Professor Roger Van Overstraetenplein 1
The City of Leuven is a central city in Belgium of more than 100.000 inhabitants. On top of that, Leuven counts 50.000 students, of which 6.000 are foreign students. Approximately 7.000 expats have been working in Leuven and around 2.000 refugees have settled in Leuven following the surge of refugees in 2015.
Leuven gathers over 170 different nationalities.
In 2016, the City of Leuven declared the intention to join the ECCAR.
On the 21 st of March 2018 the city of Leuven organised a ceremony to accentuate the broad public endorsement of the accession of Leuven to ECCAR. About one thousand citizens came to subscribe to `Leuven zonder Racisme' or `Leuven without Racism'. Furthermore, 220 organisations joined them in supporting the accession of the city to ECCAR. The city decided to gather all activities that stem from the accession to ECCAR in the `Leuven zonder Racisme' project.
The main reason for organising such a public event is linked to the methodology that will be used by the city of Leuven regarding ECCAR.
First and foremost, the city already put in place countless policies that are aimed at tackling discrimination and creating equal opportunities for every inhabitant.
Secondly, the city's administration and policy makers are determined to continuously evaluate and adjust existing policies and take new policy initiatives. Some of these existing and new policies are listed in the accession form.
Thirdly, and most important, a bottom-up approach will be used to shape the `Leuven zonder Racisme' project. The ten-point action plan has been bundled in six different domains:
- Monitoring and evaluation
- Victim support
In each domain, a taskforce of key players from the social midfield, local authorities and other relevant organisations will be assembled. In these taskforces the City of Leuven will reflect on discrimination in different domains. The taskforces will oversee the implementation of focus groups consisting of citizens that are confronted with racism and discrimination in the respective domains.
The city authorities have set a number of strategic goals such as tackling racism in the labour market, housing, schools, etc. The City will facilitate and empower these taskforces to set their proper operational goals. The operational goals of the taskforces will be the result of an analysis of the data gathered from the focus groups and from personal and professional experiences of members of the taskforce.
The main reason for choosing this methodology is to make sure that the operational goals meet the challenges that workers an the field face. The dynamic of co-operation between different partners will ensure that these strategic goals are as efficient as possible.
Aside from these taskforces there will be a steering group in which every taskforce and several large organisation will be represented. This platform will be used to share information about the activities and progress of every taskforce and it will provide insight into the ECCAR-activities to the large organisations. This steering group will enable the city and the partners to maintain an overview an the `Leuven zonder Racisme' project.
Every year around March 21 a broad networking day will be organised to present the progress that has been made in the `Leuven zonder Racisme' project to the public in general and signatories of `Leuven zonder Racisme' in particular.
By using this bottom-up approach the city seeks to build a widespread support for this project in Leuven, as well as raising awareness and sensitivity for the issue of racism. Furthermore, the city wants to encourage the participation of partners in the formal structure of `Leuven zonder Racisme' and motivate organisations citywide to take initiatives to tackle racism in their own surroundings and activities.