Municipal Development Councils
The reception and integration of refugees is a challenge for many municipalities, but also offers great opportunities. Designing a reception and integration process that yields positive effects for all requires the involvement of all relevant stakeholder groups.
To organise the voluntary reception of refugees in a sustainable way and to put it on a broad basis, Municipal Development Councils should be formed locally. They are made up of different stakeholder groups and are tasked with advising on the direction and design of future policies and with preparing their implementation. This is the place to discuss the demographic development of the municipality, needs and possible offers in the local economy; labour market opportunities and necessary training for newcomers, the development of necessary infrastructure, housing offers, perspectives for cultural development and the social integration of all citizens.
Municipal Development Councils consist of the three main stakeholder groups:
- politics and administration,
- civil society,
- additionally, academia as an observer and advisor.
Municipal Development Councils should co-create recommendations for the further development of the community. In this context, recommendations may include suggestions on whether and how refugee reception can be part of a long-term local development strategy and how inclusion and participation of the newcomers can be best ensured. By involving the important different stakeholder groups, the recommendation for additional reception builds on a broad basis of legitimacy. Furthermore, it enables responsibility sharing, as many different actors are involved.
By deciding what to do with the additional subsidies from the Integration and Development Fund, the whole municipality turns towards a development perspective in which reception and integration of refugees is an essential part of the development process and a driver for improvement. The reception and inclusion of people seeking protection can thus be proactively shaped as part of an urban development strategy.
Moreover, Municipal Development Councils strengthen the cooperation and understanding among stakeholder groups. Conflicts, e.g. over scarce housing, can be addressed in a structured and constructive manner and transformed into sustainable solutions. The different perspectives make it possible to bundle resources and competencies of various actors and thus increase the problem-solving capacity and efficiency.