Nevertheless, we want to emphasise the fact that, in most cases, civil society initiatives have been crucial in pushing cities to adopt a more progressive and solidarity-based migration policy. There are countless progressive and innovative civil society initiatives all over Europe that are essential for the development of both local and European migration policies and that we couldn’t include here because of the particular focus of this project.

Why do you write of “inclusion” policies?

We decided to write of “inclusion” rather than “integration” policies and measures because for us the term “integration” can have problematic associations. Often “integration” goes hand in hand with the idea that assimilating migrants and refugees is a one-sided process of adaptation and integration into pre-existing and non-negotiable structures. By insisting on the term “inclusion”, we want to place the focus on a process that is reciprocal and contains the possibility of active political participation by migrants. Nevertheless, we use the term “integration” when it is part of the name or explicitly part of the concept of a local scheme.