On Saturday, June 11 2016, the European Green Party together with our German Member Party, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, held a conference devoted to policies that Greens have undertaken on a local level around Europe. This time around, the Local Councillors Meeting was held in Munich, Germany.
The core theme of the conference was the refugee challenge and how local government and communities can work together to tackle the challenges and exploit the opportunities that come with it. During the conference we had Green local councillors converge from across Europe and provided them with a platform to discuss, share ideas and inspire one another.
We, Greens, view our cities as valuable components in supporting people who seek refuge on our continent. They are, in effect, the first line of contact and require ample and creative strategies to provide efficient provisions, such as access to public services and healthcare. However, it goes far beyond the material support which they can provide to refugees.
It also means social inclusion. An environment that fosters a sense of understanding and solidarity allows people to enter a new society in the least disruptive way possible. If refugees arrive in a constructive context of integration, one where they can develop their skills and become a valued member of society it will embolden their chances for a prosperous future.
In order to cover the various different aspects of this complex challenge, we decided to organise several different plenary sessions. Each of these was dedicated to a vastly different theme, in doing so we tried to cover as much ground as possible. This includes topics such as: social inclusion, access to public services, the role of civil society as a facilitator and raising awareness in local communities to foster solidarity and understanding. You can find the full programme of our event here.
Many citizens of European countries have already shown their strong dedication and sense of solidarity to refugees by assisting them in any way possible. However, we feel that if we share experience, bring people together and let ideas converge, more can be achieved. The key for that is by providing more support to local authorities in their efforts in supporting refugees.
Crises like these can only be effectively approached by decisively and continuously supporting the refugee arrivals while protecting their human rights, thus insisting on a humanitarian approach based on common European values and a sense of solidarity to this challenge rather than a xenophobic one.
Photos from the event can be found here.