Building bridges towards social cohesion
02/11/2019 - Impact Hub

How can we strengthen social cohesion in fragmented environments?

Public policies that have an impact on the welfare and quality of life of individuals are essential. Initiatives launched by organizations aimed at creating the necessary conditions and tools to offer opportunities to the most disadvantaged people are equally important. If the rest of the community is also involved and made aware of this issue, the combination is much more likely to be effective.

One example of this kind of initiative is the BEYOND divides program spearheaded by Impact Hub and supported by the Robert Bosch Foundation . This initiative contributes to the 2030 Agenda by strengthening social cohesion in fragmented environments and building bridges between diverse communities through shared projects.  

BEYOND divides and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) share the same core idea: to address global issues locally and to work in partnership to create shared value. The program tackles inequality, access to culture and environmental footprints in fragmented local communities by working with those people who are affected to create common solutions. 

The alliance between Robert Bosch Stiftung and Impact Hub centres on SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals, SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities, and SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, and aims to narrow social divides and reduce the stereotypes created within cities.

4 cities, 4 challenges 

Impact Hubs in Istanbul, Bucharest, Ruhr and Madrid are taking part in BEYOND divides and have put forward issues that are local to them so as to generate working projects that always share the objective of creating diverse communities.

Impact Hub Istanbul has made strides to welcome the residents of Kuştepe, one of the most vulnerable districts on the outskirts of the city, increasing their sense of worth. This is an extremely poor neighbourhood with very low income levels, high crime rates and very low numbers of children in school. “We are trying to focus on the symptoms of the problem to reduce the discrimination we can see”, comments Burak Ural, Project Specialist,  from Impact Hub Istanbul. 

Impact Hub Rhur, in the town of Essen (Germany), is working in a highly populated and hugely diverse area. The key to improving the experience individuals have of living together in this community is to ensure that the different groups understand each other, as up until now there has been a lot of prejudice. 

As an action group, we have shared our points of view and experiences to encourage social cohesion. We’ve sharpened our vision of the change we want to make and, little by little, we’ve clarified the main challenges within the broad issue of social segregation” notes Hanna Hemken-to-krax of Impact Hub Rhur.

 

In Romania, Impact Hub Bucharest has tackled the fragmentation of rural and city environments. Lucía Radu, initiative coordinator, explains: “Even though we live in the same country, we are completely out of touch with life in rural areas —we all live in our own bubble of family and friends”. The aim here is to reinforce connections and relationships between the rural and city spheres by encouraging sustainable farming and economic growth and supporting entrepreneurial projects in rural areas.

In Madrid, the initiative has focused on fragmentation in the urban area; the north and the south of the city. Particular emphasis has been given to highlighting and integrating groups of young refugees. Cecilia Serravalle of Impact Hub Madrid has formed a successful partnership with Conviviendo en el Municipio de CEAR Madrid (the Spanish Commission for Refugees). A group of young people are co-creating ideas for tackling inequality and pushing social integration forward. “Young people are the greatest change makers in our communities, and we need to get them together to break down prejudice and stereotypes,” states Cecilia.

As part of this program, the BEYOND divides community has also taken part in the 3rd Global Goals Jam in Madrid, which took place on 20 and 21 September. Young people looked at “How to encourage integration when welcoming refugees in the district of Leganés through culture and art” as part of SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities) on the 2030 Agenda.

A step-by-step search for solutions

The BEYOND divides communities involved have undergone a discovery stage that has enabled members to create a safe space and a shared vision of which challenges to address locally. In the current ideas generation stage, members are drafting ideas and solutions and ordering and prioritising them. In the final stage, the ideas are tested and piloted in each specific environment. 

BEYOND divides ends in 2020 and all the Impact Hubs involved will be considering the main results and impacts expected to come out of this project in each city. Although the 4 cities face very different issues, all BEYOND divides teams have the same target: to work towards more unified communities and to create lasting relationships by sowing the seeds for sustainable projects.

Even though BEYOND divides will come to an end, the seeds will keep growing. A record will be made of the learning and achievements resulting from the initiative so that other fragmented communities can copy them and continue contributing to the Sustainable Development 2030 Agenda.

BEYOND divides action groups in Impact Hub Istanbul, Madrid and Ruhr are contributing to the following SDGS: