The advisory council on diversity and integration: ‘Saluti’

To help them adapt to the changing needs of the population of the city, the municipality of Utrecht installed an (voluntary) advisory council on diversity and integration, to ensure that municipal policies have no adverse consequences for the different ethnic groups in the city.

Diversity mainstreaming as a structural element in municipal policy development is very much improved by the influence of this advisory council; the council has been very successful in influencing local policy development.

This if due to the quality of their advice work – but also to the way the council is able to involve a combination of citizens: very professional Utrecht citizens (e.g. university professionals; directors of local public and private bodies; psychiatrists; people with a lot of governing experience) as well as citizens with practical experiences (e.g. social workers, teachers, nurses, voluntary workers) and citizens who are personally involved in a subject (parents, young people, third-country national women).

Working as a networking organisation makes it possible to involve different persons with every new subject that the council advises on. The council itself is exemplary in its diversity: it consists of people of different ethnic background (Moroccan, Turkish, Surinam, Antillean, Syrian, Spanish, Dutch), male/female, young/old (24 /76). This inspires others (young/old, of different ethnic background) to become involved as well.

The process of preparing their recommendations to the city council, by holding expertmeetings, by visiting organisations and professionals, by speaking with people directly involved and by recruiting them to participate in the committees of the council, is in itself a major force in enhancing the participation of Utrecht’ citizens. All work is done voluntarily!
Only two civil servants support this council and ensure entry to relevant and necessary municipal officials and information.

The municipality of Utrecht

The municipality of Utrecht sees integration as a dynamic, two-way process of mutual accommodation by all immigrants and citizens of Utrecht. Newcomers are able to follow courses and take part in activities to learn their way in Utrechts’ society.

Movers and shakers in Utrecht’ society are still mostly white, male, over 50 years of age. The municipality therefore places great value on the work of the advisory council and on the involvement of people of all ethnic backgrounds (migrants and third-country nationals) in the development of their policies, be it in the field of housing, health care, work, education, infrastructure, or recreation.

Read more about Saluti in a presentation.