SUPER - SUPporting Everyday fight against Racism
Three Local Action Plans against racism, racial, ethnic and religious discriminations, crimes and hate speech for Bologna, Turin and Reggio Emilia.
On 27 and 28 October 2022, the High Level Meeting of the SUPER project was held in Bologna at the “Enzo Biagi” Auditorium in the Sala Borsa.
The meeting was attended by the representatives of the Italian Ministries, the European Commission, international and national networks and non-governmental organizations. The appointment was the occasion to illustrate the achievements reached in the last year and a half by the cities of Bologna, Turin and Reggio Emilia in promoting socially sustainable communities, welcoming and respectful of diversity, and in building and implementing local action plans to contrast racism and the hate crimes it entails.
The event gave the opportunity to exchange knowledges and methodologies and to present the work leading to the adoption of the three Local Action Plans at the beginning of 2023. Starting from these three experiences, a proposal of National Plan against Racism for the Italian Local Authorities will be drawn up in order to lay the foundations for a more inclusive, safer and culturally richer society, in line with the goals of the Equality Plan of the European Commission. The project responds to the invitation of the European Commission to the Member States to adopt, by the end of 2022, National Action Plans against racism, by involving representatives of the civil society and equality entities in the phases of elaboration, implementation and evaluation.
Anti-racist action in Italy is a priority for a culture of human rights, but there is still a long way to meet the needs of racialized people. Mattia Peradotto, Director of the National Office against Racial Discrimination (UNAR), recalled how “removing the vulnus that leads to discrimination finally means creating culture within the communities and, in so doing, eliminating the conditions that generate discrimination itself. The feature of the European Commission’s request to adopt National Action Plans consists in emphasizing the importance of building multi-stakeholder and multi-level actions with a specific attention to the networks as guarantee of incisive results. UNAR is the contact point with the EU and the reality in charge of the coordination with the aim of stimulating the regional and municipal networks. With their example, Turin, Bologna and Reggio Emilia can be driving forces for the realization of the National Action Plan”. Dr Peradotto also underlined that “the National Office against Racial Discrimination is committed to anti-racism on different fronts: from the supervision of institutional discrimination in public tenders to the training addressed to public officers; from the management and interpretation of the collected data to a coherent construction of funds. Moreover, UNAR is committed to the building of a positive narrative through the realization of a memorandum of understanding with the National Council of Journalists and the Carta di Roma Association”.
A full institutional collaboration with the local authorities was confirmed by Francesca Romana Capaldo, Director of the OSCAD Secretariat, “Observatory for Safety against Discriminatory Acts”, an entity of the Department of Public Safety at the Ministry of the Interior, which operates when discrimination leads to hate crimes: “For the OSCAD, the awareness and training of police personnel is a fundamental element for a culture of respect of human rights. Teamworking, creating and strengthening networks are of fundamental importance as well; local institutions are essential because they well know the territories and have an in-depth knowledge of the problems. Their relationship with the territory is of crucial importance for the OSCAD, which cannot ignore the local synergies to achieve institutional objectives. The SUPER project was an opportunity for growth, especially for the Local OSCADs, which are the decentralized antennas in the Police and Carabinieri Offices”.
Several considerations were suggested by the Councillor for Welfare, Rights and Equal Opportunities of the Municipality of Turin, Dr Jacopo Rosatelli: “It is important to ensure that local projects, funded by the PNRR, include the cross-cutting theme of non-racial discrimination, as already happens with the theme of gender. Moreover, there is a need for coordination within the municipalities, also through the creation of permanent structures, which should guarantee a certain continuity of the action even in case of political changes. These structures should be embedded into regulations, so that they could not be removed or forgotten, with the aim of biding the city councils to the contrast of discrimination”. The Councillor also sees a specific field of action in the health care: “in fighting racism in the health sector, cities can play a crucial role, even if health is a regional matter. The mayors are privileged interlocutors of the Regions and they can give inputs to regional policies. In any case, anti-racism cannot be the prerogative of the Councillors for Equal Opportunities, but there is a need for integrated actions”.
There is a great deal of commitment, but still many needs. Nicola Tria, Councillor for Legality and Social Cohesion of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia emphasized how “one of the main problems of racism in Italy is to measure the underground phenomena, which are commonly perceived but difficult to be traced”.
The numerous problems that still need to be faced are also shared by members of the civil society. Kim Smouter Umans, Director of ENAR (European Network Against Racism) pointed out that “the fight against racism is in danger of being lost: far-right parties are winning elections almost everywhere in Europe. The projects contrasting racism have a small scale and they are developed too slowly. We have to do more, to make more effective the fight for the people who suffer. People born in the EU, present for generations, are still called ‘migrants’ instead of being considered ‘European’ at all the effects. Racism takes place first of all in the cities: for this reason, it can be better fought at this level. We need to make sure that all people know that a Local and a National Action Plan have been launched with this aim”.
The topic of “intersectionality” received a particular attention during the 2-days meeting. The Vice Mayor of the Municipality of Bologna, Emily Marion Clancy, presented the project leading to the creation of a team of Diversity Managers as example of a proactive action against discrimination: “Starting from the current mandate, the Municipality of Bologna institutes a working team of five Diversity Managers, who will be selected through a public call. Its aim will be to act in an intersectional perspective on diversity (origin, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity, gender and age). The Diversity Managers will support the Office for Rights and Plural City and the enlargement of Anti-Discrimination Desk (SPAD), thus accompanying the Municipal Administration in developing a good management of all dimensions of diversity: from the improvement of the accessibility to the local services, to the adoption of measures to increase the presence of under-represented minorities in the public administration”.
The SUPER project consolidates the multi-year anti-racist commitment of the three cities involved and gives continuity to the programs to prevent and fight discrimination and to promote a culture of respect for differences. The City of Bologna, which hosted the event, has always been an active member of the Steering Committee and since 2015 holds the Presidency of the European Coalition of Cities Against Racism. Among other initiatives, it promoted the creation of the Anti-Discrimination Desk at the Zonarelli Intercultural Center, co-designed and co-managed with 32 associations.
The Municipality of Turin approved in 2019 the Local Action Plan against racist hate crimes and since 2020 it instituted an Office for Rights participating in the Collaboration Pact for anti-racist Turin, made up of over 60 associations and ETS (Third Sector Entities). Turin is part of the Network “Italian Cities of Dialogue” (ICC program) and of the European Coalition of Cities against Racism.
Since 2021 the Municipality of Reggio Emilia has been among the 10 cities selected to be part of the Council of Europe’s Working Group on Intercultural Integration for the fight against discrimination and the promotion of diversity. This recognition goes in parallel with other projects - activated over the years with the support of the MondInsieme Foundation - such as the Anti-discrimination Desk and further political actions (realization of protocols and coordination of interinstitutional tables to contrast all types of discrimination).
The High Level Meeting was held in the final stages of the SUPER project - started in March 2021 - which has allowed an intense dialogue with the civil society, sector actors and police, to contain the phenomenon of discrimination, hate crimes and speech, whose emergence is strongly hindered by socio-economic and political factors, and to allow the development of innovative and better measures of prevention and protection.
The three cities are now ready to represent a model in Italy and Europe for other cities wishing to take action against discrimination in all its forms.